Illiteracy… A Time Bomb [Archives:2001/37/Culture]

September 10 2001

Yaser M. Ahmed
Yemen Times
The whole world, local and international organizations, and governmental and non-governmental institutions celebrated the international day of illiteracy eradication on September 8th. The idea of the International Day came after a meeting of the Education Ministers in 1965 and was adopted by the UNESCO in 1966. Thus, every year, on September 8th, the world community honors the exerted efforts done by the hard-working individuals in the field of education and alleviation of illiteracy. The advanced countries already resolved this issue of systematic essential principles of education, illiteracy eradication, and women’s enrollment in schools. However, the third world countries are still struggling to tackle the problems in basic education for all, while in the advanced countries the illiterate are those who do not know how to use a computer. Undoubtedly, a comparative study between advanced and developing countries is somewhat far-reaching. Development and progress in the developing countries depends on taking great interest in education and taking care of old people. In Yemen, for example, the problem of illiteracy is only the main concern of “educationists” who have tried to overcome the challenges faced by the specialists and those who work on the educational and pedagogical fields. Yemen decided to deal with this issue via two approaches:
Preparation of five studies exposing international efforts and experiences in the educational field, and assessing the efforts to be made nationally.
Design of a systematic study to eradicate illiteracy in the Republic of Yemen.
In Yemen, illiteracy eradication institutions were established in 1990 as a unified body covering the whole country. In the northern cities of the Republic of Yemen, the first experimental campaign was created in 1971 and 1972 to eradicate illiteracy in Yemen in cooperation with the Arabic Body within five cities, Sana’a, Taiz, Al-Hodeidah, Ibb, and Rada’a.
In 1974, the General Education Law was issued. Chapter 7 of this law was specifically spoke about illiteracy eradication. In 1987, a republican decree was issued to launch a comprehensive national campaign to eradicate illiteracy particularly among the adults. It was estimated at that time that the number of illiterates reached 2.826.405, and among them 1.710.105 women.
In the northern and eastern regions (previously South Yemen), the number of illiterates reached in 1967 almost 90 percent of the population. In 1973, the Population Census indicated that their number equalled 736.224. This represents 46.2 percent of the population overall. Consequently, a law was issued in 1973 to fight against illiteracy and improve adult education starting from 1975. But, in this phase, incompetence led to difficulty to continue their duties in getting rid of illiteracy.
Illiteracy Eradication and Adult Education after the Unification of Yemen
A Republican decree (Decree No. 28) was issued in 1992 to set up, as part of the Ministry of Education, a illiteracy eradication body and adult education section to make clear that both are vital and distinguished sectors in the Republic of Yemen. Recent studies revealed that the number of illiterate people rose to 5.381.150. This increase can be attributed to a number of reasons:
The natural increase of the population as well as the population growth in Yemen have reached 3.7 percent. The main reason behind illiteracy is the non-attendance of classes in remote areas.
It is our duty, rather than the responsibility of a given party, to eradicate illiteracy in our homeland which has been facing a spreading of illiteracy not only among the adults but also the children.