The Business of Education [Archives:2007/1099/Business & Economy]

November 1 2007

By: Yemen Times Staff
Emphasis on education emerges as a must for any nation's development, was it primary and secondary education or higher education, or even vocational training and value-addition training courses in special skills. This report explains the background of the education sector as well as the role of training institutions in training the labor force with skills that are required in the job market.

Realities of Education:

Almost half of the Yemeni adult population are illiterate, with a significant literacy gap between males and females, illiteracy remains the prime educational challenge that faces Yemen, however, the Yemeni government and in cooperation with international donors and civil society has successfully embarked on an illiteracy eradication program in 2000, were 66 thousand adult learners participated. In 2005, over 171 adult learners participated in the programs while demand continues to be on the rise. However the main problem remains with having a significant number of children out of school due to socio-economic, cultural, and accessibility issues to learning centers.

While there are around 15 thousand primary education schools in Yemen, the contrasts between the number of students enrolling in primary education and secondary education is huge, in the academic year 2005/06 there were around four million students studying in primary education grades, but that number drops to just above six hundred thousand in secondary education.

There are around 20 thousand students enrolled in over 300 vocational training and poly technique institutions in the country, this number seems in significant compared to the 170 thousand students enrolled in the nine main universities in Yemen.

Privet Sector Education:

The privet sector offers educational courses parallel to the government's educational facilities at all levels with the exception of illiteracy eradication. The privet sector involvement starts at the Pre-school level, where 178 kindergartens out of the total 244 are owned and managed by the privet sector, providing education to 7.8 thousand pupils, while the other 66 government kindergartens provide pre-school education to around ten thousand pupils.

Additionally, there are 260 privet sector primary and secondary education schools, educating around 43 thousand students per year, but these schools are concentrated mainly in urban centers. While the number of students enrolled in privet sector universities reach ten thousand students.

The Trends in Education:

We can see that there is a fundamental difference in the education being offered between rural and urban Yemen, due to the involvement of the privet sector. In the pre-school level, the privet sector takes the lead due to the insufficient supply of kindergartens operated by the ministry of education, more specifically since there is a culture of change where working mothers are becoming increasingly more acceptable, the need for quality pre-schools to care for children becomes more demanding. Similarly, there is such a need for quality primary and secondary education, however, this sector is still by far dominated by the government, although one can see a resurgence and increase in the number of privet sector schools which offer quality education as well as teaching more advanced schooling curricula compared to the standard curricula developed by the government. These curricula include the IGCSE which is internationally recognized therefore many well-educated parents in urban centers opt for enrolling their children in privet sector schools.

Privet Universities and institutes are also increasing in popularity, there are around ten thousand students enrolled in ten privet sector universities and training institutions, students opt to privet sector universities when they are not admitted into government universities or believe that this privet sector university offers more quality education compared to public universities.

Training Centers

Considering the large number of students studying throughout the education tree in Yemen, once these students graduate there is a serious competition for jobs in the job market, there are around 100 thousand graduate students who have applied for government jobs and are waiting in the queue, while competing for jobs in the privet sector is tense and only those with qualifications that stand out are lucky enough to get jobs. This is where training centers come into play.

Although there were no statistics on the number of students enrolled in privet sector training centers, there are slightly under three thousand training centers offering short to medium term courses as well as diplomas. However the majority of these centers offer language education (English language) as well as teaching computer literacy skills to students, such courses are positioned in such away to resemble an added advantage for students who complete such courses, and thereafter have better luck in the job market.

The range of classes include language training, computer software and hardware classes, managerial soft skills, accounting, office management, as well as specialized skills such as tourism training, technical trouble-shooting, website and graphic designing among others.

A survey of Opinions

This survey will focus on the role training centers play in qualifying graduates for the job market. Dr. Waheeb Noman, director of a language institute in Sana'a, said that the outcomes of our current educational system are poor, referring to the quality of education in government schools and universities, he added that he is disappointed with high school graduates who are unable to write a sentence in English or commerce graduates who do not know the basics of accounting, ” there is a dire need for training institutes to rehabilitate graduates to meet the expectations of the job market” he said.

Apart from that, University lecturer Mazen A., Stated that many students pass through the university years indifferent whether they learn anything at all or not, he said that many students just aim for the passing grade and do not have a genuine interest in education, there is a lot of self-learning that university students must go through, this is why you find considerable gap between a hardworking and qualified student competing with a less qualified student and both have finished the same course and hold the same qualification.

Student Asma Abdullah, studying a diploma in Office Management, said that she is an English language graduate from the faculty of languages in Sana'a University, but she could not find a job after graduating, so she joined a training institute which promised to help find her a job placement upon completion of the diploma, adding that the employment officer at the institute promised that with her new qualification she would be able to land a job far easier than with her degree alone.

Essam Ayman, a languages student, stated that he has been studying the English language for over a year now in a training center, hoping that this training would synergize with his commerce degree in finding a job, he also said: “I am thinking of taking computer and Microsoft Office classes too, as many of my peers are now doing the same thing and I should catch up if I am to compete with them in the job market”.

Fahid Abdulghani said: “I dropped out from the second year in university because I have met graduates who have graduates two years ago and still unable to find a job, the value of this university degree seems to be useless, then I joined an advanced computer training institute to obtain an advanced diploma in Information Technology, I think this diploma would be far more valuable than the university degree”.

Sami Abdullah, manager of a trading company, said that the important factor in any applicant is to have the skills which match the vacancy, I don't care about papers [referring to certificates] they have become valueless and any one can obtain these, I want to see that the candidates exhibit knowledge and have leadership traits which are required to do the job right.

While Fadiya S., Human Resources officer at a reputable services company stated that it is important for candidates to have all-rounded qualifications that have become the standard, that include Computer and IT skills, Internet skills, language skills, and soft management skills in addition to their specialized qualification. Such candidates are rare and very required in the job market.

In conclusion, Yemen's educational realities mean that one must struggle in order to maximize their learning objectives, as well as obtain additional training in order to ensure that they are valued enough in the job market in order to find a good job.