The reality of education, authority and opposition stances [Archives:2007/1013/Opinion]

January 4 2007

Abdullah Muslih
Education in Yemen is supererogatory among interests of the regime and society too. Despite verbal recognition regarding its importance and necessity, education is lowest on the scale of priorities as we actually place it last.

Education comes after politics, the army, the economy, etc., as a cut supplement or an uncompleted addition and we do this without comprehending that education is the key to all of those fields. Ignorant politics is like cutting firewood at night, an illiterate economy is like fortunetelling and an ignorant army actually is a recipe for collective suicide. As long as we place education at the lower scale of fields, we'll remain behind other nations.

The authority considers education a heavy burden upon its shoulders, while the opposition views such educational shortcomings and failures as rich material for criticism. The media deal with the education issue as a teacher deals with the seventh hour of his work, parents use the education card as a fig leaf to cover their parental defects and students swear that the classroom is the first step in organized ignorance.

Education is a social issue all must consider, beginning with the authority, represented by the Ministry of Education, through to the opposition with its educational offices and ending with education unions.

In considering the Ministry of Education's efforts, we can see schools spread throughout Yemen's governorates and districts, but not all over villages, as officially claimed. Despite millions of dollars and billions of riyals, such schools remain insufficient and unable to accommodate the masses of students.

Yemeni schools also suffer numerous deficiencies at the human and material levels, including deep shortages in practical education supplies because there are unsuitable buildings or classrooms to contain the number of students, rare curricula similar to rarity of historical manuscripts, and insufficient and unqualified teachers and headmasters.

In addition to unused laboratories – even in the memories of science teachers – some complain about such laboratories' non-existence, while others complain about inability to deal with existing instruments and gases, which have become puzzles for them. Most 'fortunate' school laboratories contain nothing but tiles and water taps.

Added to this are non-existent libraries, technological means and computer workshops, not to mention social experts, playgrounds, medical clinics, sports fields and the internet. So many requirements remain as dreams listed in anticipated education plans for 2020.

Students enrolled in colleges of education are those who received low grades in secondary school; thus, their outputs undoubtedly and mostly are lower than the minimum efficiency and the love of a profession they've chosen without any desire. If a teacher is cross-eyed, he'll surely produce blind pupils, especially given the lack of qualifying and training courses, despite numerous statements, agreements and conferences of so-called joint cooperation with several countries.

Since its establishment, the Ministry of Education has been unable to commit itself to the school calendar it prepares; thus, it changes it more than four times a year due to national holidays and those regarding political and religious occasions. That's the role of the Ministry of Education run by the ruling party.

As for opposition parties' role in education, it's even feebler than the authority's strand. If the authority possesses only a thin strand, then the opposition possesses imaginary strands in this regard. For example, education offices don't exist in 99 percent of such opposition parties.

In the best instance, the education issue will be locked in the drawers of those parties with individual visions and electoral programs simply for propaganda and not released until such parties come to power under the pretext that education office tasks aren't implementable without possessing the means of authority.

Some claim that the common denominator between educational leadership and opposition leadership is investing in private education and that the two parties have struck an economic deal.