The evolving scenario of educationcolleges in Yemen [Archives:2004/796/Education]

December 6 2004

College of Education,
Ibb University

We are at the beginning of the 21st century. In the fitness of things serious thoughts and discussions are being devoted to the role of colleges of education in preparing skilful teachers who will cope with the challenges of the 21st century and equip the learners with necessary skills and information so that they can compete with others in the work market. Since education is a process of strengthening human resource, its quality assumes special significance within the larger framework of personal and social development. Yemen has to commit itself to improve the quality of education in the new millennium. Education on which human progress is based to such a large extent is naturally being given the main thrust. In the dynamic modern world, characterized by rapid transformation in all aspects of society this is a must.
In any society education has a direct impact on the social, economic, and political systems. The twenty first century is a century of technocracy .It will not be the resources alone but the development of newer efficient technologies which will transform the nations. This is equally applicable to the teaching technology including teacher training. Therefore, the teacher training programs have to be under continuous scrutiny to bring out a program which can respond to the demands of the 21st century. Today's program planners should study conditions and trends in the contemporary society and sensitize themselves about the requirements of life in the 21st century.
It is a truism that the quality of school education is the direct consequence or outcome of the quality of teachers. Education for the future is useless unless it equips students to meet new challenges that neither they nor anyone else ever faced before. Hence, professionals in education need the vision of tomorrow when programs are planned. In encountering the future, we have to discover appropriate teaching methods to teach our student community strategies of innovation, problem solving, a love for learning, creativity and human values. Students have to acquire the techniques of scientific analysis, expression, and understanding as well. We must prepare students for the kind of work that constitutes a new paradigm. In order to do so, students' admission in colleges of education in Yemen, should be based on strictly scientific criteria, which have to be designed by specialists.

Admission of students
At present, students are admitted in the colleges of education without any relevant consideration pertinent to the teaching profession. Hence, the graduates of these colleges cannot prepare the future generations of students who will live a life full of conflicts and challenges. The students enter the colleges of education because they:
i. get low percentage of marks at General Secondary Examination;
ii. find it easy to get admission into these colleges;
iii. realize that they cannot find jobs in other fields except taking up teaching as a career.

Thus, most students who study in colleges of education select their specialization without any specific purpose. As there are no criteria followed in selecting candidates for colleges in Yemen, after graduation the teachers join the bandwagon of teaching without any serious commitment. This leads to frustration in them, and this frustration affects achievement of students. Willy and Maddison (1971) make a pertinent observation in this context: 'Sending into schools unsuitable persons, badly trained can be as harmful to school children as shortage of teachers.' This means, graduates from these colleges are not suitable to prepare new generations who can cope up with the demands of the 21st century, dominated by globalization. This implies adapting education to the rapid changes that will affect local environment and international domains, resulting in inevitable tensions between tradition and modernity, competition and equality of opportunity, aspirations and reality , the unlimited expansion of knowledge and the limited capacity of human beings to assimilate it , local needs and interests and global considerations.
But when we see the graduates of Yemeni colleges of education, we find they do not provide opportunities for development of the learners. So the admission procedures in colleges of education, as well as the teacher preparation programs should undergo drastic revision incorporating those human and intellectual qualities that will necessitate a fresh approach to teaching1 because our aim should be preparing the teachers who can achieve excellence.
An excellent teacher constitutes a major spring-board in the teaching process. He can make the learning process very smooth and effective for the students, if the facilities are available and the environment is conducive. If teaching is to be effective and meaningful , if it is to prepare young generation for the next century, if it is to prepare good citizens and nation of progress, it is inevitable that students who wish to join teaching profession must have quality, positive attitude and proper aptitude.

Characteristics of an excellent teacher
Any profession demands certain qualities from those who choose the profession. It makes the professional effective and respectable. An excellent teacher has to:
1. have a relentless effort to improve oneself so as to become a useful member of the community;
2. study and identify the needs of the community;
3. participate in construction of the school curriculum.
4. develop specific abilities – skills and understanding in order to be able to contribute effectively to the most pressing problems of society , such as educational advancement ,economic development and environment pollution and so on;
5. heartily accept of teaching not as a profession but as a mission;
6. demonstrate devotion to his profession;
7. cultivate self-learning and studious habits;
8. develop effective communication skills and clarity in expression;
9. choose appropriate words to make explanation attractive, impressive and easy to understand;2
10. select and use appropriate teaching methods;
11. select and use suitable teaching audio-visual aids;
12. mange the classroom and make it activity oriented;3
13. generate self – confidence;
14. build up of a self image as a successful teacher;
15. develop a healthy body and mind;
16. promote qualities of tolerance and open-mindedness;
17. reflect creativity in teaching;
18. adopt latest teaching methods , teaching aids and information technology etc.;4
19. make his students feel that he is their father, friend, guide, and a good model of behavior.

A teacher must make self introspection and evaluate his / her performance in the light of the above.

Need of the hour: Excellent teacher training program modules
It has been mentioned earlier that teacher training program should be revised to cope with the 21st century changes and challenges. The teacher training programs should be re-constructed and re-designed taking into account the students' needs , interests , country's demands, the changes that are taking place in the technology and the major specialization fields including the current political scenario, state of the economy, management situation, and such other emerging fields like marketing, bio-technology and so on.
The process of globalization requires sound programs that provide trainees with various skills and information about the latest advances in the teaching technology. The learning situation becomes difficult when there are learners of all ages, with different backgrounds and experiences as one finds in Yemen's schools and colleges .So, the program should shift from a college centered model to a learner- centered model based on learner initiative and access to learning resources.
With the fast changing developments in communication technology, distance education has emerged as an effective instrument for imparting knowledge. These and such developments have to be kept in view while formulating programs for colleges of education in Yemen. Developed programs have to evolve on the basis of continual evaluation and revamping till it keeps pace with emerging trends in educational situation and social requirements. The program should strengthen the knowledge base and required skills of the trainees. The boundaries of the program framework should be defined in the light of general objectives of teacher training, concerns and issues of school education and teacher preparation and perceived profile of teachers.
In short, we are inescapably exposed to the global changes. The changes are not only fast but also frequent. So, this requires a radical change in the teaching -learning process. Education is becoming a lifelong process and will be linked with living and working styles more than in the previous era. In the recent UNESCO report, four significant components of education are identified such as: i) Learning to know; ii) Learning to do; iii) Learning to live together; and iv ) Learning to be. Also, the future networked system would need various courses with more flexibility and modularity, each module catering to the various competencies and skills needed by the learner. The teacher will have to respond to such demands, in the near future. These requirements need excellent teachers who can play a wide spectrum of roles in the educational scenario. They should be able to provide the learners with various information, skills and excellent role models according to the target objectives and Islamic Instructions. They should not be blindly affected by globalization. Rather they should scrutinize any information coming in the name of globalization critically. At the same time, they should absorb the modern technology and the most advanced information which would help in the all round development of the country.

1- Dandekar, W. N., Evaluation In Schools, Poona, Vidya Prakashan, 1971, PP. 77-81.
2- Nunan. David, Designing Tasks for the Communicative Classroom, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991, PP, 84-85.
3- Nunan. David, Syllabus Design, Oxford, Oxford University Press, PP. 7-9.
4- Nunan. David, The Learner- Centered Curriculum, Cambridge , Cambridge University Press , 1987, PP. 21- 28.