Yemen Times Listens to the Complaints and Problems of University Students: “Please, Pay us More Attention!” [Archives:1999/43/Reportage]

October 25 1999

Jamal Al-Awadhi
Yemen Times

Many are the problems and obstacles that await the university students during their journey through their academic career. The problems occur even in the very beginning of their joining the university, let alone what is awaiting them after graduation when they leave no stone unturned in order to get “any” job that will enable them to earn their living. These problems even help widening the gap between them and their teachers on one level, and between them and the administrative members on another. The Yemen Times met with some students to know from close quarters the difficulties they face, as well as their ambitions, so that the people in charge may sympathize with them.
Hussain Omar Al-Zahir, Faculty of Medicine.
The problems the university students face are more after graduation than during the student years. We have a six-month probation period but we know nothing about the time when it will begin nor do we know how we will be allotted. Moreover, the graduate have to wait a long time to get his graduation documents. I know some students from the Faculty of Science who have been trying to get their graduation certificates for three months. Sometimes you need even more than three months. I am worried about this matter, because I am planning to complete my studies abroad after the probation period. If getting my graduation certificate takes more than six months, I will lose my scholarship. I hope that the Students Affairs Administration makes it easy for all graduates to get their certificates and the related documents on time.
Another problem is the difficulties new students face when joining the university. For example, When I first came to Sana’a University they refused to accept me because of a small line on my Saudi secondary certificate. The problems increased as we moved from one level to another. The main problem for us, as students of medicine, is the lack and the unavailability of medical resources and chemical substances needed to carry out experiments or medical check ups. What is available, is thousands of handouts which are replacing books and resources in our universities!
Adel Al-Obahi, Faculty of Commerce
When the student first joins the university, he is full of hopes and ambitions for a bright future. These hopes vanish gradually as he begins to face the usual difficulties in finding the necessary resources which are replaced by many handouts of unrelated subjects and other problems. Sometimes the teachers are changed and replaced by new ones who immediately ignore the handouts issued by the previous ones. This, of course, costs us a lot of money and there are some students who are unable to afford for buying heaps of handouts. We hope that a clear and fixed curriculum will be chosen to be taught, instead of the randomly chosen handouts.
On another level, I wonder where the money taken from the students every year as fees for sport and cultural activities go.
Bassam Ahmad, Faculty of Science
The absence of books and resources is the chief problem for us. The handouts available do not fit the bill because what they tell is not as what the specialized books and resources could give us. Another problem is what we face after our graduation when we find all the doors banged on our faces.
Fathi Abdulla Shanoun, University graduate
I graduated from the Faculty of Science in 1996. I suffered a lot during my student years, mainly from the many handouts which served nothing but materialistic purposes. I know no reason for the unavailability of a specific curriculum to be taught at the university. The universities take a lot of money from the students as fees for sport and cultural activities, which is a big lie because nothing of this is seen in reality. I wonder why these fees are not used to make available the essential books and resources.
Dr. Ismail Masoud Naji
Chairman of English Department
Faculty of Education
We have been trying for a long time to solve the problem of handouts and at the same time specifying a clear curriculum for the students. By this, the student will be able to access the essential resource easily, either in the University Library or in any bookshop. What used to happen whenever a teacher was changed was that the new teacher ignored what had been taught by the other teacher. This problem is over now. We have been able to solve this problem through the cooperation of all the teaching staff in the English Department by publishing a guide of the curriculum to be taught through the academic year. Any student can get this guide at the beginning of every academic year. If the other departments in the University take the same step, the problem of handouts will soon be over. In my opinion, the university students need not possess a book or a handout listing the subjects to be studied, because this changes the nature of university as an institution for researches and researchers to that of a secondary school. The university students should get used to reading and researching rather than memorizing.
Sometimes the teacher specifies some chapters from a book to by copied by the students. This, of course, is cheaper than buying the book itself. Other teachers collect a number of subjects from different sources and copy them in the form of a handout. Unfortunately, some teachers take this matter materialistically. Student find themselves compelled to buy many handouts bearing the signature or the personal seal of the teacher. In my opinion, students should go to the library after asking the teacher about the books and resources he recommends.
Another point which I would like to talk about is the cultural and sport activities. Students should take part in these activities which are usually organized by a college or a group of colleges. These activities no longer exist because the money allocated for such activities is spent on things that are not related to these activities. We held some cultural activities last year depending on the students financial contributions. When we had the graduation party for the year 1999, the graduates could not find the graduation uniform. When we tried to borrow it from another college in Sana’a University they asked for YR. 200,000 as a guarantee. Fortunately, one of the private universities was ready to extend helping hand to our students and the problem was solved by borrowing the uniform from this private university.
On the subject of the graduates in general and the graduates of the Faculty of Education in particular, many subjects are taught in other colleges such as the College of Science, College of Arts and the College of Languages by the same teachers teaching in the Faculty of Education. These teachers complain that they teach extra hours and they ask for extra money, but the university does not heed what they say. In return, the teachers hide the exams results. Some results have been hidden for two years. The victim in this problem is always the student whose graduation certificate is delayed. The university must look into this problem seriously, otherwise the problem will go on.
In the English department we have the problem of the huge number of students joining this department. Another problem is the lack of teachers. You can imagine that until now there are no teachers for the first level. The Languages Center used to provide us with three teachers at the beginning of every academic year, but this has been stopped after it had been upgraded to a college.
Nabeel Mohmmed Moqbel
Demonstrator, English Department
Students constitute the most important factor in the educational process. It is because of them that we, teachers, exist. Developing the student’s abilities should be among the main aims of the educational process. Unfortunately, this aim is sometimes difficult to achieve due to many chief factors among which is the financial factor. As we know many students are either workers or family men. Many of these students join the university just to get a certificate, not to develop their knowledge. Getting knowledge should be done through reading and researching, not through memorizing. The student should know how to prosecute studies and conduct research. If this is done, the problem of handouts will soon disappear.
In fact, we are compelled to use handouts at the present time due to lack of books and resources either in the university library or in the bookshops. But, using handouts for materialistic gains is a big mistake. However, these teachers do so because of their low income and they do it in order to improve their living standards. The foreign teachers receive three or four times what the Yemeni teachers receive in spite of the fact that the Yemeni teachers are as qualified as the others. This, obviously, disappoints the Yemeni teachers. So, we call upon people in charge to improve the Yemeni teachers’ situations wherever they are.