Education in the Rural Areas: Reality and Ambitions [Archives:2002/04/Culture]

January 21 2002


Abdu Talib Al-Qhdhi
[email protected]
Remember the revolution? Remember the promises made by those who proclaimed the revolution a savoir to the common people; promise to terminate illiteracy, poverty, and illness? Yet the revolution is thirty-nine years old and more than 70% of our society are still plagued with illiteracy making advancements in other areas, such as medicine and quality of life, appear to move at a snails pace. Our leadership needs to wake up and smell the coffee! We are living in a new epoch known as the information age. No reasonable person can fancy that there is still one unlearned person in Yemen today, thirty-nine years after these promises were made and so many believed and gave their lives and property for such a noble cause.
Illiteracy leaves many citizens caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. These unfortunate boys and girls and young men and women are severely suffering from lack of adequate educational attention by our government. As a matter of fact, the educational field, as a whole in our country is under a yoke of bitter reality that is a wonder in itself. Flaws in a hotch-potch framework dominate all along the educational hierarchy. Most teachers and up as square pegs forced into round holes. To add salt to the wound, many teachers are unqualified, unmotivated, with weak personalities and cultural experiences. Some are just plain ill mannered.
Particularly in the rural areas, education is not only in a mess, but the situation is getting worse. This flabbergasting truth is persistent amongst the majority of the rural provinces. A lack of suitable school buildings forces young students to walk long distances to and from school, often in scorching heat or torrential rains, up and down mountainsides. After an arduous journey to school, the poor student is often subject to sub-standard teachers employing antiquated teaching methods and materials. It is not only this, but after their daily classes come to an end, students spend the second half of the day on farms or taking care of animals until the evening. They revise and do their homework in lantern light in the evening or listen to tales narrated by their grandmothers. They are deprived of watching childrens TV programs owing to the fact that no electricity facilities are there. The majority of these young adults are dropping out their education due to these stifling situations and have started working to help their families put food on the table. Taking the girls situation into account, they willy nilly leave school at an early time to participate in the menial tasks of a village woman: gracing animals, collecting firewood on the rocky plains, fetching water on foot from wells that are miles away from their houses. A good number of the countryside students travel to the city in order to continue their studies. Many students have lessons in the shade of trees or in zink tents like in al-Odin, Osab and Rima. School building are sometimes used as a place of repose, a type of hostel, for teachers who come from other areas.
By and large, schools in the rural areas are in dire need to veritable classrooms and the basic amenities for educational process such as chairs, boards, chalks and so on. Let alone facilities that have been a result of the advanced technologies. It is worth mentioning that the lack of such essential materials for schooling the psychological condition of the students get eventually deteriorating and many students today find it difficult to go to school. Thus, they have started to bite the bullet as they are stuck in the same mud year by year.
In such stifling conditions, what generation do we expect to be natured from this chaos? One wonders why the rural areas are not treated right by the government? For how long will the government turn its back on the suffering of rural areas which have been patiently waiting for the light of the day?! Why all the eyes always on the cities? Isnt it time to show a little care towards the rural areas as the urbans have become teeming with people which create endless environmental problems?
It was our pleasure to hear about Childrens Parliament, aiming at creating awareness amongst children and to strengthen childrens value system to cope with the new technology and development in future as well as to make them conscious about their rights. But in reality nothing has seen the light of day! It is just illustration in point of the misery and the international opinion and to satisfy some of the international organizations as well. Isnt it horrible hanky-panky?!
Back to square one to openly say that education in the rural areas is verily outrageous and should be remedied before the coming generation is in the hot water. Our sympathetic government should lend a helping hand and take a long cool look at this problem which richly deserve heads to be made together in finding urgent help. Specialists, decision makers, responsible, well-to-do personalities all have to swallow their pride and join efforts to rescue this deteriorating situation of the pedagogical process across the country.