Truancy of Yemeni Students: A Problem to Be Solved.. [Archives:1999/47/Culture]

November 22 1999

Nasser Ali Al-Taweeli 
Children who are under fourteen years of age often frequent electronic clubs and other entertainment places during school. This phenomenon negatively affects the learning and moral levels of the student. In addition to this, a student focuses on playing instead of studying. Yemen Times has conducted the following interviews with a number of students, parents and officials from the Ministry of Education in order to diagnose the causes of this problem and to find appropriate solutions for it. 
Mohanad Al-Borati, third secondary school: 
“I go to those clubs because when I am late to school I find the gate of the school closed. Then I go to any neighboring club to spend my time. Frankly, I go with many friends to stand in front of girls’ schools.” 
Bashier Ahmed Mohammed, third grade secondary school: 
“In fact I hate the name of school for many reasons such as closing the gate for any simple reason. This forces us students to go to clubs to play, drink soft drinks, or to watch films on television until the end of the school day. We do all of these to avoid problems with our families. So, if we receive fair treatment from the school administration, if they understand our cases, and if they never use violence against us we will not do all of this.” 
Bassam Al-Ashwal, 
“I was suspended by the school administration for two weeks because my father did not come to the school. This made me hate school, and if I tell my father about the problem which happened to me at school he will be angry with me and he may drive me away from home. So, I try to enjoy myself by going here and there away from home and school.”
Shawqi Salah’edden, first grade secondary school: 
“In fact neither my father nor my mother gives me money. My father goes with his friends to chew qat from afternoon up to the evening, and my mother does housework and goes to her friends to what we call in the Yemeni dialect a “Tafritah.” I go with my friends because they give money to me. I spend my time like this every day.”Moadh  
Al-Qobati, fifth class primary school: 
“My father treats me harshly. He kicked me out of the house and let me sleep out of the house. In this case, I do not find any place except the club to entertain myself. When I play such a game, I like that play.” 
The following interviews are with some students’ parents who gave the following reasons: 
Mohammed’s mother: 
“I am very busy with housework, and I do not have time to follow my children’s affairs or to know where they go. They go to school every day and return on time. I think that school is responsible to notify us about anything which may be done by our children.” 
Abdulrahman Ali Al-Manooz: 
“As a proverb says: ‘A man is known by the company he keeps,’ so the bad friends take our boys to these places, and I think that this happens because of the negligence of the family. Hence, the responsibility falls on the family and on the school, because they must keep in touch with each other, and for having the nearby entertainment centers closed during school time. There are few students who wear the school uniform, and they put their bags at those places.” 
Mana’a Manea Al-Omaithaly: 
“The phenomenon of students’ truancy has started since permission has been given to the neighboring trade centers to open close to schools without taking strict measures to prevent students from frequenting them. This phenomenon harms the behavior of the students because at such places students conduct themselves in a negative way. Regarding the influence of this on their educational level, there is no doubt that the students waste their time by going to such places to play. In this case the students hate learning, and they will not stay at school or listen to lectures.” 
Responsibility for this problem can be ascribed to: 
1 – Family: The family does not follow up their children and never keeps in touch with the school. 
2 – Poverty: The lack of alternative entertainment tempts students to go to these places, and they are encouraged to do so by their wealthier classmates. 
3 – Crowded classrooms: Large classes is one of the challenges which weakens the work of teachers. In addition to this, the teachers have a lot of problems which make them neglect guiding their students. Most of the teachers lack any experience in tackling the students’ problems. 
4 – The teachers and school administration do not pay enough attention to these problems. 
5 – Some of the schools do not follow up students’ affairs, and they do not inform their families about repeated truancies. 
6 – Schools do not carry out the instructions of the Ministry of Education to keep the school gates open. 
Solutions of this problem can be summarized by the following points: 
1 – Schools have to provide food requirements for students during the breaks at competitive prices. 
2 – Taking disciplinary actions against those who come late instead of shutting gates at the beginning of school. 
3 – Students should not be allowed to go out from school during school time. 
4 – The family and the school should keep in touch with each other in order to discuss students’ problems. 
5 – Schools should pay attention to solve the psychological problems of the students, and they should treat students kindly. 
Yahya Hamoud Al-Makhedi, General Manager of the educational department in the Ministry of Education Office in Sana’a: 
In fact the truancy of the students is attributed to many reasons: 
1 – Absence of control by the family and school, and the weakness of the administration and its lacking of an understanding of its educational responsibility towards students. 
2 – Absence of activities at schools, and the lack of capabilities which may play important roles in the educational process. 
3 – Maybe there are some problems in the family which affect students psychologically and students are unable to find solutions to these problems from the specialists at school. 
In fact this phenomenon will affect the educational level of students which can lead to bad results in the future. The responsibility is shared by family, school, society and information media. 
As I mentioned before the solution of these problems is: 
1 – The school administration must play important roles in the lives of these students. 
2 – Providing different activities at schools, and providing all required conditions so that teachers can perform their required educational roles, as well as activating their roles to follow up and assess their students. Research should also be conducted for finding additional possible solutions in coordination with the school administration and the family as well as other concerned parties. 
3 – Information technology should play an important role in awakening the family and society to their duties towards students and to drawing up an information policy which is aimed at developing the skills of the students.