Rector of Ibbuniversity to the YT: Good education is no more a luxury [Archives:2002/04/Interview]

January 21 2002

Dr. Mohammed Ahmed al-Khader graduated from St.Josephs High School in Aden 1969. He got his basic degree in Chemistry from American University, Beinet in 1974; his postgraduate degree from Salford University in Britain in 1977. And the doctorate degree in 1981 from the same university, after his commendable research in the fields of organic chemistry and Biochemistry. He started his teaching career as an Assistant lecturer in Sanaa University in 1977 and he became lecturer in 1981. Later he became the vice-dean of the Faculty of Education in Sanaa University.
When he was the dean of the Faculty of Education in Sanaa, the Government sent him to Taiz university to found the Faculty of Education there in 1985. He is also the proud founder of the Faculty of Education in Ibb University in 1988-1990 he was an associate professor and then a professor in the department of Chemistry, Sanaa University. He chaired the department during 1991-1992 and 1997-2001.
He had academic honor of serving as a visiting professor in New York and Washington University U.S.A. during 1987-1988 and in Caen University in France in 1993.
In this span of 24 years of meritorious academic career, Dr. Mohammed has published more than 30 research papers and 4 books in his field. He has successful guided about 10 students for their master and doctoral degree. Ibrahim Addahan conducted the following interview with him.
Q: What are the social and academic aims that your University has so far achieved in the government of Ibb?
A: Ibb University was established in 1996 by a Republican Decree NO.91. Faculty of Education and the Agriculture Secondary School were the foundation stone for the University. The other faculties (arts, economics, science, dentistry and engineering) had no place. Since then I could say that Faculty of Engineering has secured the necessary building and Faculty of Arts to certain extent. By mid of 2002 we hope that work on the Labs and building of Faculty of Science, workshop of Faculty of Engineering and the temporary flour of Revolution Hospital for Faculty of Dentistry would be over, and these physical facilities will be ready to be used by the university. This you see, that work is going on. Plans are under study to build new faculties, education and dentistry. Universities are not built in a few years.
Q: The community colleges are very important for labor market and to fulfill the requirements of the state policy, do you have plans to start such colleges in you university?
A:There are plans to start Commerce College in Yarim next year. Ibb University will have definitely a hand.
Q: The Ibb governorate is obviously full of tourist places and a department for preparing graduates for tourism industry seems to be necessary. Why isnt there a special department in this field in the university? And what is the role of the university in helping the tourism department of the government of Yemen?
A:This is a natural, logic and intelligent question. Of course, the university is willing to start such a program in the evening Province. But we must not rush. We have to look for revenues, facilities and qualified instructors. We must do our homework and prepare slowly but steadily.
Q:The admission policy for this year was distinguished by increasing the illegibility percentage of marks. Is that a new policy for the country? Dont you think that it helps private universities indirectly? And what is the plight of the students who got law percentage of marks?
A: The admission policy to the governmental universities was drawn by the High Council Universities. The main objective is to limit and stop pressure and go-in-between (wisatah) that was going on for the last thirty years and which was shameful and unacceptable. To answer the second part of your question. No private universities will harvest what we plant. The High Council of Universities also assigned and drew a line beyond which private universities cannot go below.
Students with marks lower than 70% may enroll in a community college or other similar institute (2-year diploma in computer, business, etc) which jobs are required and are rewarding even better than the income of a university graduation.
Q: What is your evaluation regarding the university education in Yemen? And what are the real steps to reform the university education as well as tackling its problems?
A: The quality of University Education is proportional to the revenues one spends on. In spite of all the huge sums the government spends on University Education, it is still far away. The community must participate. Even in the richest countries in the world, education is not free. Thus, people must realize that good education is no more a luxury, but we have to bear some of its burden.
Q: What are the reasons behind the universities not being the centers of scientific research? And how we can improve the scientific research in the future?
A: Again, depending on the official support for primary, secondary and University Education leads us to a dead end. To have centers of scientific research, national industry (private and government) must cover the cost of such centers.
This is, I believe, the way leading to a good research.
Q: As for the English teaching in the university is concerned, do you think the aims of English teaching are achieve?
A: We will never say enough; because if we say so, stagnation will result improvement and development not only in the English Dep. but in all faculties should be continuous. Contacts with other universities, students and staff should be allowed to travel around New text, periodical and audio visuals should be acquired.
Q: Do you have any plans to revise the syllabus of any courses in the university in the light of your reach experiences as a professional?
A: A new dept. under my auspices has been established Academic Development Unit
Some of its objects:
1- Revise and develop all syllabuses.
2- Compare with similar courses in other regional and international Universities.
3- To have such information available in the Internet and so on.
But dont expect such work to be complete in few weeks.
Q: Do you have plans to introduce any new courses in the future?
A: A lot of ideas are still in my head. I call upon Allah to grant me strength and guidance in order to implement all the good plans I have so a to make Ibb University a better center of excellence.
Q: At the end, do you want to say some thing to Yemen Times readers in general?
A:Yemen Times proved to be a leader of its kind. My warmest congratulations on the good work being done. I recommend students at the English department to acquire it and read it on a regular basis. For other readers I ask them to fully support Yemen Times and not let such a jewel be lost.