Sanaa Model Kindergarten [Archives:1998/08/Culture]
Kindergartens in Yemen face numerous problems. In spite of the governing rules issued in 1992 to regulate their activities, kindergartens in general do not adhere to these regulations. There are around 160 kindergartens in the capital Sanaa, only 21 of them have proper licenses from the Ministry of Education. Not all governorates in Yemen has kindergartens. There are around 250,000 children enrolled in these kindergartens. In Aden alone, there are 14 state-owned kindergartens and one private one. In Sanaa, on the other hand, there are 155 private kindergartens and five ones belonging to various social organizations. Some of these kindergartens are housed in small apartments, denying children the necessary space for playing and other activities.
There are only two kindergartens in Sanaa belonging to the Yemen Women’s Union. They are both non-profit making establishments, benefiting families with limited income.
Yemen Times met the Sanaa Model Kindergarten’s headmistress, Ms. Aman Ali, and other teachers during a visit to their kindergarten.
The kindergarten is housed in a Sanaa villa. It has a garden and a playing ground with swings and slides, four classrooms, a video room, a small library, an office, kitchen, and toilets. The building was donated by the Sanaa Local Council in 1982.
The number of employees: one director, 8 teachers appointed by the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs, a gardener, charladies, etc. It is run by the Yemen Women’s Union, the Sanaa branch. The aim of this kindergarten is to help working women.
There are several conditions for admission. The child’s mother must be a working woman, the child must not be under 3, and not above 6. Fees of YR 800 month must be regularly paid. The administration keeps a file for each child containing a birthday certificate and 4 pictures. The child’s parents are given a card showing the child’s name, age ,and photo, to be presented when the child is collected at the end of the day.
Total number of children enrolled is 110 divided into 3 groups: 3-4 years, 4-5 years, and 5-6 years old. In each lesson two teachers are usually present together: one gives the lesson and the other supervises the children’s work.
The curricula is prepared by the headmistress and the teachers. There is no official curriculum. Children are taught to read and write Arabic and to recite the Qura’an. They are shown video educational films in a special room but their response to them is not encouraging. Those between 5 and 6 are also taught simple arithmetic principles and basic English to prepare them for primary school.
Books and stationary cost their families around YR 600. The kindergarten provides water colour pigments and drawing paper.
There are no exams, but there is an evaluation process according to which a certificate is given. The certificate contains an evaluation of the child’s behavior, language ability, physical growth and development, self-reliance, artistic activities and arithmetic abilities. Primary schools generally do not give much regard to such certificates because they are not part of the general educational system.
First-aid facilities and kits exist in the kindergarten for preventative reasons, but no serious accidents take place because the children are carefully watched by their teachers. No serious accidents have occurred since this kindergartens was established.
Morning assembly is from 8.15 to 8.30 AM. The youngest, 3-4 year-olds then start to have their breakfast. The 4-5 year-olds go into the playing ground awaiting breakfast for half an hour. The 5-6 year -olds go into the classrooms to work for half an hour up to breakfast time. Each child brings his or her food with himself.
There are no food facilities in the kindergarten. There are 8 periods a day with various classroom activities such as drawing, singing children songs andlistening to children’s fables.
Boys wear white shirts and a burgundy ties, waistcoats, and trousers. girls wear white shirts and burgundy dresses and bow- ties. The uniform gives the child a sense of equality and discipline.
There are indoor and outdoor games that the children can play. The outdoor games are playing in the playground, football, rope jumping, tug-of-war etc. Inside the classroom, they play with wooden building cubes, plasticine, coloring, etc.
1- There is an overwhelming admission application which it cannot all accept due to the building’s limited space and limited number of teachers. They turned back more than 70 pupils this year alone.
2- Teaching aids are old and decrepit because they were bought in 1982.
3- There are no photocopy machines to reproduce the coloring drawings.
4- Huge water and electricity bills are beyond the actual consumption.
5- Although the fees, YR 800, are not high compared to other private kindergartens (more than YR1000), parents complained when the fees were raised from 500 to 800YR last September because they are mainly people with a limited income.
6- The bus which was used to transport the children to and from their homes has now broken down. So parents now have to bring their children by private transport or by themselves which costs them more money and can make them waste their time.
There is a continuous conflict between the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Yemen Women’s Union on the teachers’ salaries, which is not yet settled. This problem flares every month when the teaches go to receive their wages and it greatly frustrates them.
7-Children from broken homes or with family problems are usually shy, withdrawn and wet themselves. Teachers often try to integrate them with the others.