Symposium on Education in Yemen [Archives:2001/23/Culture]

June 4 2001

Indeed, illiteracy gives women a feeble role in the development of society and in life as general, while education and knowledge grants women a far-sighted view in life and enable them to contribute to bringing about social transformation.
Today, doors before the educated woman have been open to give her a chance to be active and creative in society.
Therefore, the educated women equipped with the modern educational approaches will be able to bring up a generation who can undertake the responsibility of building a better future.
A symposium held by the cultural Al-afif institution on the theme ”The Woman and Education”, discussed various obstacles impeding the education process and a number of allied issues.
At the outset of the symposium, Ibtihal Al-fudhli, one of the institution’s functionaries presented two distinguished figures working in the field of education. Both hold a Ph.D. in philosophy. They were: Dr. Amat Al-razaq Ali and Dr. Insaf A. Qasim.
Dr. Uma is working as a professor at Sana’ University, Education Faculty. She is also the Chairman of the women’s wing of The People’s General Conference. she has specialized in curricula and teaching approaches. She has authored four books for the Teacher Institutions on the curricula and teaching approaches, Arabic language skills, characteristics of child culture and psychology of child’s play.
Dr. Insaf A. Qasim is working as a Vice-Chairwoman of the Education Research Center. She has been working in the field of education and teaching since 1997 and has participated in numerous conferences and symposia, the last one being in Cairo in which she presented a working paper on girls’ education in Yemen.
Also, she has a number of papers on the educational domain, most of them on girls education.
At the symposium, Dr. Insaf delivered a speech highlighting the barriers to educating girls in Yemen. She said that Yemen’s constitution asserts the equality of opportunities amongst all citizens in education and social life. Law no.45 of 1992, article no.13 puts stress on applying principles of social justice. Still the question remains to what extent are those laws and enactment put into effect?
She added: ”After conducting the first field study on girls’ education, we could list reasons behind the low rate of enrolling girls in the educational institutions, some of which relate to the following:
A. The general status of girls’ education.
A father encourages his daughter to learn and educate, herself, but does not advise others to do so. We call this the positive negative position.
A father prevents his daughter from going to school and tries to spread the wrong idea that learning in school is forbidden in religion. We call this the negative negative position.
A father sends his own daughter to school. In addition, he contributes to increasing the awareness of others about the importance of teaching the girls. We call this the positive positive position, which is rare.
B: The economic situation.
Parents who have girls and boys and are unable to send them all to schools, give the priority to the boys to learn. In this case we do not blame them, for the reason is an economic one, in addition, girls usually are needed to work at home or in the fields. Don’t forget that girls have no chance in obtaining jobs equal to that of boys.
C: The educational system.
Educational institutions are unevenly spread in some areas, and this prevents girls from pursuing their studies. For example, a school for girls nearby the souq (traditional market), will tend to cause fathers to forbid their daughters from passing along the road in front of men in order to get to the school.
Sometimes, fathers are forced to prevent their daughters from going to coeducational schools.
Issues related to the teaching materials
A girl living in a rural area, sees no benefit in learning about Napoleon and his campaigns. Thus, she needs a curriculum linked to her environment.
Finally, the shortage in the number of teachers in the rural areas constitutes another problem in the educational process.
Dr. Insaf posed a relevant question: “Why not develop the scope of technical education since students worldwide prefer this system?”
So far, young women who finish their learning and get a bachelor’s degree have two choices, either staying at home without working or accepting jobs outside their spcializations.
Such obstacles are easily noticed in the rural areas whereas in cities the situation is much better.
Dr. Amat Al-razaq in her speech analyzed the process of developing the curricula in Yemen.
She began her speech by giving a definition of the curriculum. She said that the curricula are not just school books, but all experiences presented to the educator, i.e the school books prepared by the Ministry of Education in addition to what he or she acquires from mosques, public gatherings and clubs.
Concerning Yemen’s experiment with developing its curricula, Dr. Amat expounded, ” The beginning was based on incorrect premises , e.i., the curricula in Yemen were mostly Egyptian and talked about the Egyptian history more than it does about the Yemen’s history.
From the 70s till the 80s the process of restructuring the curricula was taken up, but not on a scientific basis as it should have been.
In the 90s, the curriculum was developed according to the international educational standards in corroboration with a Jordanian professional in addition to Yemeni counterparts.
The experiment was successful and tangible. One of its fruits was accompanying the curriculum teacher guides which facilitated the application of the innovation to some extent.
The second stage was in 1998 in which we benefited from the application of the previous curriculum.
However, the process of developing the curriculum is not blindly done. There are series of goals to get a sound learning foundation.
The Ministry of Education does not intend to develop the curricula only, but endeavors to revitalize the whole process of the educational system. For example, it works towards enhancing teacher’s competence and rehabilitating them too, adding a new vision to the curricula incorporating the universal issues like the environment and human rights.” Dr. Amat concluded.
Discussions among the participants were initiated by Mr. Mandoub who said that the non-spacious classrooms and the increasing number of students creates another problem for both the teacher and the student.
Dr. Hassan Al-Da’bi inquired ”What has occurred to the actual free education ?”
Mr. Yahya al-sakhi criticized the children’s TV programs as they give them lessons in love and romantic words unsuitable for their age.