Educational reform [Archives:2004/773/Culture]

September 16 2004

Ismail Al-Ghabiri
The miserable state of education in Yemen calls for emergency measures. The following are suggestions to many crucial problems that the officials of education should address if they are intent on educational reform.
Unless there is a will on the part of those responsible for education, the situation will go from bad to worse. We expect to see real-life results and not just theories put forward by officials after leaving convention halls. Education is the responsibility of official, the student and his family. The following points are what we propose:

Reform of curricula
Syllabi and books, instead of being a source of information, often create difficulties for students and teachers alike.
When designing syllabi the committees responsible ought to take into account the circumstances of students living in primitive areas. We suggest that the Ministry of Education look in to the matter, by setting up committees in all governorates in order to design sophisticated appropriate syllabi. Aid from educational consultants from Arab and foreign countries has to be considered.

Provision of teachers
Most schools in rural areas suffer from a lack of teachers, and pupils in lower grades miss out on some subjects due to this problem. For example, during the school year, some students neither study mathematics nor physics and are expected to sit exams in these subjects at the end of the year. This problem gives rise to widespread cheating. We do not encourage the cheating phenomenon but understand that students resort to it as a compensation for the lack of teachers and books.

Qualifying teachers
Training courses should be held for the purpose of training inexperienced teachers. The story of a teacher who taught students that the sun is a planet and not a star is clear-cut evidence of this necessity. A question appeared in an exam in one of the Yemeni schools asking “Is the sun a planet or star?” One of the students answered that it is a star, since his father had told him so. The teacher however, believing the sun to be a planet, marked the answer wrong. Such examples can be found in numerous schools.

If the administration is wise, everything will go well but the fact remains that many highly qualified teachers hold administrative positions, and there are a great number who are not capable of handling both positions at once

Family and Society
Observing the student, motivating him and modifying his behavior starts within his own family. A parents council has also its role in contributing to the quality of education by following up the concerned authorities and bringing effective input.

In rural areas, there are no buildings for students to study, who sit under trees and in some sunny spots. Is it possible for them to learn in these circumstances? Visual and audio aids are rarely seen in most primary and secondary schools.