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Caught between Western demands and local needs: The attitudes of Yemeni educators toward Western education reform initiatives

Modhesh, Abdullah
Scope and Method of Study: This descriptive exploratory study utilized survey research for collecting data pertinent to the views of Yemeni educators about the need for curriculum reform and their attitudes toward Western reform initiatives. Relationship between these views and attitudes and demographic and religiosity orientation factors were explored using correlation and manifest and latent content analyses.
Findings and Conclusions: The study showed that a vast majority of the Yemeni educators (95%) acknowledged the need for educational reform for one reason or another. They perceived a need for promoting democratic values in the curriculum and teaching about tolerance. However, suspicion of the intentions of the West prevented educators from embracing the Western reform initiatives. Age, academic degree, and the number of years correlated negatively with rejecting the Western reform initiatives. Suspicion of the West was higher among younger educators with lower degrees and among the ones who have not lived abroad. Personal religiosity (praying, fasting, reading the Quran) was not a significant factor in understanding who accepts or rejects Western reform initiatives, but support for political religiosity was. The main reasons for suspecting the Western initiatives' intentions were: the Western support for Israel, the history of colonialism, and fear of losing culture and values. It is recommended that reform partners support existing local efforts and understand the sources of suspicion and address them. A more balanced US policy in the region would help. It is also recommended to involve local likely partners in the reform efforts and to encourage further education abroad.