Reform of education: Best cure for Yemen [Archives:2004/699/Opinion]

January 1 2004

By Naji Saleh Abutalah
[email protected]
Hadramout, Yemen

Education is the best reformer of nations. It receives great attention all around the world. Countries make plans, invest huge amounts of money and exert great efforts to improve education in all aspects because the development of any nation depends on how the youth are educated.
Looking at other nations' achievements, we find that the modern world in the West has achieved a tremendous progress in all aspects of life and has become the leader of modern technology. So, education comes first for any nation to keep its cultural heritage and to improve its way of life. In Yemen education has got noticeable focus since the downfall of the Imam in the 1960s. Schools have been built and children have been able to join them and continue up to universities. But still education in Yemen needs to be improved and major changes ought to be carried out. In this essay, I am going discuss the major problems which face the educational process and what should be done to improve it from my own point of view.
If we have a look at the current situation of education, we will see how poor it is in comparison with other countries. Actually, we lack schools that meet international standards. When you pay a visit to any school in Yemen, the first thing you notice is the shortage of necessary equipment, furniture, tools, labs and computers. Interviewing teachers and having a little chat with them will give you a clear idea of what is going on behind the scenes. The problems of teachers have an unavoidable impact on the educational process in general, because they are the bridges of communication between knowledge and the students. If they are not prepared and not strong enough to transfer this knowledge, students will never be able to receive that knowledge and consequently, education will not hit its target. Teachers' problems can be summarized in these words: no development programs & no reasonable compensation. Another fault worth mentioning here is the procrastination of teaching the English language in schools till grade seven. Despite the fact that English is the language of sciences and business, children are not allowed to learn this language until they have already spent six years in the primary school and that is really harmful. To top it all, sport activities are not paid enough attention in our schools, which is far from the integral concept of education: the healthy mind in the healthy body.
Having looked at the poor situation of education, let us think about the way out and find the solutions to the major problems that really obstruct its progress. Firstly, schools should be built according to the modern international standards. They ought to be equipped with the necessary equipment, furniture, labs, tools and computers. Secondly, teachers' problems should be looked at from different angles. On the one hand, teachers' skills ought to be developed by enrolling them in courses such as Methodology and Presentation Skills. On the other hand, they should be fairly compensated by paying them good salaries to encourage them and, also, to reduce their financial problems, which will dramatically increase their productivity and creativity. Thirdly, English language ought to be taught from the first grade and children should be given the opportunity to cope with world globalization as English has become an international language that people all around the world use to communicate. Finally, physical education should be brought up to surface and given more attention in order to help the youth grow up healthily.
Since the symptoms are acknowledged and the remedy is known, we have to carry on and do the reforms. So, for the sake of our people, our government ought to step further on to reform the path of education to offer better opportunities to both our kids and the coming generation so that we live a better life.