Tips on Better Education [Archives:1998/29/Focus]

July 20 1998

Martin Dansky,
Yemen Times
This is the final week for me in Yemen after a year’s teaching and proof-reading for this newspaper. My work here started on the basis that I do corrections at the paper which supplemented my income as an ‘international’ teacher and university lecturer. What are my opinions of the country I have lived in as a Canadian national? My views are mostly shaped on the private educational system for high school and university students and I see the country is benefiting from this process. As far as complete modernization of the educational system is concerned, it will take time for the country to fully develop and this does not necessarily mean becoming another Dubai; Yemen has a much larger population the northern part of which did not, until recently become involved with foreign influence. The country has to continue to build confidence abroad if it wants foreign teachers to come and there has to be assurances as to their safety especially in areas where there is tribal unrest.
Problems in the country could be cited as before but it would be more profitable to discuss solutions. Allowing Yemenis to study abroad with the intent to return and bring new ideas to promote development is a key. Students here are becoming more educated; and private universities are especially more prepared to meet the demands of the young high school graduates but the educational process has to evolve further. Schools should continue their struggle to gain accreditation with foreign institutions, contracts should be respected so that the teacher will return, study grants could be offered by the government as well as interested foreign governments to show its commitment in keeping their talented young from emigrating towards better opportunities.
The trend for the future is that many more schools will pop up, some looking for a quick profit, some pseudo-international and others more serious. The Yemeni will be caught in between, deciding which one will lead to better opportunities. The student should do research on that high school before applying to make sure that there is quality teaching for one and that he’ll have the chance to be prepared for college entrance examinations. He should examine the course syllabus beforehand to make sure what the school will teach. Parents should inquire about the turn over of teachers and staff, a high turn-over means a change in teaching methods and could affect student performance. He should even inquire about school wages; a better paid teacher is more likely to stay on. School grounds should be checked so that the child knows for example that there are computer laboratory facilities.
Students should see what the school library has; a shortage of texts here might mean he’ll have to settle for photocopy versions. There should be a choice of educational material which matches the level the student is required to reach. In some cases higher institutions will risk losing enrollments if they don’t keep certain texts and avoid stocking others. There should also be proper emergency equipment to fight potential fires.
Students and teachers alike want to see their country progress towards change and this should mean taking the best advice from educational institutions in advanced countries so that confidence can be maintained in the teaching process and the country will not have to worry about brain drain that have afflicted their more affluent cousins. But as economies grow, they also deteriorate in time, until economic recovery is accomplished and this will also affect the educational institution whether here or elsewhere.