By: Mohammed Al-Halili
Family disintegration causes serious problems for children, many of whom lose their present and future as consequence. Stories of child victims of family disintegration are many and those collected here provide just a few examples. Anwar, a third-grade student could not continue his studies after his family’s rupture, despite the fact that he had been first in his class for the previous two years. After his mother’s divorce, Anwar started neglecting his duties in school and fighting with his teachers; he dropped out soon after.
A second example is Abdul-Mon’em, who led his classmates as the best example of cleverness and diligence. He found internet shops to be the best alternative to school after his mother left the house due to problems with his father. Although the school’s administration tried to contact his father and inform of his son’s continued absences, Abdul Mon’em’s father did not respond to the calls until his son dropped out. In a similar story, the three brothers Ahmed, Mohammed and Fouad now work in a car wash after the divorce of their mother. They could not afford life and school expenses in addition to the medicine their mother needs regularly.
Nawal Al-Maqbali, a social worker at Al-Sana’ani school said family plays a major role in children’s education, from preparing them to enter school to making them aware of what education really means. She added that if children are not carefully prepared to attend school, they will be more likely to drop out and to feel no regret for their action. “It is not just about providing children with the basic needs of schooling, it is about securing the best and most suitable atmosphere where students feel being and safe,” she noted. Al-Maqbali added that families should push their children for more achievements in their studies and help them to exercise hobbies so that students do not feel frustrated and cease attending.
According to Mawal conflicts within the family and disintegration are the most prominent reasons that children grow to dislike studying and leave school in search of alternatives. She pointed out that many students lost their interest in school as soon as their parents stopped paying attention to their studies. “School administration cannot do the whole job in monitoring the students the way his family can because the family has to spend more time with them,” she added.
Chairman of the educational research department and national coordinator of “Educating for all in Yemen” Dr. Ansaf Abdo Qasem said that when the parents get divorced and start planning for establishing new families, this often leads to children dropping out of school.
Qasem says that the average Yemeni’s awareness of education’s importance and role in developing the future of their students is low, and so they neglect their role in evaluating the level of their children. “This problem is more prevalent in those families of low income or those who suffer social and economic problems,” she pointed out. According to Qasem, one of the serious results of children’s dropping out of school is an increase in number of people unable to find work; these people in many cases later turn to drug abuse or other illegal behaviors, such as working for groups against their counties. She also noted that when students leave school, they ultimately cause financial problems for the state.
According to Qasem?, raising social awareness of the issue can be the best way to eliminate current levels of school dropouts. She thinks that governmental and private organizations should be in charge of launching campaigns for educating people on the importance of education.
A field study conducted by Initiative of Protecting Children and Youth showed that students who dropped out of school fall primarily between the ages of 8 and 18 years old, and that boys drop out of school more regularly than girls. “Girls usually withdraw studying due to early marriage,” the study also noted.
According to the study, most of the dropouts find work in professional workshops engage in the selling of qat or other goods. The study also indicated that a great number of these youths turn to begging for income and become more stubborn. The study also stated that relations and contact between the schools administrations and families are remarkably weak and sometimes completely absent, which makes it difficult for parents to be involved in what their children do. “Most of schools lack basic health facilities, do not enjoy well-planned buildings and fail to take account of children’s hobbies in planning their activities,” the study observed.
Moreover, the study found through field visits that most of the dropouts are subject to different kinds of torture and abuse as they are assigned to do tasks that exceed their physical abilities. These children frequently work for 8-10 hours and receive only 200-600 for their work. “Most of the children we met are suffering psychological disorders and feel like they have lost their right to enjoy their childhood,” the study noted. It added that many of them go through difficult periods suffering lack of concentration, concern, fatigue, malnutrition and anemia.
The study concluded with a number of recommendations including enhancing the opportunities for communication between families and school administration. Other key recommendations include involving students in school activities and providing educational programs that increase family awareness of educational pitfalls such as this one.
By: Mohammed Al-Halili