Sana’a University: Another Arena for Political Revenge

Yemen National Newspaper, October 22, 2011

By :  Fakhri al-Arashi

Education in any part of the globe is the key corner of its nation progress. In third world countries like Yemen where education is not a main priority, it has left over 40% of the Yemen population illiterate, and leaves only 23% with the ability to read and write, 16% with high school graduate degrees, 13% with a bachelor degree, and 8% with master’s and PhD degrees.  their bachelor degree and 8% hold the master and PhD certificates .

The minister of higher education and scientific research Dr. Salah Ba-Sarah announced last Sunday that studies for Sana’a University would resume at new temporary buildings and tents.  Students, doctors and teachers have tried to ignore the presence of the protestors in and surrounding the area of the university in the past nine months.Yemen, to this day, remains a strange country where political players turned the future of the new generation into one more object to use to score a political victory.  This ugly game has never happened in any country that faces the Arab Spring revolution. In other countries, the right for academic studies or school study continued to be the safest haven.

In a speech last week made by President Saleh, he said that he is not well educated but he has enough knowledge to deal with Yemen issues.

“We have noticed that the problem of Yemen comes from the well educated people on the community whom we were expecting to be the premiere group pushing progress of the country. Today, we see them working to bring Yemen back to back previous centuries. Today‘s crisis is because of them,” said Saleh,

As the new academic year started in Yemen, the registration process was hard in Yemen for the new students at Sana’a University. This process was disrupted because protestors forcefully took over the surrounding area of the university and did not let any students enter the university campus.

Tawakkul Karman the noble prize women said in a televised interview that they will not leave the change square even if President Saleh steps down tomorrow. “They [protestors] will remain in their locations for more time until they make sure that the new civil government is doing the right job or they will kick them out because they are not expecting to harvest the fruit of their revolution immediately,” said Karman.

Minister of Higher Education Dr. Saleh Ba-S arah, said that, if the decision makers in Change Square would not let Sana’a university students practice their educational right, the ministry would revise its rules and withdraw Islah’s license to the Science Technology University.

“The Science Technology University will have no problems with the protestors this year and we will not allow them to bother the students when they begin their studies this year,” said Ba-Sara. Other private universities are considering whether or not to shut down if the situation remains this way.

Last year on November 3, the political escalation began in front of the northern main gate of Sana’a University during the middle of the first semester exams. Small groups of students started to gather after each exam chanting for the ouster of President Saleh. Since then, the students of Sana’a University could not return back to their classes and have become victims of the political battle of the Arab Spring.

With the ongoing protest, the university has become a storage area for weapons. The university also serves as a military camp for the First Armored Division who announced their split last March to join the peaceful youth revolution.

Ba-Sarah called upon the political parties who are blocking the education process on the ongoing crisis to stop the illegal practices.

“Yemen did not record any cases of education suspension, or the occupation of any education buildings since 1940,” said the minister.

“The ruling party did not occupy those buildings even during the Imamate era and colonizing period in Yemen for the purpose of stopping education. The worst conflicts were on the last eightieth century during the communist party once the clashes were in every street, but no one thought to overtake schools or universities in order to stop the education process like today,” Ba-Sarah concluded.

Education is part of human rights and no one has the right in any circumstance to stop the acquisition of knowledge and drive people to illiteracy and politic conflicts.
Dr. Khalid Tomaim  cahirman of Sana’a University said that the teaching board of directors and teachers have come up with solutions to giving classes for the remainder of last year’s semester. While the new buildings aren’t in line with 21st century standards, they will at least give post graduate students the ability to finish the past year.

The new study places have now been set up at different parts of the capital city of Sana’a. For all students in commerce, law, agriculture and languages, they will take classes at the building of the tourism and hotelier institute and additional tents located on Sheraton area in east Sana’a.

Last year’s civil engineering students will study at the Omer al-Mokhtar School.  The Turkish Institute near Movenpick hotel has been arranged for the faculties of science and Science. The building of Dar Asalam Private University in north east Sana’a is for the faculty of medicine and pharmaceutical, laboratories and dental. Informational computer majors will study at AZAL university. Education students will study at Adhban school  and some will go to the Kawiat school.

Dr. Murad Alazzany, doctors at Sana’a University faculty of education said that doctors  in the university are disappointed in the move as the new places  are not equipped enough with educational facilities.

Every lecture in the university knows that moving the students was a political decision rather than a professional.

A protestor student staying at the change square since the start of the revolution in Yemen said it does not make a difference whether there will be studying this year or not.

“Hundreds of thousands who graduated eight years ago did not find any government jobs, so we need to change this regime first who created more unemployment and then we can study,” Tariq continued,  “The revolution is comprehensive and it started to make a proposer future so I call those who are in hurry to join us here.”

Khulood Nasser, another student, said that “in other Arab countries like, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and elsewhere, none of the protestors called to stop education. Even with the protests, education is still my right,” he added “In Yemen, political parties have issues with the JMP ruling party and both are pushing us into their battle. I need to learn so I need to go to my university. I do not have money like those who go to the private university or those who sent their children to study abroad.”