Exams the last scene in the drama called ‘education’ [Archives:2004/760/Education]

August 2 2004

By Anwar Al-Shazeli
For the Yemen Times

Shakespeare once said “Give me a theatre, I give you educated people”. By extrapolation we can say “Give me education, I give you an illiterate generation and a backward nation!”
The educational system in Yemen has reached a dead-end and senile stage, and, therefore, it is necessary to reconsider reviving and rejuvenating the educational system in order to benefit from it. The educational system in Yemen has deteriorated to an alarming level so as to necessitate a complete overhaul despite the large chunk from the general fiscal budget of the state every year, that is spent on education.
All countries of the world depend on the education to achieve sustainable development. But ironically the educational system in Yemen can at best be characterised as a bad play. Its scenes are loose and are marked by negligence throughout the year. The play ends with exams which witness rampant malpractices that reaches the level of total chaos.
What is most ridiculous about the exam phase is the exaggerated statements issued by our leaders who brag about how the final exams were conducted smoothly and without any cheating, as if they were living in another world. But the fact remains that final exams are conducted amid widespread cheating in connivance with the parents of the students, the education officials and the invigilators, observers and heads of exams commissions. The victim is the edifice of education and students who are supposedly the architects of tomorrow.
So, how long shall we keep our heads covered in the sand while attempting to deny the facts that usually takes place during the final exams and about the educational scenario as a whole? Those who claim otherwise, don't they know that we have children who go to exams and report to us what they usually witness during final exams. Do the education officials realize that the questions of the final exams are usually distributed outside exams centers after only few minutes from the beginning exams, and are dispatched back to students with answers?
I want our education officials who argue that final exams are properly conducted to clarify why a large number of high school students end up passing final exams whilst they do not know even the names of the subjects in the curriculum. Most of them go to take their final exams, during examination days, not knowing the subject that they are going to take the examination, and yet they are miraculously able to score higher grades than students who had spent the whole school year studying very hard.
Believe me when I say that we would not be able to catch up with other countries that have implemented solid educational systems to ensure the graduation of deserving meritorious students. Thus, what is the wisdom of spending huge financial resources on an educational system especially in preparation of the final exams, that ultimately produces incapable and ignorant graduates? Some may argue that the degree of success varies from one student to another and that excellent and hard working students usually score higher scores and grade point averages although such students are a minority. What is the benefit of graduating large numbers of students who would continue to follow the same tactics to obtain university degrees as doctors or engineers, but who would not be able to improve or contribute to the society? On the contrary, they would constitute a menace to society and would reduce the chances and opportunities for the hard working students to contribute productively and effectively to society. We actually have to be aware of the serious consequences of our consistently passive reaction to improving the education system. All I can say is that our country deserves better and more careful attention to education in order to sustain and to develop our identity.