Our Kids & Summer Vacation [Archives:1999/28/Focus]

July 12 1999

By: Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi, 
Managing Editor
It is a common belief that kids and teenagers are the centers of hope for their nations. Accordingly, they are being taken care of and given top priority worldwide. Once these members of society are built up properly, the future of a country looks fruitful and promising. Therefore, the world gives summer vacations special attention, and prepares various activities and programs to keep their kids and teenagers fruitfully busy. There are organizations all over the world that exploit summer vacations well so as to explore their kids’ talents and skills and polish them.
Unfortunately, in Yemen our kids are not provided with such mechanisms and facilities. Concerned organizations and bodies are very limited. The Ministry of Education doesn’t have any plans for the summer vacations to keep our kids and teenagers busy. The Ministry of Sports and Youth has limited activities which are not open and available or suitable for all. In Yemen, around 50% of the population is under the age of 18 years old. This means half of our population is teenagers and kids. Therefore, neglecting them and paying no attention to their needs means half of the population has nobody to take care of them. As a result, kids have nothing to do during summer vacations. They have no clubs to keep them busy. Some drift the streets aimlessly and just hang around with their friends all the time. Hence, some of them fall easy prey to bad habits and influences, which is devastating to the human resources our nation needs for its future growth. Some of these kids are forced into working, begging or whatever, all of which is illegal at this tender age.
It is really very unfortunate that parents are not aware of the needs of their kids and teenagers. They are not acting as good role models. Rather, they spend most of their time chewing qat. Some of them are only models for their kids as good qat chewers. It is somewhat daunting to realize that 17% of the German children know how to work on computers, while only a tiny fraction of our entire population knows what computers are. The number of people in Yemen, youngsters or adults, who can actually use a computer is even smaller. The gap is wide, isn’t it?
It has become a custom that we always account for our plights by pointing to a shortage of resources. But I believe our predicament is not a lack of resources in general. Rather, it is mismanagement and lack of plans. A lot of money is wasted on uncalled-for things. Therefore, I think it is very urgent that a plan be developed to help our kids and teenagers and keep them fruitfully busy during summer vacations. Each city can provide, in the beginning at least, one recreational center. These recreational centers should be provided with some facilities and useful programs that help these kids flourish and polish their talents. It is not a problem if these kids are bound to pay token fees, such as 500 riyals, as long as they spend their time fruitfully and get the use of that. These programs should include some lessons in computers, since computer literacy has become one of the essential needs of any human being willing to move into the 21st century more strongly. The government, private sector NGOs, and even political parties, can be instrumental in providing useful summer programs for our kids.
Parents and people in authority should understand that the needs of our kids in this technologically revolutionized era are quite different. Our kids and teenagers should be built up and given the right education. Otherwise, their future will be full of daunting challenges. Therefore, efforts to help our kids and keep them fruitfully busy are urgent. Is there somebody listening to me?