He studies in a private school in the capital Sana'a. Although he is still a child, Al-Awlaqi is very knowledgeable.
He watches cultural, religious and science programs on T.V. He reads children's magazines. Furthermore, he asks his classmates questions relating to culture and challenges them to answer.
His grades are excellent and he is the top student in his school.
Al-Awlaqi often competes in his school's cultural competitions against other middle schools. He also takes part in the activities of the mosque in his neighborhood of Al-Asbahi in Sana'a.
Many families in Yemen send their children to school, but few families take further interest in their children's studies. Al-Awlaqi is one of those lucky children whose family takes great interest in his schooling.
“Watching T.V. is a good way to educate children and culturally nurture them. Nowadays there are special channels for children. Internet is also another way to educate children,” said Mohammed Al-Shaibani, a resident in Sana'a and a father of five.
“However, children don't use these media properly. All they are interested in is surfing the net for fun, playing games and watching soccer matches. This is a problem with my children, because I can't direct them to get involved in other things like reading,” he added.
Furthermore, children have to go to book fairs to select the books they like. Children's magazines are important too, but are often issued irregularly. They can't be found everywhere, and this is a problem, according to Al-Shaibani.
For his part, Rani Al-Absi, a Yemeni teacher in a private school, feels that children's magazines and media are very important to educate children. There are moral lessons in magazines stories and also there are particular educational channels from which children can learn.
On the contrary, Abdusalam Al-Amir, a Yemeni young man, feels that children's magazines and T.V. aren't the right way educate children. He thinks that they are a waste of time and many channels are filled with aimless programs that don't benefit children.
“The most important place to nurture children's minds is in school. They learn from their teachers and also interact with their classmates,” said Al-Amir.
“Inadequate curricula, along with the illiteracy of families, has caused poor children's education, and kept children ignorant of their culture,” said Radad Al-Salami, a Yemeni journalist.
According to Al-Salami, ignorance of their native culture has made Yemeni children accept everything they hear without critical thinking. Al-Salami feels that what is needed nowadays is to nurture children's morals and values. What children study in school must be linked to what they find outside in the world.
Religious and family role
“Families form the basic ground on which children can stand. Parents are responsible for educating their children in order to be effective members of society,” Al-Salami said.
“When they mature, they must be able to face life's challenges, and they won't be able to do so without education,” he added.
Al-Salami feels that the Holy Qur'an must be taught to children first so that they can learn how to behave. They must know their duties and rights by heart and they must be taught how to accept others' points of view.
“The Holy Qur'an is an inimitable source of education that purifies the heart and conscience. It strengthens children's beliefs to allow them to differentiate between what is good and what is bad,” he continued.
Using stories and visual learning techniques
Different techniques, such as using pictures, can be used to educate children. A picture of a tree or a house is given to children so that they can make a mental link between the word “tree” and its picture, according to teacher Al-Absi.
“Moreover, stories can be used to educate children by telling them a story and then asking them to do some exercises to check whether they understood the story or not,” he added.
“I usually use stories with children. They make children's learning process active. They enjoy stories very much.”