Thoughts about the beginnings of Aden College II
Abdulla Ahmed Al-Sayyari
MBA ( SHU), BSc (LON), MBBS (LON), MD (LON), FRCP, FRCP (EDIN), PhD (HON)
Aden College Alumnus
Professor of Medicine
King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences
Head of Nephrology & Renal Transplantation
King Abdulaziz Medical City, Riyadh
Editor-in-Chief, Saudi Journal for Kidney Diseases and Transplantation
Chairman, Saudi National Committee of Kidney Transplantation
In the essay entitled the “Aden College Phenomenon –Part I” I outlined a number of theories as to why the British might have decided to establish Aden College in 1952. Dr Shihab Ghanem felt that this topic is open to debate and it his urgings we received some thoughts by two alumni, Dr Adel Aulaqi and Dr Isam Ghanem.
As regards the question as to why the British created/invented Aden College?. In the context of where we are today, these are only quick preliminary ideas that may have completely missed the point of the question. The question is posed in such a way that, perhaps inadvertently, it seems to deny the "voice" of the indigenous population who deeply wished for higher and better education to happen.
This is a massive topic which needs very close scrutiny and analysis of the whole educational programme for the area. On the one hand, India's impending independence, for example, played a role as did the emergent and then active Arab Nationalism coupled with a change in policy from the concept of "Aden for the Adenis" and the separate policy of non-interference in the Protectorates to the "Forward Policy" of countering Arab Nationalism, to the concept of State Building .
However, on the other hand, it could be seen as essentially a response to an economic imperative to continue the British presence in the area. Professor Asmahan Al-Alas wrote her Ph.D thesis on the topic of education under British Administration, but relevant to the role of women only. It is available as a well-written book that is worth reading in detail. Thus the topic can be approached through a number of prisms. Perhaps the best approach would be to ask alumni how did Aden College impinge on their lives...both positively and negatively?. Then a unique answer will emerge to this most interesting question, not forgetting why the British were in Aden and the South Arabian area in the first place. I remember that there was a division, similar to what was going on in UK itself, between assumed IQ-based "intellect/ brain power" and assumed predominant "mechanical aptitude". Hence the creation of the two schools, Aden College and the Technical Institutes.
Also, if I remember correctly, Aden College was initially to be the test-bed for the production of the "clerks" for the expanding commerce and office work!!! It is worth remembering that only very few actually earned a scholarship for higher education in reality. I do not have the figures but if my memory serves me correctly, out of an year group of some 80-100 students only 10-12 went into 6th form. Please correct me on this very important fact. Also during this period, the dichotomy between centre (Aden) and periphery (Protectorates) was palpable, not only in Education but also in Health etc. This impinged on Aden College. So the issue is fraught with many perspectives and requires great, sensitive but demanding analysis by the use of published and archival material as well as properly collected oral history.
The question must not be answered without a great deal of rigour that will stand to close external scrutiny. To my mind, in the end, the educational system with all its limitations, gave the area and its people a basis of education from which it could spring to a future based on an educational approach that was linked to the rest of the world. I hope I have covered the broad concepts..details over to you Abdulla and Shihab please. But as you can see it could be a massive job for one individual. May be collaboration will be the guiding light.
Dr Isam Ghanem (LL B, Ph.D.Laws)(Lond),M. Phil (London)FCMI writes :
Even Haykal admitted that neither he nor Nasir realized the importance of Aden to the Empire. Aden was the hub of the Empire. Haykal says Libya was used by the Americans with British permission in 1967 to stop Nasir advancing in Yemen towards Aden but that Harold Wilson and the CIA were at odds as the Yankees considered him a former KGB when at Oxford. Aden was a Crown Colony. None of the other Arab countries under British domination even reached the level of Colony.
They were colonial protectorates including Egypt. We used to accept Nasir's ideas without realizing the difference I tried to say in the BBC audio in 1993 and Arabian Tears, etc, that the Brits asked a lunatic called Lorry Hobson to explain such complicated matters in qat chews. The message never reached us at that time.
Britain loved Aden and wanted to keep it happy. It was only in 1956 that anti- British sentiment arose. Aden College started according to historian Dr.Adel Aulaqi in 1952 although inaugurated in 1953. If Aden was to play the role of current Singapore it had to have cadres not Gabalawiz.