The Dilemma of The Yemeni Youth [Archives:1999/33/Focus]

August 16 1999

By: Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi, 
Managing Editor, Yemen Times 
The youth are actually the soul of any nation and the power-house of its energy that makes it evolve and grow progressively. In fact, youngsters are an important group of the society since they are viewed as the future-builders and a dormant source of prosperity for their nations. On this factual basis, they are given top priority and full concern by the people in authority. 
Holding the First Forum on Arab Youth in Sanaa during the period 1-4 August is actually a good pointer of the rising awareness of Arab countries towards the inevitability of youngsters and the importance of discussing their problems and pitfalls. The forum also indicated that there is a common understanding amongst Arabs of the vitality of discussing the problems faced by the Arab youth, particularly in view of the fact that the majority of the Arab population is youngsters. 
Let me here visualize some of the problems the Yemeni youngsters are troubled with. 
First, joblessness is the major headache of the Yemeni youth. Most of our university graduates are unemployed even though they are well qualified and had studied in well-esteemed Arab and non-Arab universities. The students have even qualifications that the country needs badly. We have all heard about the demonstrations of the graduates of the Faculty of Petroleum who were denied jobs by the Ministry of Industry. Instead, they were sent to teach in some schools. What a pity! They taught for one year and then they wanted to get employed in the Ministry of Industry since it fits their qualifications and study. Yet, they were refused. I don’t know why? Does it mean that the Ministry can not employ even these students of rare qualifications. 
I don’t think that our country, which is developing and new in the field of petroleum exploration, doesn’t need such graduates. However, the country spent much money on getting them qualified. 
Let me elaborate the dilemma of the Yemeni youth. In Yemen, most of the employees registered in the government payrolls are old or even phantom workers. This is why the government feels overburdened with employees who actually do not exist or produce anything valuable for the country. Therefore, when fresh qualified graduates ask for employment, they find all the doors shut. 
Another plight of the Yemeni youth is that some employed people refuse to leave their offices even if they are old enough to get retired. However, they sometimes leave it but, they get their sons in their position as if the government post is something to be inherited. This is why we see some people stuck to their offices for over than two or three decades. One might not believe it but it is actually the truth. Even military officers when they die of get retired, they get their posts and ranks transferred to their sons. Something funny, isn’t it? 
Therefore, the sons of dignitaries and influential figures in the society find it very easy for them to get employed, no matter whether they are qualified or not. It is only commoners to suffer in this country. I will tell you a story that happened to me two weeks ago. Once I entered a restaurant in the Capital Sanaa for dinner. I was staggeringly shocked to see a graduate of the English Department and one of the bright students of his batch wearing a suit of a waiter. I couldn’t believe that. I rubbed my eyes a little to make sure whether I was not mistaken. To my surprise, he came closer and said in English “hello Mr. Mohammed.” I felt very very sad and gloomy to find him offering his service. He told me that he got the second place among his fellow students but the Ministry of Education could not employ them despite that they are graduates of the Faculty of Education. “Don’t get staggered or surprised. This fellow, pointing at his friend, is a graduate of the Department of Geology”. he noted sardonically. The schools are lacking teachers of English. The Yemeni graduates are there. We prefer non-Yemenis. Why? Of course, they are not a square peg in around hole. It is something very confusing, isn’t it? I don’t actually look down upon the waiters and belittle their job. Rather, I want to say that these graduates should be better placed somewhere else where they can show their merits. 
The predicament is that the Ministry of Education is overloaded with many Arab teachers who can easily be replaced by Yemenis. But I wonder why the Ministry continues renewing their contracts and pay them in dollar? It is something very confusing. The schools are lacking teachers of English. Is there something fishy behind? 
The government announced that the year 1999 would be the Year of the Youth in Yemen. Everybody expected wanders to take place to set the Yemeni youth on the lap of luxury. But nothing visible took place. Therefore, I want to point out that the best way of protecting our youngsters from violence, sexual diseases, drugs- ,topics which were highlighted in the First Forum on the Arab Youth, is to provide them with employment. In other words, there must be a one-one correspondence between the development and the products of the university education. Otherwise, they will fall victims to all bad habits and evils. Will we stop a situation before the genie gets out of the bottle? Will the Forum yield tangible fruits for a better future for the Arab youth? I wish so!