English not taught well in Amran [Archives:2006/940/Reportage]

April 24 2006
Photo from archived article: photos/940/report1_1
Photo from archived article: photos/940/report1_1
By: Saddam Al-Ashmori
[email protected]

“If our teachers fail to teach Arabic, how will they be able to teach English?” student Ahmed Al-Ghool wondered as he explained the English teaching situation in Amran governorate. “Concerned authorities have given us schools but not specialized teachers qualified enough to teach generations of students,” he continued.

Unqualified teachers

An insufficient number of English teachers is the main reason behind the deterioration of teaching English in Amran governorate, according to Amran governor Taha Hajer, noting that there are 200,000 students in the governorate and only 100 English teachers.

“But nowadays, we have made remarkable progress in comparison to previous years. There used to be 67 university graduates in various specializations and now there are 2,500 university graduates. We have tried our best to cover the lack of English teachers,” he explained.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Najjar, Faculty of Education dean in Amran, clarified that the deteriorated English teaching level results from the weak educational level in secondary schools, where students lack basic skills upon their graduation.

“When a student joins university, he is not persistent in attending lectures and pays no attention to improving his educational level. Therefore, he barely passes some university syllabus subjects and must sit an exam again as he fails in other subjects,” Al-Najjar noted.

In fact, there are factors responsible for this deteriorated situation at the Faculty of Education. “There is an insufficient number of lecturers, nor is there a language lab or other means. The number of students joining the faculty is too large for it to contain them. Books are unavailable, as the curriculum only is available in handouts, which are below required standards. Above all, Yemeni students are not interested in reading, which is the key to knowledge,” Al-Najjar stated.

Vice Dean Dr. Mohammed Al-Naqeeb shares the same view, agreeing that the reason for the low English teaching level is the weak level of secondary school graduates. “The faculty receives students who are not good at English, even though the number of those joining the English Department is large. Approximately 320 students are admitted, which makes it difficult to reach the required educational level.

“Also, many do not adhere to attending lectures due to being farmers, soldiers or employees in other sectors. They cannot harmonize between their work and study and so their educational level is low upon their graduation,” he added.

Al-Naqeeb confessed, “We do not exclude ourselves in this matter, as we contribute to graduating weak-educated students. The Ministry of Education, universities, families and the media all are responsible for this problem.”

However, he optimistically concluded, “Opening Amran University would be a radical solution, as it would reduce pressure exerted on the faculty. Realizing the importance of specialized English teachers, we recently opened two English departments – one in the Faculty of Education and the other in the Faculty of Languages.”

Absence of responsibility and awareness

Amran governorate's deteriorated English teaching situation not only is due to unqualified teachers, as officials and locals also are responsible for it. Students themselves are unaware of the English language's importance in the absence of concerned authorities' role to spread awareness among them. Some governorate schools even are deprived of English teachers, while English textbooks reach schools in mid-academic year.

“English is the language of Jews, so there's no need for us to learn it,” Al-Ghool flatly stated.

Student Mohammed Al-Joubi pointed out that there are 150 students in the school and only three teachers for all subjects. “I realized the importance of the English language and joined a private language center. I feel I'm better than our English teacher, as I teach on his behalf. I always advise my colleagues and teachers to join language centers to improve their English.”

Al-Khair School headmaster Mohammed Al-Harrasy expressed his concern over the shocking circumstance of teaching English. “There are no qualified English teachers. Even English textbooks reach schools in mid-academic year. Some schools also are deprived of specialized English teachers. Why wouldn't the English language replace the official Arabic language? In fact, many people are not in a position to learn English.”

Noting that English teaching begins in seventh grade, English teacher Ameer Al-Madari said teachers are unqualified and textbooks reach schools in mid-academic year. For him, these three factors cause English language to be taught at low levels.

Adel Al-Sheraei, head of a governorate educational center, noted that tribal traditions prevail among Amran citizens. The majority notably are unaware of the importance of English, caring only about receiving certificates, he added.

For his part, Educational Office head Ahmed Al-Sabari attributes the problem to insufficient numbers of English teachers. “Over the past years, English teachers have not been sufficient in schools, resulting in feebleness regarding English. When there were vacant English language posts, those in charge had to employ other teachers, as there were no English graduates.”

Al-Sabari pointed out that the Educational Office has organized many training courses to qualify teachers, adding that there will be English teacher training courses this year.

Moreover, Amran's governor Hajer stressed that such training courses should continue for 10 years. “There are 10,000 teachers in Amran – 2,000 are university graduates and 8,000 graduated from high school and institutions. Their experience is little, so we need 10 years to qualify them well.”