Prof. Ahmed Mohammed Shuga’a Al-Deen to Yemen Times”Ibb university is committed to ushering in a new era in education.” [Archives:2004/703/Education]

January 15 2004

Since its inception in 1996, Ibb university has been consistently striving to establish itself as a pre-eminently front-ranking university. This relentless endeavor has crystallized itself and has gathered further momentum after Prof. Ahmed Mohammed Shuga'a Al-Deen assumed the august office of its Rector. In our attempt to shed light on some of the significant milestones the university has crossed so far, Dr. Ramakanta Sahu had an informal chat with Prof. Shuga'a to get a slice of his vision and futuristic outlook on a number of pertinent academic issues including his agenda of action for placing the university in the forefront of academic excellence.


RKS: Could you please give us a brief account of the origin and growth of Ibb University and your association with it?
Prof. Shuga'a: Let me begin by thanking Yemen Times for evincing keen interest in the current academic issues in Yemen.
I'm happy that the Yemen Times is the first English newspaper that is interviewing me after the “Green Newspaper” in Ibb.
Actually, I joined Ibb University quite recently. In fact, Ibb University is one of the relatively new universities in Yemen having been established in 1996. Ibb University has eight colleges with an enrolled strength of 9,650 students.
The University is committed to ushering in a new educational revolution in Ibb. Therefore, it is one of my top priorities to unleash efforts to place the university in the forefront of the universities in Yemen in particular and the universities of the Arab world in general. The reforms I envisage would involve the whole gamut of university ambience including teaching staff, students, other academic fields and the university administration per se.

RKS: How does the present Ibb University compare with other universities in Yemen, Sana'a University, for example?
Prof. Shuga'a: Sana'a University, the mother of the universities in Yemen, was established in 1970 followed by Aden University in 1975. Therefore, there is a big difference between Ibb university and those universities in terms of faculty members, students, infrastructure and other facilities considering the inceptional time gap between them. However, I will work hard with determination and optimism so that Ibb University could achieve great strides in academic, scientific and administrative as well as other allied fields.

RKS: Kindly tell us something about the outstanding academic achievements of Ibb university?
Prof. Shuga'a: Most of the academic distinctions of Ibb University are correlated with its eight premier colleges, which are doing well in terms of their avowed goals in the academic fields. To my mind, this will enable the University to take its legitimate position among the other universities of the Republic to render signal service to the society.
We have to bear in mind the fact that the population density in Ibb is the highest in the Republic of Yemen. This point has to be taken into consideration when we are thinking of human resource development in the Republic in different fields such as education, environment, health and other similar significant fields whose development is concomitant with the university education.

RKS: What are your views about launching a faculty improvement program and enhancing the students' attainment level?
Prof. Shuga'a: I am planning to take the following measures in the University of Ibb:
a) Review the current academic programs in order to change them in accordance with the new developments in the field of education.
b) Incorporate innovative methods of evaluation of:
i) Performance of members of the teaching staff by the chairpersons of the respective departments along with their evaluation by students.
ii) Performance of the chairpersons of the various departments by the Deans.
iii) Performance of Deans by the Rector.
c) Bring about research journals conforming to international standards in order to promote original research work by the members of the teaching staff, students and other researchers.

I am confident that these measures will significantly contribute towards achieving progress in different academic and administrative affairs of the University. I am pretty sure these will help revitalize the academic atmosphere and activate the administrative set-up of the University.

RKS: What is your opinion about improving the students' level of attendance in the classes?
Prof. Shuga'a: I feel that the most important factor to draw students to classrooms is to motivate them. This can be achieved by bringing about improvement in classroom ecology which in turn depends on the excellence of the staff members. Students are very keen to attend when the teacher is highly qualified, well-organized, well-resourced, honest and excellent in his profession. I am pretty sure that promoting a lively interaction between this kind of teacher and students will be a positive step towards ensuring a higher attendance rate. Moreover, there should be extra-curricular and cultural activities for students to ensure a holistic growth of their personality. These would cumulatively exert positive impact for the promotion of the academic profile of the University.

RKS: Could you please tell us about the most pressing problem faced by the University and what is your proposed course of action?
Prof. Shuga'a: The most pressing problem faced by the University is the unavailability of underground water to meet the increasing needs of the college laboratories, mosques and for other day-to-day needs. Therefore, it is very urgent to solve this chronic problem.
However, there are other problems also which, we hope to overcome, by implementing the following action-plan in foreseeable future:
a) Equip the library with new, standard and recent books in various disciplines.
b) Set up new laboratories to cope with the emerging demands.
c) Equip the colleges with new and high capacity multipurpose computers and Internet for staff members as well as for students in order to improve teaching, research, and global 'connectivity'.
d) Acquire more land in order to build new colleges for future needs.
e) Construct new, well-furnished buildings for visiting professors as well as for other visitors.
f) Have a suitable conference hall, as well as hostels for students to accommodate students of different streams from various parts of the country and abroad in order that the University could play a more meaningful and more positive role in the society.

RKS: You would perhaps agree with us that the salary structure for academic staff of the universities in Yemen does not compare favorably with that in other Arab countries. What is your opinion about a hike of staff salaries?
Prof. Shuga'a: Actually, each country has its own circumstances and special problems. The Arab Gulf countries have an improved economy. Moreover, their population is very limited compared to their assets. Therefore, they can spare a lot of their available resources to spend lavishly on developmental projects. We should bear in mind that the rate of growth of population in the Republic of Yemen is disproportionate to the resources available. For example, it was as high as 3.7 in 1994 and the estimated rate of growth is 3.5 in 2003. The economy of the Republic of Yemen is not on par with that in other Arab Gulf countries.
However, in comparison we can find out that the salaries for academic staff is much better than those working in other sectors; but at the same time we have to work for increasing the salaries of our academic staff within the constraints of the country's economy.

RKS: Yemen Times is the first and the only newspaper, which has a full page on Education, and we have recently completed 200 lessons of “Improve Your English” for students. What is your opinion about it?
Prof. Shuga'a: Congratulations on the completion of 200 lessons of “Improve Your English”. I hope that other newspapers will do the same for the improvement of linguistic skills of our students. Besides, I hope that Yemen Times could expand its sphere of activities in order to achieve a more dynamic role in the sphere of the educational development in the Republic of Yemen.

RKS: Any last message to the students of Ibb University in particular and Yemeni students in general.
Prof. Shuga'a: All I hope is that all students would strive towards getting more knowledge, prepare their lessons well, attending the classes and being more judicious in engaging themselves in socially productive activities as much as possible in order to serve their country after the completion of their studies in the university.
I hope that they are going to be role models in terms of their code of conduct, behaviour and attitudes and would richly deserve to be the torch bearers of the glorious heritage of Yemen and our living hope for tomorrow.