Yemeni youth shout: Help us! [Archives:2002/40/Culture]

September 30 2002

It is well known that the youth are the powerhouse of any nation. Therefore, all nations and societies pay more attention to the youth and do all their best to develop and improve their lives in all aspects including education, culture and science, etc. If the youth are strong, educated and well-oriented, their nation becomes stronger and more prosperous. Only then will they look at the future with hope and optimism. Youth have the potential to build modern and developed nations.
But what if the authorities do not care for their youth? What if a system is not working to explore the potentials of the young population? What if a nation does not empower its next generation with knowledge and correct orientation in order to build a better tomorrow?
Frankly speaking, our youth here in Yemen are pessimistic about the future. They see a dark present and even a darker tomorrow. Their approach to life is full of frustration. They are frightened by what is to come. Let me convey to you the impressions I got from a number of young men at Al-Awkaff area in Ibb City, particularly from the street known as ‘love street.’ This street has become an important place for huge crowds of young boys and girls aimless drifting back and forth. They walk up and walk down the street, talking loudly, flirting, teasing and haggling. They have nothing to do but wandering in the street day in and day out.
During my visit to the ‘love street’ I met with some young boys and asked them, why they come to this street. “This is the best place in Ibb. We used to come here to spend time in feeding our eyes and enjoying ourselves” one of them said. “We have nothing to do except wandering and hanging around in the streets with no objective” another commented.
This habit is not restricted to Ibb alone. The same applies to all major cities in the republic. Thus, this implies that a significant portion of our young generation feels lost and does nothing meaningful to keep itself busy. Basically, this is a lost opportunity for the nation because this way, we fail to benefit from the energy and resource that these young people represent. But more ominously, if we cannot harness this energy for good use, it could be exploited in a bad way leading to enormous difficulties for the future of this country.
Some people have spent many years going to schools, sometimes finishing university degrees. However, as they graduate, they fail to find any job opportunities. They feel frustrated, desperate, and hopeless. They studied hard and graduated in the hope of finding jobs, starting a family and securing a peaceful future. However, not only do they fail to fulfill their desires, but they also do not contribute to the welfare and progress of their country as a whole despite the fact that they do have the ability to be productive and helpful.
Those young educated graduates face a bitter reality and become pessimistic about their future. When schoolboys see their seniors jobless and completely frustrated, they lose interest in studying because they do not believe that the education they get is a guarantee for a better future. Whenever urged to read and work hard in their studies, they refuse by shrugging heir shoulders and asking “what is the use of studying if we know that we will not find any jobs once we graduate?” This is the question asked by the students of these days.
They argue that the way to wealth and prosperity in Yemen of today is not through education and hard work, but by linking up with influential power centers either through hypocritical political affiliation, especially those that are close to the regime or by forgery, stealing and robbery. To make their case, they give examples of well-known ignorant and corrupt individuals, who have become rich and influential figures.
To conclude, it is believed by the youth that the well-being of a person in Yemen today has little to do with how much informed or how hard working he/she is. According to many young men and women, the system does not promote or even value the qualities of hard work and knowledge. That is because unqualified, undeserving and unproductive people are holding high-ranking positions in the state, while the qualified are set aside.
The youth of Yemen deserve higher priority in the hierarchy of the state. The future of the country can only be built by and through them. The unemployment rate in Yemen is estimated at a staggering 38%. While that is already a terrible waste of manpower, it is a pity that an increasing number of the jobless are among the educated people of Yemen. It is unacceptable to see the most-educated sector of the population is unable to work and hence make ends meet, while the least productive and educated are hired as very influential figures.
Thus, we call upon the concerned authorities to pay more attention to the youth because they are the hope of the nation and of the future, and a nation without well-educated youth that are given their leading role in the community is a nation without a future.