Source: Yemen Times, By Nadia Al-Sakkaf
TAIZ -- The political party that has been ruling Yemen since its establishment 28 years ago, the General People's Congress, celebrated its anniversary in Taiz on Tuesday August 30 with a seminar on education.
"The political structure of this party was formally created 28 years ago with a focus on education. This is why we decided it was more apt to celebrate this by reviewing our success in the education sector in Taiz, which is the origin of culture in our country," said Sheikh Jaber Abdullah Ghaleb, head of the GPC in Taiz.
In his opening statement he said that the GPC's institutional structure places importance on education as a basis for development and on building the Yemeni character and cultural heritage.
The seminar focused on three subjects: mainstream education, vocational and technical education and higher education. Presenters on the topics were members of the GPC and based their papers on comparing statistics from the 80s to those of today.
"The number of schools in Taiz alone has increased to 7,191, receiving 1,653,962 students being taught by 50,004 teachers," said Prof. Mohammad Taresh in his paper on mainstream education.
On vocational education Mansour Raweh, head of trainers at the Ministry of Technical Education and Vocational Training, said that in Taiz governorate there had been an increase in the number of students in this area to 6,395 pupils in 31 disciplines, an achievement which he credited to the GPC.
Nationwide, technical education and training institutes had witnessed an increase in their number to reach 67 institutes containing 25,098 students.
Prof Sultan Al-Mikhlafi talked about progress in higher education, praising the deliberate actions taken by the ruling party to improve higher education in Yemen in terms of the number of universities and the quality of higher education. Today there are 14 public universities, six of them still under construction. The number of private universities and colleges has reached 32, of which 17 are under implementation, with a total capacity of 253,816 students.
The seminar ended by awarding distinguished educators in all three fields from Taiz governorate, and the GPC congratulating itself on its accomplishments in this sector.
A different reality
However, despite the pat on the back the GPC gave itself, the reality of education in Yemen according to statistics is not so positive. According to a 2007 UN report only 43 percent of girls and 67 percent of boys were enrolled in primary, secondary or tertiary education in the country. In addition, only 35 percent of girls were literate, compared to 73 percent of boys.
Just one day before the seminar celebrating education the Supreme Council for Education Planning issued a report indicating that attaining a basic education in the country is far from successful. The report indicated that about 1.4 million Yemeni children do not attend school and live under the threat of illiteracy, and that around 80 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 14 drop out of school. Almost 75 percent of those who remain at school must repeat classes.
Yet according to the GPC website almotamar.net, Yemen has raised its expenditure on education over all levels to YR 279 billion, which represents 19 percent of the state's public expenditure. Public education represented YR 202 billion of that total, while higher education and scientific research obtained only YR 55 billion and technical education just over YR 22 billion.