Vocational Education: THE ROAD TO SUCCESS [Archives:1998/48/Focus]

November 30 1998

This is an OPINION page.
Every week, a different intellectual writes a FOCUS on a pertinent issue!

By: Jamil Al-Guwairy
Inspector of the English Language

Any nation is said to be well developed if the majority of its people are well-educated. A well respected nation is one which produces able and strong generations. Such a nation would often make the human factor its first priority and see it as the key factor in development and real progress. In other words, developing the mind – culturally, and technically is the key to success. This means education.
Having said that, one needs to enquire whether our educational system is a good one. This brings me to the sad conclusion I have reached – our educational system has failed. The basic reason is mismanagement and wrong policies over decades; thus, contributing to the lamentable condition of our educational system. Among the factors contributing to this failure are a defective curricula, large numbers of students per class, old-fashioned methods of teaching, lack of facilities and teaching aids, absence of creativity, lack of coordination and cooperation between parents and schools, a bad system of testing and evaluating, ineffective teacher training programs, the teachers’ harsh financial circumstances due to the low pay, etc., etc. All these factors have led to the deterioration of our educational system in such a way that our schools and colleges are producing illiterate people. Millions of pupils, students and graduates do not possess any employable knowledge or skills.
Are the key men of this country aware of their future? Are there any solutions?
Did someone ask about solutions. Of course, there are solutions, and first and foremost among these is technical education.
Long ago, I wished to see the day when technical education was given first priority in our country. Maybe I will not have to wait much longer.
A republican decree set up the General Authority for Vocational and Technical Training (GAVTT), which ushered in a new era for development and hope. It is only technical and vocational education that can help bring real development to Yemen. Through technical education, we can bring in overall progress as it is closely associated with development and construction. We can make good use of our youngsters’ potential.
To support my point, let me give an example. Countries in south east Asia and Europe have achieved great progress in science and technology due to the direction they have taken – making technical/vocational education a priority.
Even the rich countries of the Gulf have remarkably mobilized resources to build technical institutes and vocational training centers. They have built facilities of all kinds.
It is high time for Yemen to think about this issue and use common sense in our orientation. Many a number of government and private companies are dependent on foreign manpower to whom lots of money is paid. Why?! They have skills!
The point is we lack Yemeni technicians and assistants to do the work or we do not trust their performance.
We are in bad need of skilled craftsmen and technicians in all fields. We do not need those idle graduates who have nothing to do but come to their offices, stay for some time and leave. This country does not need more bureaucrats. Hence, I call upon all youngsters to enroll in technical and industrial institutes rather than general schools. What is the use of having thousands of graduates who cannot find jobs?
Our children should be directed in the right way. Helping our children join technical and craft schools calls for considerable efforts. How? With good training, support and motivation, we will be able to produce skilled craftsmen and qualified technicians in all fields. Thus, companies will trust their performance and seek to employ them. This way, our hopes and expectations will be attained.
Who should take charge?
As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. The government represented by the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training and GAVTT should play a positive role in creating the facilities required. The private sector should also play a role by providing support to all technical and vocational centers. It must also give indications regarding market needs.
Therefore, the two parties should join hands and take charge. Students will definitely flock to join technical and vocational centers, as long as they are sure of getting employment after graduation. In my mind, that is the way to do it!