Level of Education in Yemen from students’ perspective [Archives:2004/758/Education]

July 26 2004

By Nazeeh Abdullah
Yemen Times – Aden

Today, education in Yemen has reached a state of confusion and permanent chaos through the random changing of the syllabus and the unsuitable content of school books.
Teachers are teaching subjects unrelated to their specializations, to the extent that you find all specializations, perhaps excluding medicine, covered in schools.
Unfortunately these are the conditions of one of the largest sectors in our country, the educational sector, to which millions of rials every year are allocated through the national budget as confirmed by Mr. Abdu Rabo Mansoor Hadi, Vice President of the Republic, when he said that the budget for education is higher than that for the army forces in order to expand the educational facilities. “Every week there is a classroom being built somewhere in Yemen.” he said. Yet, in spite of the attention and the budget the level of education is getting worse. The state must work on educational strategies that aim at developing the educational sector starting from primary education and ending with the high schools. Well-studied syllabuses must be set out so as to support the desired understanding among students and increase their knowledge and learning

Whose fault is it?
Secondary school girls in one of the high schools explained that more often than not it is not only the fault of the teachers or of the text books. In fact the level of students is very poor. In many cases the students themselves do not want to learn and they do not exert enough effort to do well. That is why, he explained, there are students who are not regular in their attendance, yet they get high marks.
An alternative opinion is that it is a complex issue and many factors contribute to the success of education or the lack of it. In many cases it is family circumstances such as economic instability and carelessness of parents regarding the follow-up of their children's school performance.
Teachers do not fulfill their duties honestly, as some students in the secondary level commented. As the teacher is not specialized in the subject, so he teaches it very superficially and completes the syllabus without the core knowledge on the subject being transmitted to the students.

Favoring teachers' children:
One student pointed out that if there is a true will to reform education this should start from the basic education, i.e. the very first grade through the choice of a qualified teacher in order to create a good environment where healthy competition takes place. Student's spirits are dampened every year because it is always the teachers' children who come out first in class. This leads to frustration among the other deserving students as they feel that, no matter how hard they work, there will be no recognition of their merit; so they lose interest in studying right form the early years of schooling. It also leads to the graduation of a generation that is not really qualified. In the past, one high school girl commented, education was much better and students did struggle hard to learn and they were better educated.

Lost image of the teacher:
Although apparently teachers have a number of benefits and are appreciated by the Ministry of Education and receive bonuses every now and then, they have lost their image completely in front of the students who do not pay respect to their teachers and do not hold them in high esteem. Students disturb class sessions and reply curtly and rudely to teachers, they do not appreciate teachers' efforts and instructions. In spite of having an educational system as well as schools and teachers, yet if students do not respect their teachers, it is unlikely that the level of academic success will be high.

Satellite generation:
One promising student pointed out to a new dimension of the issue. She brought up the topic of satellite channels and the deterioration of the students' concentration and learning ability as a consequence of continually watching of TV. Students prefer to sit for hours in front of the TV screen and watch any nonsense that is presented, rather than studying or participating in social activities. For example, she explained, “The social studies teacher gave us a task to review a number of questions and some of them were very simple, such as 'when the September and October revolutions took place' and 'when was Yemeni unification and what was the significance of those events.' However, most of the students did not know how to answer these questions.

These were some facts and opinions gathered from girls in secondary schools about the status of education in Yemen. What will be the percentage of pass in this year's secondary exams is yet to be known! Students nowadays are working through their exams and we hope that they do well, honestly and in reality.