Populated Schools, Yet Useless Education [Archives:2001/03/Reportage]

January 15 2001

Akram Al Saqqaf
Yemen Times
A common scene in any school in Yemen, especially in all-boys schools is the outburst of students when its break time or end of school day. Tragic-comic accidents take place during the flow of students out, all speeding away from school like prisoners set free, causing injuries to those with small bodies or who stand in the way.
A high school generally contains more than 5000 students divided in to no more than 40 classes giving a ratio of around 120 per class, in a room 6×8 meters in size.
Stories about students beating up teachers and teachers dismissing tens of students all together from classes are not new in Yemen.
Most high school students are originally working elsewhere and are trying to study at the same time.
I am a married man, and my wife is pregnant. I am working as a mechanic after school, which I dont attend much. I have been trying to pass my 12th grade for the past 4 years with no use, and the school is not helping! Mohammed, a high school student exclaimed.
This was one of many cases, which are actually existing in our schools today. The number of college droppers is increasing day by day, not only because students could not pass in schools, but schools also are not able to take care of their students, as mentioned by students as well as their teachers.
I hardly know any of my students, most of the time I am greeted by someone in the streets who seems older than I, because I am his teacher! said Fawzi Ahmed, Religion teacher.
Teacher Mahdi Yihya Al Guwaidi, Supervisor in Al Mutasim Primary School told the YemenTimes that the system in school has become better this year due to the changes taken place in the decisions and new qualifications brought to the school. As for the obstacles faced in the school, one of the main ones is that students parents do not understand circumstances of education in our country. They always blame the school for any mishaps and flaws in their childrens education. Also many parents do not do the required follow up of the students at home. Sometimes we never know the parents of the children for years. There are no parents council activities.
As for education in general, we all know that what actually is happening could not be called education. We have see that a student comes to school not even knowing why he is here. And what for. Even the parent does not know why he sends his child to school everyday. 
And what should he do to help in his childs education. All of this becomes the burden of the principals and supervisors in the school. And sometimes in schools, because in the suburbs there might be one principal for two or three schools simultaneously. Obviously causing inefficient management over all. Not only that, but even in the capital the appointment of principals is done regardless of qualification but with regard to how much money you pay or whom do you know in the Ministry instead. Inspectors are so easily bribed, books never reach students on time and the cycle goes on and on.
We need better education for our students and all is in the hands of the Ministry. This is a plea from all of us to whoever is concern.
The Ministry of Education is supposed to play its role and take responsibility for the education of students. Our government spends huge amounts of money on military issues whereas the budget for education is hardly anything in compared with what it should have been. The budget declared for year 2001 for education was estimated to be 10,043,000 thousand rials, in compared to last years which was 7,018,000 thousand rials.
Politics has invaded schools, even at the primary school level. It has become very easy to recruit and dismiss teachers according to their political loyalty. This has been happening throughout the entire system of education in Yemen. I am an Arabic teacher and due to arguments with my principal I have been given physics to teach and to secondary level students at that, said a teacher who preferred to remain anonymous.
Teacher Mohammed Hamid, Arabic Language teacher says, frankly speaking, there isnt any kind of system at all. There might be rules and regulations but all are dumped aside inactivated for reasons better left unknown. As for the problems faced by teachers in schools, then I could say that the salary we receive is the first disadvantage. It is too less in compared with the efforts spent in teaching and education. It hardly lasts until mid month, especially when the teachers law discussed since 98 and only applied to a few teachers only.
Another problem is the crowding of classes, so many students and very few chairs. Although, there are many broken chairs that could be repaired and reused. The lack of educational instruments is always there and finally the ill suiting of syllabus with the students standards, especially in mathematics.
What Mr. Hamid said is very true. Teachers are the worst treated profession although its most important. Even due respect is not granted to them. The aspect of piled damaged furniture is there in every school and the ill maintenance of school property especially by students is a phenomena worth stopping at and considering.
The whole world is aware about the power and importance of knowledge except Yemen and countries like it. Coming generations are not being groomed up to have even the basic levels of education and awareness, even though they might be carrying university degrees. It is very ironic that in Sanaa itself the number of educational institutions is increasing day by day, yet rate of illiteracy is 85%. What are we heading for?