Non-Governmental Higher Education Conference Concludes [Archives:2000/23/Last Page]

June 5 2000

Jalal Al-Sharaabi
Yemen Times
The non-governmental higher education conference organized by the Queen Arwa University in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs concluded Last Thursday.
The opening ceremony was attended by Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour, Minister of Education Dr. Yahia Al-Sho’aibi, President of Sana’a University Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Maqaleh and a number of Arab and foreign delegations. In his speech Mr. Hadi Mansour said that the conference was held within the framework of evaluating non-governmental higher education so as to improve the quality of education. He characterized non-governmental educational institutions as complementary to the governmental educational institutions, all of which aimed at qualifying people to shoulder their responsibilities in society.
President of Queen Arwa University, Dr. Wahibah Fare’a said that the participation of key functionaries in educational hierarchy reflected their deep awareness of one of the most crucial issues before the society. Its importance hinges upon a number of factors such as the steady development and progress of the country, the mushrooming of non-governmental educational institutions, causing undesirable dilution in the quality of education, inability of governmental institutions to cope with the increasing number of students. She stressed the fact that the non-governmental institutions need to be generously supported by the government.
In response to the Yemen Times’ question about the problems and prospects of non-governmental universities, the Minister of Education said that he supported the efforts of non-governmental universities provided they open new majors and emerging fields of specialization keeping in view the challenges of the future. In addition he emphasized that such universities should have their own teaching cadre and that their main aim must be improving the quality of education.
He also said that a law controlling and organizing such universities was currently being discussed by the parliament and would soon be passed. According to the provisions of the law, universities would be given a 6-year term to prepare their own cadres.
President of Sana’a University, Dr. Al-Maqaleh said that all educational institutions were competing with each other to produce a crowd of unemployed who were desperately looking for any kind of work opportunities even if they were beyond their area of specialization. “It is not important to have a great number of universities. What is more important is the ability of these universities to prepare a well-qualified people to serve their country,” he added.
Ahmad Duidar Al-Basioni, Assistant secretary general of the Federation of Arab Universities said:
“The conference itself is a positive step because higher education is one of the complicated issues which need to be thoroughly discussed in many conferences.”
“Non-governmental higher education is very necessary to outline a development strategy for the future of Yemen. Yemen is a developing country and we can not depend entirely on the governmental sectors for the development of education. The governmental universities will not be able in the near future to receive the increasing volume of students. Therefore we should encourage non-governmental universities to come to our rescue provided that they are adequately controlled and supervised. These shouldn’t be allowed to repeat the same specialization available in the governmental universities,” said Dr. Ibtihaj Saeed Al-Khaibah, Vice-dean of Aden University for society affairs.
Dr. Mohammed Abdu Majeed Al-Qubati of Sana’a University lauded the objectives and goals of the conference. However, he deplored the change in the perspective for defining the non-governmental education. “I think that, the main matter was the outcome of these universities which produce crowds of unemployed. The conference should have focused on this issue as it is a recent phenomenon in our society. The discussion, however, was exclusively confined to university education although higher education includes post secondary studies as well. An important implication of this is that universities must include technical colleges because at present most of the technical cadre in Yemen are filled by expatriates.
The second point I would like to mention relates to the need to analyze to what extant our universities are aware of their role in generating skilled manpower able to cope with the new technology and information revolution.
The world looks at the illiterate person as one who is unable to educate himself. In this context I wonder if our universities can produce graduates who are able to further educate themselves,’ he added.
Dr. Mina’a Ghattas, Boston University highlighted the importance of cybereducation. He welcomed the idea of creating a TV channel exclusively for distance education.
Chris Eccel, American Cultural Attach, highlighted the American University accreditation system. He said that allUniversities and colleges in America needed to be accredited by professional societies specialized in their discipline which are all non-governmental and strongly defend their autonomy. He listed a number of important criteria for accreditation published by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and colleges (NEASC) which accredits colleges and universities. These are: mission and purposes, planning and evaluation, organization and governance, programs and instruction, faculty, student services, library and information resources, physical resources, financial resources, Public disclosure and Integrity.