YALI students protest new Adminstration [Archives:2007/1041/Local News]

April 12 2007

By: Fatima Al-Ajel
SANA'A, April 11 ) As many as 3,600 students from the Yemen American Language Institute began striking from classes as of Saturday and continuing through Wednesday in protest against transferring the institute's management to AMIDEAST. They demand YALI remain under administration of the U.S. Embassy's cultural attache.

The angry students accused AMIDEAST of drafting new laws to deteriorate students' progress and weaken the educational process, which has been consolidated by the former administration (the U.S. Embassy) over the past time period.

The students released a statement to the Democracy School (NGO), the National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms (also known as HOOD), the U.S embassy, the Yemen Times and other organizations, alleging that they will suffer the consequences of such new legislation because their progress will be poor. They added that the new legislation will affect YALI's good reputation, as well as its graduates.

However, Course Director Janice Luce stressed in her Oct. 1, 2006 message that the administrative changes won't affect the quality of instruction at YALI, noting that its outstanding teachers and administrative staff will continue to be able to assist students.

According to announcements regarding new AMIDEAST policies for term 100, new students will be reassigned to a level during the first week of classes, but returning students will not.

Additionally, a revised grading system will allow a maximum of three chances. If a student doesn't pass the third time, he or she won't be readmitted to study at AMIDEAST-YALI. Regarding attendance, half a point will be deducted for every excused absence, as well as every incidence of tardiness, no matter how late the student arrives to class.

Several YALI teachers and students mentioned the implementation of a new AMIDEAST system for teachers' positions and a process of raising the fees for courses at AMIDEAST-YALI to equal those at AMIDEAST. Additionally, teachers' salaries at AMIDEAST-YALI will be decreased so they are equal with those of AMIDEAST teachers.

Alham Fathal, coordinator of AMIDEAST programs and the academic responsible at AMIDEAST, stated that AMIDEAST-Yemen is awaiting the results of a Wednesday meeting at AMIDEAST's Washington, D.C. headquarters to discuss the YALI matter. The results of the meeting will be published in a press release to all mass media.

Chief of the YALI Teachers Union Abdo Al-Rab Nasser noted that teachers will go to the labor union on Thursday to explain their demands and form a new YALI labor union via election.

The U.S. Embassy hosted a meeting on Tuesday, but the results were disappointing, especially for teachers, as their requests were rejected. Therefore, the current YALI system will remain in effect for six months, after which the new system will be implemented.

The Yemen Times contacted the U.S. Embassy, as well as YALI and AMIDEAST administrations to learn the latest news about the situation at the institute; however, most administrative members were meeting to solve the problem and are awaiting the result of the AMIDEAST meeting in Washington, D.C.

Since its establishment in 1975, the U.S. Embassy's cultural attache has operated YALI until the end of 2006, when AMIDEAST assumed responsibility for administering the institute. The embassy's cultural attache previously provide free scholarships for several governmental organizations and NGOs, thereby earning it respect, popularity and a good reputation in Yemen.