Dr. Al-Rasheed to YT: “We believe that anything that will help the educational development in Yemen should be our priority.” [Archives:2001/18/Interview]

April 30 2001

The Saudi Minister of Education, Dr. Mohamed Ahmed Al-Rasheed came on a visit to Yemen last week and met with his Yemeni counterpart, Dr. Fadhl Abu Ghanem. During his visit he held talks with President Saleh along with several prominent officials in the field of education. Yemen Times Aden Bureau Chief Ridwhan Al-Saqqaf and Abdulwahid Ahmed Saleh of Al-Jumhuriya had the privilege to meet Dr. Al-Rasheed during his visit to Aden and filed the following interview.
Q: Could your brief us on the results of your current visit to Yemen?
A: The relationship between the two countries in the field of education is strong and is full of rich possibilities. As you may know, there are more than 150,000 Yemeni students studying in Saudi Arabia. My discussion with Yemeni Minister of Education Dr. Fadhl Abu Ghanem focused on several issues including sending some of our Saudi teachers to teach in Yemen.
Another agreement related to give opportunities to Yemeni students to study in the teacher training colleges of the Saudi Ministry of Education leading to Bachelor degrees to become efficient teachers in their country.
We have also agreed on reviewing the set curricula to make the content relevant to the socio-academic need of our countries.
There was a consensus on restructuring our books with topics to include values based on the Arab nationalism and stress on the importance of the brotherly relationship we enjoy with Yemen. We also agreed on having frequent visits of students, managers, and instructors to discuss possible future cooperation in the field of education.
We are looking forward to receiving Yemen Minister of Education in Saudi Arabia as we believe his visit will further enhance our relationship and cooperation and create meaningful partnership between our two countries in education.
Q: Do you believe that the strong influence of Saudi Arabia in the region will encourage other Gulf States to follow suit and revitalize their cooperation with Yemen in the field of education?
A: There is a special organization to coordinate educational activities for the Gulf Cooperation Council. I want to assure you that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, will do its best to consolidate the steps taken so far to cement the commitment of both leaderships towards cooperation. We hope that this will encourage other states to do the same. We have started our cooperative endeavor which others may emulate.
I had the honor to meet H.E. President Ali Abdullah Saleh. He stressed the importance of education to promote national and Arab values that would serve in the long-run to promote better understanding between the coming generations among the Arab countries. Hence, this will not only serve to strengthen Yemeni-Saudi relations, it will serve to promote Yemeni-Arab relations as well.
Q: You have mentioned that you aim at starting some sort of partnership in education. Could you explain this further?
A: We are seeking a common ground in education to remove all major differences in the issues related to the academic curricula. We have agreed to start partnerships in the form of coordinating the different educational activities similar to what international and Arab educational organizations do.
We have also agreed to identify organize seminars and conferences that would help promote and enhance educational training. This extends to any conference or seminar we hold in Saudi Arabia. We will invite our fellow Yemeni colleagues to these forums. Similarly when Yemen holds conferences or seminars they will invite us. This can be considered a beginning, and efforts to increase cooperation and partnerships will continue after.
Q: You may have noticed Yemen’s efforts in the field of vocational and technical training. How can the KSA support Yemen in this respect?
A: Through the cooperation between the Saudi and Yemeni ministries of higher education, technical training, and education, we can support Yemen in its efforts in many ways. President Saleh seemed to give much emphasis to this issue. We also are eager to give this issue the importance it deserves. Only, theoretical studies are not enough. I am confident that the ministers of vocational training in the two countries will rise to the occasion and extend their cooperation further in this regard.
Q: There are several projects that were financed by the KSA. Many of them were completed while others were not. An example is one of the schools in Taiz City. Is there any hope of having these suspended projects completed? And what are the new projects the KSA is going to carry out?
A: As you know, the cooperation between the two countries started a long time ago. We used to send Arab teachers to Yemen to help it recover from the shortage in this regard. However, today, we have many Saudi teachers instead of Arab teachers to be sent to Yemen to help the educational process in the country.
As for the projects you mentioned, I believe the Saudi Development Fund is the authority concerned. I remember that a delegation visited Yemen recently and assessed the situation. It concluded that there indeed is great need for educational and health projects in the country. Such projects were administered by the past by the ministries concerned, but today all projects are administered by the Saudi Development Fund.
I would like to point out that we have been given clear orders to cooperate in all possible ways with the Republic of Yemen. Hence, we believe that anything that will help the educational development in Yemen should be our priority.
Q: During your visit to Aden University, you openly stated that you are keen to promote the exchange of academic expertise between the two countries. Could we expect solid steps to be taken in this direction soon?
A: During my visit to Aden University I met with its rector, Mr. Saleh Ali Basurrah. We explained to him that we need the list of instructors who are currently unemployed to look after their needs and treat them in the same way their brothers are treated in the kingdom.
Q: How do you evaluate the level of education in Yemen?
A: Openly speaking, neither of the two countries satisfied with the level of education. Hence, it is important that we exert more efforts to enhance the level of education. As the Ministry of Education we have our own agency that is responsible for drafting plans to improve education. I believe the same applies to our brothers in Yemen. I was glad to know that there are more than 3.65 million students in Yemen, which marks a significant increase over the years. However, with the increase in number, the increase in quality was also evident, particularly during the last 10 years.
Q: What are your impressions about your first visit to Aden? Don’t you feel it could be a potential tourist destination for Saudis in the future?
A: Indeed, this is my first ever visit to Aden. From what I have seen so far, I believe that Aden is qualified to becoming a major investment and tourism destination. There is also a great potential for fishing and many businesses in this beautiful coastal city. In brief, Aden seems to have all the factors of success as a tourist and investment destination.
Q: Can we consider your last sentence an open invitation for Saudi businessmen and citizens to invest and pay visits to Aden?
A: Already, I learned from the Aden Governor that a Saudi businessmen delegation visited Aden recently and expressed interest in investment in the city. I was delighted to know that one of the Saudi investors has already started the procedures to invest in Aden. I do recommend all businessmen to head for Aden and discover the potential in investment in all fields.