Do We Blame the Student? [Archives:1998/20/Reportage]

May 18 1998

There are many problems that a Yemeni student faces in his school life. An ordinary Yemeni student has to deal with three somehow different worlds – if they may be called worlds. The first is his home.
The home is the first place a person sees when he is brought into this world, also the place where he receives his first and simple guidance in life. So the home is the most important part in a human being’s life. If the home environment is good, a human being is then well brought up.
So what is the situation in a typical Yemeni home?
In the afternoon, a student returns from school, when the family gathers around lunch. Many parents do not even ask their son or daughter how school was. When lunch is over, everybody goes about their daily life.
The father goes out to buy Qat and finds a place where he is going to spend his afternoon chewing Qat. The mother on the other hand waits for her husband until he returns from the qat market, expecting her share of this green plant. Then she goes to a wedding, a party, or just goes to a friend’s house – their rule is never stay at home. So it all leads to a home without the parents.
This is a great opportunity for the small children to go out and play in the street – the only place to play as there are no parks. Others will stay and watch TV, homework notwithstanding. There is no one to guide them and make them study.
Is such a home atmosphere conducive to study?
The neighborhood is the second place in a student’s life. Sorry! That should read the ‘street is the second place in a student’s life.’ The street is a dangerous place for children but it is the only place to play. Most of the streets are not only dangerous, but also unhygienic because of the overflowing sewerage system or the open sewers that run on the surface of the street.
The third important thing in a student’s life is the school, the place for learning, gaining knowledge and education. But what does a student gain from school? All the lessons are read from books, and at the front of the classroom stands a teacher who talks and explains the subject with the aid of chalk and an old and battered blackboard (greyboard in the case of Yemeni classrooms).The student sits there on a broken wooden desk – if there are any desks that is – for the whole lesson, for six or seven lessons a day. All he gains at the end is an aching backside. The student only gains about 50% of the lesson because no teaching aids are usually used. Even scientific and practical lessons are read from books. Concluding, I leave you this question to answer, do we blame the students failing?
By Wagdy Mohammed Al-Kadasi,
Hael Saeed School, Sanaa