Mr. Yahya Mohammed al-Qahera, al-Moatasem School Principal to YT:”Teachers at present have fallen prey to insults in our school environment” [Archives:2003/644/Culture]

June 23 2003
Yahya al-Qahera, Principal
Yahya al-Qahera, Principal
Al-Moatasem school
Al-Moatasem school
Interviewed by
Mohammed Bin Sallam
Yemen Times Staff

It is a well-known fact that education is deteriorating a lot in our country. The ignominious conditions of learning inside schools, universities and the absence of a mature learning environment today have all affected the educational process to the core.
The lack of a proper methodical and systematic learning can also stand firmly as a stumbling block hindering any educational improvements. In other words, the lack of educational facilities like libraries, well qualified and experienced teachers, contribute to education process deterioration. We really have a thirst for gaining knowledge and also feel uneasy for such regrettable state of affairs.
All our eyes are focused on the educationists and education ministry to make strenuous efforts for modernizing school basic infrastructure. They are supposed to act seriously and try to save and improve education. The educational issues are one of the most important issues that should be taken into consideration by the political leadership and decision-makers.
Immediate solutions have to be offered in order to update and modernize our education. Taking an interest in education has to be given priority with regard to the state's plans and programs. The society's prosperity and progress is closely related to the learning seekers, their knowledge and their behavior.
They can not be developed unless there are highly developed educational methods and an active modern management to face the ever-increasing educational demand and seeking for modernization as that enjoyed in advanced countries.
Despite of rapid increase of educational institutions covering all education stages, education in our country doesn't possess the necessary modern factors. It has been greatly deteriorated.
The final desired learning aims are inadequate and don't meet future ambitions. In order to know all about educational realty in our community, a light has been shed on by the Mr. Yahya Mohammed Abdullah al-Qahera, the al-Moatasem School Principal…
Mohammed bin Sallam, from Yemen Times staff has recently interviewed him and filed the following story.

Q: How do you evaluate current educational situation at al-Moatasem School in particular and in Yemen in general?
A: From the outset, an overall evaluation of the educational reality at al-Moatasem School in particular and in Yemen in general needs a stress on effecting immediate solutions. There should be a focused attention by educational bodies to find solutions and to determine merits and disadvantages of the educational processes and its curricula. Education is in dire need for concentrated efforts to be made. There are numbers of teething problems starting from teachers, curricula, educational aids, school buildings, supervision, desks , water and finally school management, which is one of the most significant factors that determine education success or failure.
Present generation students' attitude towards learning enthusiasm to master basics of learning skills vary from those of earlier generations. After his university degree, a teacher doesn't get enough qualification training. He isn't well-trained for the subject of his specialty, particularly those of the basic education. A special attention has to be paid with regard to the selection of the best qualified teachers for the students at the basic education to guarantee getting positive educational outcomes.
But, more sorrow than in anger, teachers of the basic education are not qualified enough and the result is reflected upon the students themselves.
I reiterate that the stage of the basic education is the mainstay of our pedagogical and educational reality in our country. When a student is properly and purely taught, the educational standards will undoubtedly be developed. As opposed to this, if our students are taught by incompetent and unqualified teachers, the learning educational outcomes will be too poor.

Q: As for low educational level in our country, where do you think the defect lies?
A: The defect in this case lies teachers themselves. Teachers constitute 60 percent, while the father constitutes just 10 percent. The rest of the percentage should be held accountable by the educational administration and its system. What is needed is to reconsider the educational curricula in accordance with contemporary changes. The present which we live in is so different and therefore we have to adopt brave political decisions.

Q: Can you make a distinction between the private schools the public schools?
A: Curricula are the same in both. Classes at the private schools are not crammed as the situation is at the public schools. As for the al-Moatasem School, the number of students now has been ranging from 60 to 70 students. In the past, the number of students in each classroom was double. While in the private schools, the number of students in the class doesn't exceed 20 students. In private schools, the English language subject is taught starting from the first grade of the basic education while in the public schools, English is taught at the seventh grade of the basic education. Other educational facilities are fully equipped in private schools. There are many shortages in educational facilities in our public schools.
Private schools activities are better organized by their administrations, such as, music, picnics, sports and other entertainment outdoors activities. Private school management prefers well qualified teachers hired for their schools. The curricula amendments to adapt to contemporary changes have also improved curricula images in a faster manner.

Q: Students nowadays complain of not finishing some text books, what do you think the reasons are behind such a delay?
A: There are a number of reasons behind such educational problem. The education ministry and an absence of an active administration is one reason behind the delay of some school texts. School curricular should be given to students before the beginning of the academic year. The shortage of well-qualified teachers particularly teachers of scientific subjects also causes confusion. If a male teacher becomes sick or that a female teacher in a state of delivery, so they have to take several days or months sick leaves. This in turn has resulted in the delay of delivering lessons to students as a result of unavailability of teachers. In addition to this, the shortage of specialized teachers has become another tangled problem undergone by the majority of the Yemeni schools.
The absence of Yemeni teachers from attending schools without excuses is also another problem posed. This is because; educational proper measures have not been adopted or applied by the education bodies.

Q: Do you prefer male or female teachers in your school and why?
A: Female teachers are the best for the students of the basic education.
But the problem lies in their matrimonial life when they become mothers and that is why their duty sometimes comes to a standstill. But in most cases, male teachers are, no doubt, the best for students at secondary schools. Female teachers at secondary schools are exposed to annoyances and harassment by grown-ups at the secondary schools.

Q: How many hours or days in the whole academic year?
A: The approved period is 6 months in a year. But as a result of religious and national festivals, demonstrations which are staged from time to time, along with sit-ins, the academic year period is shortened. There are also other factors leading to wasting time.
To make it short, time is uselessly wasted and we are in need of reconsidering it in order to fill the gap to educate and assimilate the school curricula. The education ministry should be held accountable in this regard.

Q: What is the role of psychiatrists and social specialists in schools?
A: We have male and female researchers in psychiatry and their job is restricted only to conducting analysis on the students' cases. The researcher in this case is entrusted with a number school-related issues such as, individual cases study, abnormal diagnosis, school drop-outs, student's carelessness to wear the school uniform, cleanliness, and conducting a student-related study in his/her social context. Depending on the researchers' reports we try within the context of the school only to evaluate some of those studies. Regrettably, no due attention has been paid too those studies and researches in order to be documented or to be made use of in order to apply in all schools of the republic.

Q: How do you assess the student-teacher relationship?
A: The student-teacher relationship is too low these days due to the social context or the family where the student lives. The teacher-student or student-teacher relationship is in very deplorable conditions. Let me give you an example. A mother of a student came too furious to our school, because her son was punished by the school administration due to his smoking habit at the school. Do you know what the mother's reaction toward us was? “He is smoking cigarettes at his own expanse and not at school's. Leave him do whatever he wants,” the mother says loudly. That is the mother reaction to the school.
This has been also reflected upon the behavior of other students where the family and the home is the original context in order to make either a good or bad student of him. The mother's response was too embarrassing and I don't think that the other Yemeni mothers have the same behaviors. This is not only enough; the teacher himself has fallen prey to insults and indecent words which have become so common those days in our school environment.

Q: In order to rectify student's behavior, what is the common disciplinary measure taken against students?
A: Punishing students is always pedagogical and for the interest of the students themselves. We don't use rods as it used to be. Advices are offered to them or physical punishment as standing for a while or dismissing them from the class are the proper disciplinary means for students. This depends on the mistake he makes. Sometimes, we have to take other disciplinary measures such as informing a student's father in order to discuss solutions. Some of students' fathers come to school for this purpose, some others don't.

Q: What about girl students, do you face the same problems as that of boys?
A: The percentage of the problems on part of girl students is less because girl students are by nature more delicate, and quiet. But their social problems are numerous. In spite of those problems, positive results are achieved and felt among them if compared to boys.

Q: What the steps have been taken to tackle teacher-student problems?
A: In this regard, school psychiatrist or social specialist has to study the student's case. Then, the student's father should be informed on his son's behavior. First aid diagnosis is made to him and then the student is brought back to school after taking a commitment for repeating any further mistakes. If such procedures are proved to be of no avail, we have at length to dismiss him from school. Last year, for instance, three students were dismissed from school due to harassment of a female teacher in the school.

Q: What are the main problems faced by your school?
We sometimes complain of water shortages. This has put us in a very difficult situation before students and teachers as a whole. As that of other schools in the Capital Secretariat, schools are in need to be repaired. During the winter season, students are chilled to the bone because of broken window panes during all the academic year. In addition to this, there is no school doctor in order to take care of cases in our school. The main problem also is the shortage of chairs.
As a result of this, some of the students have to sit on the ground.

Q: Any last comment?
A: During the last years, the school underwent delay in finishing the school scheduled curricula. But as a result of appointing Mr. Yahya al-Makhethi, the Education Office Director. We don't also too much indebted to Mr. Zaid Ashatebi, the Educational Unit Zone Director for his full understanding of his role to settle a number of problems.
But presently, most of those issues have been overcome.
I'm totally against working on Thursdays, because it proves to be of no avail.