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|Education: Improper Spending and Poor Outputs|
Moneer Al-Omari, Hasan Al-Zaidi
(YEMEN POST STAFF)
Article Date: November 24, 2008
Yemen in 1990 had only two universities: one in Sana'a and another in Aden. However, there was an expansion in higher education during the late 1990s, when more universities were established in Taiz, Hodeidah, Ibb, Hadramout and Dhamar.
New universities are also currently being established in Mareb and Amran provinces and President Saleh recently announced the establishment of Hajjah University. This brings to ten the number of governmental universities.
Dozens of high and post-secondary public institutes and community colleges as well as vocational and technical institutes were launched nationwide. Private sector was also allowed to open and run institutes teaching subjects like computer, English, and French, marketing, business, etc.
Further, the door was wide open before the private sector to open universities as dozens of private universities exist now across the country. Despite this expansion, experts reveal that graduates of both private and public universities are weak, especially when quantity matters more than quality.
Despite the fact that there has been a wide expansion as for the number of higher education facilities (including 25 private universities), their outputs do not meet the requirements of the domestic market.
The graduates are also incapable to compete in the labor markets of neighboring countries because they were taught in poor environments, lacking the practical application of what they study in books and handouts.
According to specialists, graduates lack the necessary skills of life and have limited ambitions and show no interest in studying or learning new things not linked to their fields of study. They also stress that there is no actual need for opening new universities in provinces and it was already enough to have seven universities, while the sums allocated for opening new universities should be allocated for improving and equipping the existing ones.
Likewise, they stress that there must be clear standards for accrediting private universities as is the case worldwide. These universities should not be allowed to work only under strict measures and after officials make sure they have the infrastructure that qualify them as universities.
The recent statistics of Civil Service Ministry indicate that about 90,000 graduates have applied for jobs in the public sector.
With high education institutions graduating over 150,000 a year, officials stress that the public sector cannot hold more than 5,000 a year and this number is to decrease during the few coming years.
In return, the private sector is weak and is incapable of containing the increased number of graduates who donít have the required skills that qualifies them to rival in labor markets of Gulf countries or elsewhere.
Recent studies stress the importance of revising the current situation of the education system where about 80,000 students are enrolled in education faculties, 19,000 enrolled in law and Shariah departments and 160,000 others enrolled in different fields of humanities.
Yemeni government has recently sought to meet the needs of the domestic labor market and it has inaugurated dozens of vocational and technical institutes; however, the number of these institutes are not sufficient.
According to recent statistics, there are over 25,000 students enrolled in vocational and technical institutes nationwide, while there are over 235,000 students enrolled in public and private universities.
Waste of money
This increased number of students enrolling universities is faced with bigger money waste as there is a noticeable rise in public education and training allocations. The public spending in this sector has mounted to YR 231 billion, with a growth rate of 17 percent. State spending on education takes up what is equal to 6 percent of the country's GDP and represents about 14 percent of state budget.
When state thinks that such increased spending on education could solve the problem, studies say the opposite. These studies indicate that this spending does not match up with the population growth and educational process development requirements.
A large portion of the spending is directed to face the increased demand on education resulting from the inflated increase of population, so this makes the increase of spending not sufficient and unhelpful.
Meanwhile, such spending suffers a lot of shortfalls as for distribution. The current and operational spending takes up 84 percent of education sector's total budget, against 16 percent for capital and investment spending, according to 2006 statistics.
Public education institutions are financed at 90 percent by state and studies expected the state finance of these institutions to reach YR 761 billion in 2035 when Yemen's population is expected to reach over 35 million.
The support provided by donor countries to education and training sectors in 2007 reached YR 7.2 billion and makes up 3 percent of this sector's total budget.
Education costs for student
Studies revealed that a student's current costs of education at Yemeni universities have been recently increasing at 20 percent. A single student's costs during 2006-2007 reached $524.
The total amount of money wasted in public universities reached YR 4.5 billion, mainly because of students' failure.
State wastes bigger sums of money on sending students abroad for study and there are over 39 government parties who grant scholarship for students. The total budget allocated for this budget reached YR 13 billion in 2007.Granting scholarships is not subject to standards and the whole process is marked with shortfalls and corruption as mentioned in numerous reports by the Central Administration for Control and Auditing (COCA).