Living in a time a normal soldier could humiliate any university instructor:Destroying Yemeni professors [Archives:2003/655/Viewpoint]

July 31 2003

Every time I go to the housing complex of the Sanaa University staffers and see the miserable conditions there I feel pity for the professors, who deserve much more than what they are getting.
A damaged sewage system, shortage in water, unpaved, muddy and slurry lanes, and of course, no maintenance whatsoever to the buildings resemble the true condition of the houses of our university professors, who are supposed to be the elite of the community. Occasionally, cars cannot move in or out in the complex because of accumulated rain water filling the streets and creating massive lakes preventing professors from driving to their homes. Isn't this quite humiliating?
Adding insult to injury, university professors are paid very low wages compared to their counterparts in the region and the world. As if that is not enough, they are the ones victimized by certain influential individuals. A good example is the confiscation of their land -as expressed in the last interview of President Saleh on al-Jazeera- by certain powerful figures. The government did little to have their land released despite clear verdicts from the Supreme Court.
Furthermore, in Yemen, many soldiers and officers are given more value than professors and scientists. I remember Prof. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf founder of Yemen Times once saying that Yemen may be the only place on the planet where a normal soldier could humiliate and drag a university professor to prison.
At the same time, we are still asking why Yemen is not developing, and why our rank in human development continued to deteriorate during the last years. It is quite obvious that the main reason is discouraging education and the educated sector of the community by treating them in such a manner, while spending most of the budget on military personnel and equipment.
If it is military might that we intend to build, then this will not be possible unless we enhance our educational level and encourage scientists to invent and be more productive. What is going on is certainly not encouraging for them.
Looking at the military superiority of the USA and other countries, one should realize that this might is not only due to the mere number of soldiers, but it is mainly due to the attention paid by the USA to scientists who produce highly advanced and sophisticated laser and satellite guided missiles and other communication equipment. Today's era depends more on technology and science rather than number of soldiers and out-dated scud missiles. We are yet to understand this fact.
We need to realize that even in military sector, which is only one of several important aspects of development, needs science and scientists. Those people are the core of any developed nation because they are the ones who bring the ideas and research solutions for all aspects of life in economy, politics, military, society, etc.
If we are ignoring their problems, and adding to their struggle and frustration, those brains will be forced to seek better opportunities abroad instead of suffering in their homeland. As a matter of fact, the brain drain had already started some time ago, and today, only a few hundred qualified university professors are still working in Yemen.
How can we build a modern country without having the brains and scientists to help? It will be useless to depend on unqualified individuals, who could result in messing the country up.
It only needs some vision and commitment by the country's leadership to care more for this important segment of the community, and unless some action is done in this respect, Yemen will continue to fall further down the rank of developing nations of the world. Then our out-of-date missiles and arms will certainly not be enough.