IBB University Makes Visible Strides [Archives:1998/51/Local News]
Although recently founded, the University of Ibb has become a respected center for higher education. Serious research is conducted in many fields by highly qualified academics – both Yemeni and foreign.
Ismail Al-Ghabiri of Yemen Times interviewed Dr. Nasser Abdullah Al-Awlaqi, President of the University of Ibb.
Q: When was the University of Ibb founded?
A: I was appointed a president of University of Ibb in a Republican Decree of September 10, 1996. The University of Ibb was established and founded by June 12th, 1996. Today because of this wise policy we have fifteen universities, seven of them are state-owned and the rest are private. The total number of university students in Yemen may slightly exceed 150,000 this year.
Q: How many faculties are there at the university?
A: We started working in 1996 with the faculties of Education (Ibb), Agriculture, Economics & Administrative Sciences, Arts & Sciences and Education (Nadirah Directorate). In 1998 we added the faculty of Engineering with three main departments: Architecture, Electricity and Electronics. Now, there is a plan to be approved for the establishment of a faculty of medicine by the academic year 1999-2000.
Q: How many students do you have?
A: There are about 8,000 to 9,000 students in the University of Ibb. Most new students apply for education, economics and administration sciences, arts and sciences.
This academic year (1998/99), 70% of the students were admitted into the Faculty of Agriculture, because of the free accommodation incentives and funds provided to people involved in such fields. Students of agriculture and food technology get practical training at the Hayel Saeed Anam Industrial Group, 40 km. away from the university. Furthermore, the university provides new graduates in agriculture with jobs in the private sector to link modern education to industry and trade.
Q: Do you face any problems, and how do you tackle them?
A: Pollution is really a main problem. The water and sewage-treatment plant, financed by the German government, needs some repair work. In addition to find a solution, the university conducted a workshop on environmental problems. Speaking of the environment, the Ministry of Education along with Ibb University board of trustees, established an intensive agricultural engineering section. Students are trained to deal with desertification, water resources management, etc.
Q: Are there any problems regarding admitting students coming from other parts of the country?
A: The idea of establishing regional universities is to give new students from these areas greater chances for enrollment and to avoid living and travel expenses in Sanaa or Aden. Hence most of our students are from Ibb, but by the next academic year, we will attract the sons and daughters of Yemeni emigrants, Arabs and foreigners without exclusions.
Q: What is the ratio of Yemeni to non-Yemeni teaching staff?
A: We have a problem regarding attracting Yemeni teaching staff to regional universities. Most Yemeni teachers prefer to be employed either in Sanaa University or Aden University. Hence, we are formulating a new program to attract Yemeni graduates to work in the University of Ibb. They’ll be offered scholarships to study overseas.
We have already sent 30 students to prepare for post-graduate studies in food technology and agriculture in Germany, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, India, etc. They’ll be working in Ibb University when they come back.
Now we have not less than 15 Iraqi professors and only one Sudanese. We approved 20% increase in salaries for all Yemeni staff who work in rural areas, as bonuses and incentives. This is important to solve the labor force shortages in the town of Ibb, and absorb labor force surplus from main cities.
Q: How do you evaluate education in Yemen?
A: Yemen faces a problem at all scholastic and undergraduate levels. We have 3,500,000 and 150,000 local students in scholastic and undergraduate levels respectively. Compared with the limited resources available to students, the standard showed a very big gap.
The five-Year-Plan budget and annual expenditures to education should increase to raise education standards. New, modern and developed syllabus accompanied with qualified instructors are essential.
If we compare universities in Yemen – a less developed country – to universities in industrial countries, we’ll find out that Yemeni officials have a lot of problems to overcome. The political leadership and the government must give more attention and finance to all Yemeni universities, private or state-run to compete with foreign ones abroad and improve higher education in Yemen.
Q: What is the main aim of the agricultural program?
A: The main aim of the university agricultural program is to supply our society with high quality agronomy. As well as extending and improving agricultural productivity, water resources and crop production.
Q: Do you get any assistance from officials?
A: Yes, President Ali Abdullah Saleh provided the university with another new large campus. I also like to thank Governor Abdul-Qader Hilal and my faculty staff members for their fruitful continuous cooperation.