In Yemen, a degree is just a paper [Archives:2005/879/Reportage]

September 22 2005

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When mentioning education, you notice people striving day in and day out, continuously giving all they got only hoping to see prosperity in the end of the journey. Nights pass without sleep, and days without rest for the sake of a better tomorrow. Ten years ago, illiteracy was a crucial issue, which needed to be fought fiercely and immediately. Schools re-opened, the curriculum revised, a better teaching staff introduced, and after continuous non-stop effort, things have changed to the better. Knowledge has finally spread its seeds throughout the nation. People have understood the importance of education and the bright future it promises to bring along. People are really desperate and realize that without a university degree a successful future is virtually put on hold. With all these massive improvements happening. Ironically, there is a tragic side to the issue. Thousand of Yemeni's graduate yearly in different fields of education, undergoing a long stressed four to seven years of their lives striving and studying only to complete and notice that there is no room for them in society. Unemployment is still an ongoing dilemma, which seems more like a mysterious issue in this oil rich Middle Eastern country. World observers warn Yemen of a future financial crisis if political reforms and honest governance does not take place.

” What do they want? They said we needed a degree to have a decent job, O.K, we got the degree, now, where are the jobs we were promised”, said Sameera Al-Misbahi, a university graduate. “Is this what I get in return for my hard work, the nights I stayed away from my soft blanket, hoping for a better future. Everything went to waste”, she added.

Many enterprises are owned by a handful of businessmen who see qualifications as a minor issue in the employing process. Graduates these days go through job searching from corner to corner and street-to-street, governmental institutions to private institutions, as they suffer from unemployment. “Why did I go to school, why did I waste seven years of my life? For this, I should of thought twice”, said Mohamed Nagi, a graduate in the field of medicine. “This is certainly not what I was hoping for”.

In a survey conducted throughout the capital Sana'a, it showed that a nerve wrecking thirty five percent of university graduates are still apparently unemployed, while another twenty percent work in a field other than what they majored in. Awkwardly, even those who occupy jobs shockingly receive only $3 per day, which is not even enough for the basic necessities of life. “My neighbor is a laborer and honestly, he gets paid three times more than me. He can't even read and write for god's sake, he never went to school,” said Abdul Rahman Al -Haidari, a graduate in the field of engineering. He continued “In Yemen, a degree is just a normal piece of paper with ink scrambled all over it”.

If worrying about the future is a tragic issue for students, its unimaginable and really horrifying for what parents go threw. After the great unity, many poor families gave all they had to educate their children. Money, health, time were all given only hoping to see their children have a prosperous future in the long run. All sacrifices taken were unlimited and priceless to achieve victory in this valuable cause, furthermore secure a decent future for their children. Loans were taken from friends and relatives to help their children continue their educational trip realizing that one day the debts would be paid off through the success their children will have. “Seven years ago I was fiercely pushing my two sons to enroll in university and graduate”, said Amr Fadhel, a 54-year-old senior citizen. “After I saw that nothing was coming back in return, sorry to say, but it's the opposite way around now, I am pushing them away from entering in any university”.

Even in these heart-breaking situations that people are going through, universities are still noticing a growing number in student enrollees, while many students are refused acceptance and forced to go home empty handed. It is very painful to notice that people have woken up from their long years of deep sleep and are finally striving for education, while on the other hand, the government is putting numerous barriers in their way, stopping them from having a more prosperous future. If this dilemma is occurring in the current situation, I can't even imagine what it would be like ten years from now as the population is growing as fast as ever, while the younger generation already acknowledges the importance of education, and plan to do whatever it takes to achieve it. I hope the government can solve this crisis before people start loosing hope and turn to unlawful solutions to build a future of any kind.

It's really beautiful seeing that people are not giving up even in such situations, and are willingly trying to create chances by putting the future in their own hands. The least the government can do is offer these hardworking citizens decent jobs, furthermore a chance for prosperity after their long-sufferings and continuous hard work. We'll just have to wait and see what the future has in stake for us.