Main difficulty facing Yemeni students in Jordan:Financial problems only [Archives:2003/665/Culture]

September 4 2003

By Mahmoud Mohammed Qassim
Yemen Times Jordan/Iraq Correspondent

Mohammed Ateeq Ali, 31, is currently the Assistant cultural Attache at the Yemeni embassy in Amman, Jordan. Ever since he was appointed in this post in July 2000, he has been known for his being energetic and enthusiast for helping the Yemeni students studying or living in Jordan.
Due to the overwhelming demand of students studying in Jordan, Yemen Times decided to carry out a report about how the Yemeni embassy in Jordan has been helping our students cope with their life and find solutions to their possible problems.
Yemen Times Jordan/Iraq correspondent Mahmoud Mohammed Qassim had interviewed Mr. Mohammed Ateeq and filed this following report.
Q: First of all, as the assistant cultural attache, what are your main duties?
A: Our role in the embassy is quite important as it enables us to interact directly and openly with our students in Jordan. We are the ones who receive Yemeni students with scholarships from the government at the airport and prepare residence for them either with other students or in hotels until they can manage by themselves. We also pay them their salaries allotted by the Yemeni government. We also monitor their academic performance by reviewing their exam results and overall standards in Jordanian universities and colleges.
Furthermore, we contact our students by phone to ensure that things are OK, and work on solving any problems and removing any difficulties they may face in the best way we can.
On some occasions, we participate directly in activities of the universities and try to present Yemen in the best way possible by contributing to exhibitions and participating in other activities.
As a means of encouragement, we also award our distinctive students, who have demonstrated excellent performance in their academic standings. We also pay regular visits to university rectors and arrange meetings with students and staffers to discuss means and ways to help our students achieve greatly in their academic career.
Q: You mentioned the word 'difficulties'. Could you explain what they are and how you help in overcoming them?
A: Many of the students who face difficulties are those who come with no scholarship and attempt to study on their own expense. They sometimes face financial difficulties and cannot pay university fees on time. Then we try to interfere by writing a letter to the university to delay the payment of fees until the students get their money to pay. We sometimes lend money to students until their financial conditions improve.
In some cases, students miss the registration deadline, so we interfere requesting the universities continue to admit students or give them a second chance.
Upon the request of some of our students, we also write letters to universities to allow them to take more classes in order to finish their term on time and graduate and return home.
As you can see, most of the difficulties are financial, but we try our utmost to help them overcome them to continue their studies. We also communicate with the Ministry of Higher Education in Sana'a in order to send financial aid to those who need it.
Q: Are there any problems that you could not solve?
A: No. We believe that every problem has a solution, and we do whatever we can to prepare the ground and set the right conditions for our students to study hard and pass with distinction. We do what is on our part, and the rest is he students' task.
Q: Do you have any suggestion that will improve the academic performance of our students in Jordan?
A: Yes we have a number of suggestions. I believe the responsibility of implementing those suggestions is generally carried out by those institutions that provide scholarships and particularly the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
Our suggestions is that students should be sent only at the beginning of the academic year, those who come late generally miss vital sessions and lectures, which in turn affect their performance negatively.
Another suggestion is by encouraging hard working students by granting them scholarships once they pass with distention.
Furthermore, scholarships must be granted only in rare fields of study which are not available in our country and it would be better if scholarships are granted to postgraduates.
Q: Any final remarks you may have whether to Yemeni students or readers?
A: First of all, I express my sincere gratitude to Yemen Times for giving us this opportunity.
I would also like to express my appreciation to both, the Ministry of Higher Education and Ministry of Finance in Yemen for their role in helping solve problems of Yemeni students and in taking the brave decision to suspend scholarships of students who fail to graduate on time.
I am also grateful for being appointed as assistance cultural attache in our embassy in Jordan. I have definitely seized the opportunity to improve my experience theoretically and practically. At the same time, I would like to thank the Yemeni students in Jordan who have supported me while doing my job.
I would like to advise Yemeni students coming to study in Jordan to, right from the start, select the right and suitable field of study depending on their desires and qualifications. But in case they discover that field is not the right one, they should not hesitate to shift to the appropriate department so as to not waste any more time.
Finally, I would like to tell Yemeni students to study hard and bring pride to Yemen.

Some statistics
Number of Yemeni student in Jordan according to the latest statistics of the Yemeni Embassy in Jordan:
– Undergraduate students: 683
– Postgraduate students: 114
– Students sent by Yemeni Universities: 51
– Students sent by Ministry of Health: 53 doctors
– Expected graduates in the summer course 2002-2003: 61
Academic records received by the Yemeni Embassy in Jordan at every end of each term include:
1- No. of accumulative hours.
2- No. of accumulative hours passed successfully.
3- No. of course hours.
4- No. of course hours passed successfully.
5- No. of failed courses and selected hours.
6- The accumulative and Grade Point Average (GPA).
Any scholarship student who fails more than the allowed limit will be deprived of his scholarship according to a recent decision taken by the Ministry of Higher Education.
The number of students, who were deprived of their scholarships according to the decision because of their low level academic performance, in the year 2003 were 133, while 267 got warnings, and 33 got final ultimatum to improve their performance.

Cultural attache office of Yemen's Embassy to Jordan
The cultural attache office at the Yemeni embassy in Jordan is located in Amman's Tilal Al-Ali area, just opposite the College of Medicine. It is very clean and tidy, there is a banner hanged on the wall with a phrase reading”Please help us keep the cultural attache office a non-smoking area”. An old Yemeni flag was also placed on the roof, but was replaced by a new one just a few days ago.
The main staffers consist of two diplomatic officers who are Mohammad Al-Doeis the cultural attache; and Mohammad Ateeq the assistant cultural attache; and three other employees.
While visiting the cultural attache department for a whole week in August, I met many students, whom I asked about their problems and whether they had comments or suggestions. Interestingly, they refuse to talk, claiming that their salaries will be suspended if they do.
But nevertheless, I felt that this fear is exaggerated, especially when I met the two diplomats, who were quite modest and cooperative with all visitors, including myself.
It was impressive to know that the proper follow-up and continuous monitoring of the cultural attache department of the embassy at the students' academic performance resulted in a tremendous hard currency saving during April 2002 – Feb 2003 of USD 833,645, saved from the government budget.
Furthermore, following the execution of the decision taken by the Minister of Higher Education to deprive students who fail in their academic classes, a total sum of USD 670,000 was also saved. This could not have happened if it were not for the proper follow-up of the embassy's cultural attache.

Students commenting
When seeking their opinion about the last decision of the Ministry of Higher Education to deprive students of their scholarships if their academic performance deteriorates, many Yemeni students in Amman expressed their approval of the decision and said that this will definitely encourage them to pursue their studies more effectively.
Ali Al-Bishary, who is a freshman in the IT department at he Jordanian University said “It is indeed a good decision and a way to encourage better academic performance and at the same time fight corruption.”
Ali Al-Affary a third year student studying at the Administrative Information Systems Department of Azzarka Private University said” I support such decisions, which are considered a way to correct mistakes of the past.” He also wished that the government would deliver salaries on time.
Meanwhile, Faris Al-Noaman, a second year student suggested that the cultural attache would hold a meeting with students at the beginning of each semester to discuss their problems and needs.
Another Yemeni student at the Pharmacy Dept of the Jordanian Science and Technology University suggested that Yemeni students should not be given the same salaries. “The cost of living and expenses vary from one place to another and also depends on the field of study. This should be taken into consideration when allocating salaries for students in Jordan.” he said.
Adel Al-Matary a M.Sc student in Geology at Yarmouk University said that the mentioned decision is quite wise. “We are very proud of the staff at the Yemeni cultural department of the embassy. They have exerted great efforts to solve problems of postgraduate students, especially those concerning university fees.” he said. He also asks for an increase in salaries of postgraduate students due to hike in prices.
Ahmed saleh Al-Arami a Ph.D student at the Social and Human Sciences Department of Al-Albait University expressed his appreciation for efforts exerted by the cultural department of the embassy, especially in preparing all the convenient circumstances to study hard.
“Our salaries are deposited automatically at the Arab Bank quarterly. This indeed saves us time, efforts and money” he commented.