Hurdles to Education in Mareb and Jawf [Archives:2004/769/Culture]

September 2 2004

Hassan Al-Zaidi
Mareb and Jawf provinces are remote areas. Primary and secondary education is at the lowest levels in the country due to several factors, aside from the general condition of education in Yemen. Some reasons relate to the special nature of the two govenorates, as well as the lack of higher education. There is also the problem of girls quitting primary and secondary schools.
Before proposing a plan, we should review the effects of the past, and diagnose the present situation, so that we realize fully the changes needed to ameliorate education in these two unfortunate provinces.

The past:
If we go back to detect the history of regular education in these areas, we will find that it began in the early 1980s, unlike other districts of Yemen which received educational services as early as the 1970s. This means that the adults of the 1980s in these regions, were not qualified, a fact which impacts on the current situation.
Nowadays, the environment is not conducive to high quality education. Therefore, we find that families who want to educate their offspring usually move to the capital city to ensure receiving a better educational service.
Besides, the primary and secondary school educational output of these regions does not live up to the set standard, and this hinders high school graduates from joining universities. There are also social factors that add insult to injury.

Girl education in Mareb:
Girls in Mareb can be said to be deprived of education. They weren't formerly provided access to education until the 1990s, though there may be exceptions. Moreover, girls often join schools later during childhood because of the distance of schools.
They often do not continue their secondary school education because of marriage and other reasons.
Despite the effects of the past, the current reality of education in these regions, at the threshold of the third millenium, can be described as a disaster. The government represented by the Ministry of Education does not carry out plans to try to rectify the unfavourable legacy of the past. Actually, the existing plans of the ministry approach education in the two provinces precariously. Current educational policy does little to avert inevitable disaster, starting with the unjust distribution of teachers and books and ending with deprivation, and planned disregard.
The present educational conditions can by no means create a stable and illuminated society, able to catch up with the continual development of other regions. Tribesmen still put a high price on force as a concept inherited from their fathers, and this brings about yet other stumbling block in the way of development in this area, which is rich with a civilized heritage and natural wealth.
We should feel that what is being done now does not provide the means to sufficiently qualify locals to take up the responsibilities of advancing their area.
Although, the people partly contribute towards the problem, since they can aid or hinder projects, this does not exempt the government from its duty of better equipping them to do so. It is clear that its policies neither promote improving the level of education, nor accommodate measurements that facilitate people from Mareb and Jawf joining higher education.

The following are some reasons for lower levels of education in the Mareb and Jawf regions:
– A lack of educational staff needed for primary schools.
– No colleges in the provinces, a fact which prevents many high school graduates from joining universities since they can not afford to study in main cities.
– A lack of vocational training institutes.
– No scholarships for graduates from these two provinces.
– The inefficiency of educational administration in the governorates.
– Appointing teachers in primary school education with only high school certificates, and in recent years, the ministry did not pay attention to training them.
– Constructing schools not according to a well-studied plan for society, but according to influence of sheikhs, resulting in a waste of time and effort.
– No administration to study the condition of female education, nor investigate the reasons for their quitting school, as well as solutions to this problem.
– Lax controls, and on many occasions, deliberate facilitation of cheating at exams, and registering students from other governorates in local schools so that they can get certificates and possibly scholarships at the expense of local students.

Suggested solutions:
– Organizing training courses for teachers on methods of teaching at various educational stages.
– Establishing a community college.
– Establishing agriculture and mineral colleges.
– Establishing well-equipped schools in the centers of districts for boys and girls separately.
– Establishing a newspaper concerned with education and awareness programs so that negative phenomena in local communities is spotted and gets addressed.
– Training courses for administrative leaders.
– Establishing specialized technical institutes.
– Allotting a certain number of scholarships for students from Mareb and Jawf in different specializations, and removing obstacles that might obstruct them from joining universities.
– Providing vehicles for transporting young students to and from school.
– Providing computer and languages services at schools in district centers for the summer vacation.
– Establishing a department responsible for encouraging girls to continue their education.