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Soqotra Training Centre

The Soqotra Training Centre, which provides a core teaching programme of English language and Computer skills, closed during the Monsoon which blows from the end of May to September. However, there has been a request for some years for the Centre to open a satellite school in Qalansiya, the second largest town on the island which is more sheltered than Hadibu. This year for the first time two teachers moved to Qalansiya when the Centre in Hadibu closed in May and taught Level 1 English and Computer literacy for one semester. This was very successful and, dependant on teacher availability, it is planned to reopen the school in Qalansiya from February to May 2008. 

In June, the Centre’s Landlord in Hadibu required the return of the premises for his own use. After some searching, a replacement and improved building was found nearer the centre of Hadibu at a rent of $300 per month, an increase of $100 pm. When the Centre reopened in October after the Monsoon, there were 100 applicants for level 1 (beginners) which reduced to 80 and a further 50 students in levels 3, 5 and 7 making a total population of 130 studying English. There are also 20 students studying computer science at three different levels, a beginners’ class, a class in Power Point and Publishing and an advanced course in computer maintenance and trouble shooting. It is hoped that two further teachers will come in time for Semester 2 which will enable the Qalansiya school to reopen and the addition of a conversation class in Hadibu.

Seven students have now left the Centre and have gone on to get external scholarships in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia while six are in further education in Aden and Mukalla. Over the last three years some 25 students have become tour guides and translators in the tourism industry and others are working as drivers/translators both in the tourism industry and in government departments on the island. It is very much hoped that next year two students will start a three year degree course in Tourism at Vienna University on MBI Al Jaber Scholarships. The most encouraging information about all the graduates from the Centre (who include the Governor of Hadibu) is that, even after further education abroad, they have almost without exception returned to the island to work with and for their fellow islanders and this commitment to their island shows no sign of weakening. On a recent visit a team of consultants working for UNDP described the Training Centre as ‘the most important thing happening on Soqotra’.

The demand for places at the Centre remains very strong and while all the teachers are volunteers and find their own personal expenses, there is an inexorable increase in costs whether in rents for the Centre itself and for teachers’ accommodation, electricity and water charges and transportation both within Soqotra and to and from the island. These recurrent costs must be covered if the Centre is to survive. The other main need is to find replacement computers for those donated by the British Council some five years ago. Some of these have already had to be replaced and others are now very slow. The Director of the Centre would like to raise sufficient funds to purchase 12 Dell laptops enabling four to be set aside for Qalansiya. The total cost of this would be in the order of £6,000.

The British-Yemeni Society has been endorsing the Soqotra Training Centre since 2005 and is hoping to raise new funds to support the running of the Centre. All donations will be gratefully received. Cheques should be made payable to the British-Yemeni Society, endorsed ‘Soqotra Appeal’ on the back and sent to:

John Mason
Hon. Treasurer - The British-Yemeni Society
Little Ormesby Hall
Ormesby St Michael
Norfolk NR29 3LQ

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