By Tamjid Alkohali
In a time when most schools around the world are realizing the importance of music education and making it a basic subject, it’s completely absent in Yemeni schools. Yet some schools like this absence.
When Eshraq al-Mutawakil of the Amanh bint Wahb Public School was asked about music lessons in school, the reply was a fear that families would take their daughters out of school.
Al-Mutawakil, who has worked for seven years in the school, confirmed that there aren’t any kind of art activities practiced by students in the school. “We don’t have teachers for art subjects. The only activity is sports that are practiced intermittently.”
According to Al-Mutawakil, they work hard to have such activities in the school, but the problem is with the Education Office, which does not provide them with the funds or and teachers.
“In the school, we still lose a lot of important things, such as chairs, books, aids and many other things. Education in public school is really in a miserable situation,” she added.
On other hand, Al-Mutawakil emphasized that if they could make students enjoy practicing some activities, music would be the last choice because it may lead to students leaving the school. “I realize the importance of music class for students. However, I know well the problem we may face as result of entering this subject. In the Yemeni community, especially in Sana’a, many families still have a tribal mentality that prevents music and thinks that it is a waste of time. We try to make families aware of the importance of education,” she explained.
The lack of possibilities is always the main reason behind the absence of many important activities for students. However, music lessons are also absent from private schools despite their financial capabilities.
In an interview with Abdul al-Wahab, responsible for activities at the Nahda School, considered one of the most important schools in the capital Sana’a, we found a deliberate absence of music classes in the school.
Al-Wahab says that there is no music class but they do have Enshad (religious songs). “The school and the families who register their sons believe that music in Islam is forbidden so we train students in Enshad using religious tones instead,” Al-Wahab explained.
Yemen Modern School is considered one of the rare schools that is interested in music classes. The school principal, Amat Al-Karim Abdul Qadir, said, “I believe that school subjects are a part of students’ success. It makes them comfortable, active, and happy. Music is a good way for students to learn and memorize lessons in all levels.”
Abdul Qadir added that sometime parents don’t want their sons to study music, thinking that it’s not important, but when they find their children are happy in studying music and how it makes them love school, they appreciate the importance of this lesson. “Families just need to recognize the importance of music. When they find their children became braver, more confident for acquiring art skills, and have the ability to express their feelings, they directly ask the school keep on having music class,” she said.
Educational specialist Wadad spoke more about the importance of music lessons for students. According to her, music lessons improve the creative capacities of students and are a main reason in highlighting the various talents of the students. They also activate brain cells and make students active.
“It also activates hearing senses, artistic tastes, and reveal the talents of the beautiful voices of children and gives them the opportunity to train that increases their confidence in themselves,” she added.
The lack of musical teachers is considered one of the reasons for the absence of music in schools. Many private school principals say there is limited number of musicians and they prefer to work in musical bands rather than teach in schools.
Andera Abdullah Atshan, the Executive Manager of Yemen Music House, said that people realize the absence of music subject in schools when they learn about it, so last year they held a training course for musicians from every province to train them to teach in schools.
“The training course was good, but the problem was when they went to work in schools, most of them complained of a lack of possibilities in schools and the low salaries that the schools give them,” Atshan added.