Who educates who? [Archives:2006/1009/Opinion]

December 21 2006

By: Dr. Samia Al-Aghbari
Recently there has been much talk about education at all its different stages beginning from illiteracy eradication and adult education and ending with university education and higher studies. All seem to be interested, specialized and non-specialized in education, to have their say in this regard.

Different ideas that have pivoted around the problems facing education, especially the university one regarding curricula in that of being outdated and their incompatibility with the present age and requirements of labor market. In addition, many university professors have limited experience and scientific and cultural capabilities. Also, university professors suffer from many administrative and financial problems impeding their scientific and practical progress. No one has given attention or discussed what problems face education is in general. The problem is a fundamental query which is who educates who? In other words, if many of those who are in charge of the entire education process do not know or understand anything about education and are in need of re-education and need knowledge on methods of teaching. For instance a teacher at university teaches Arabic language to university students while his spelling is weak and he does not master Arabic, in addition to his shallow culture and sometimes one would find out that the students are more capable in culture and understanding than the teacher himself. In consequence, how can a teacher of this type develop curricula of university education and proceed with educational process to the better?

I am of the opinion that to develop the education and put it at an advanced level we are in dire need of completely reconsidering how to choose teachers for the various stages of education, starting from the basic stage. The starting point would be putting certain conditions for accepting students to enroll in institutes and colleges for training teachers. We have also to define conditions and criteria for students studying in higher studies.

Here emerges another problem with regard to the way of deciding criteria and conditions of admission to colleges of education and teacher training institutes and of the side that determines criteria and conditions, or mediation and nepotism will define the admission conditions. Throughout years since the establishment of teacher training institutes and colleges of education it has been noted that admission to them is not subject to strict criteria and conditions. Moreover the students who proved their failure in study and got low grades were transferred to colleges of education.

Consequently the college of education has become a product of ignorance. In order not to do injustice to teachers we will find that some of them joined the college of education out of desire and full conviction and possess inborn and acquired willingness for teaching and in possession of deep general culture. Those distinguished and efficient teachers have been facing fierce war in the practical field. They fight for committing any guilt but they represent an honorable example of the teacher who possesses thorough knowledge and deep culture, not only in the subjects they teach but rather in all walks of life, whether in politics, or economic or society. We can see this example of teachers much concerned with affairs of his country and tries to plant in the souls of his students the love for knowledge that does not stop at certain limit as well as the spirit of affiliation to the homeland and principles and goals of the Yemeni revolution.

Some of those real teachers have been relieved of service and some have died and others have been left in difficult financial circumstances with no one paying them attention.

With the increase in the number of teachers who joined the teaching career without having accurately checked with regard to their scientific standards and efficiency the efficient teachers got lost in amidst this accumulation of unqualified teachers who do not possess anything mentionable of science and knowledge.

Therefore the development of education necessitates dependence on international experts and specialized advisors, especially UNESCO, to assess the teaching programs first and the teachers next.

Dr. Samia Al-Aghbari is an active female Yemeni journalist working in Al-Sahwa newspaper and contributes to other media

Source: Al-Thwart Newspaper