Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Exclusive – Houthis Set up Black Market to Sell School Textbooks

Exclusive – Houthis Set up Black Market to Sell School Textbooks

Monday, 14 October, 2019 - 06:45
Students receive books in their class at a teacher's house, who turned it into a makeshift free school that hosts 700 students, in Taiz, Yemen October 18, 2018. (Reuters)

The Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen are continuing their crimes against Yemen’s education sector.

Residents living in regions controlled by the Houthis revealed that the militias have set up a “black market” on the streets to sell school books at astronomical prices, in a new ingenious method to extort the people and deprive students of an education.

Many accused the Houthi officials at the Education Ministry of preventing students from obtaining their textbooks, citing stalling by Houthi-controlled administrations in securing the material for the children.

The first month of the academic year is about to end and some students have yet to receive their books, they revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat.

Sources from the Houthi-controlled Education Ministry explained that the Houthi minister was seeking to abuse the education sector to revive the black market at the expense of the students and their future.

Mohammed al-Saeedi, a father of three, told Asharq Al-Awsat that his children had yet to receive their textbooks. Not even one book was provided by the school.

“Why aren’t the books provided to all students? How can officials accept that the book be sold at the black market at manipulated prices, which is compounding the burden on Yemeni families?” he wondered.

He revealed that when approached with these questions, school administrations claim that they do not have books for this year.

They can instead be found in heaps and piles in the black market and sold at very high prices, he lamented.

He demanded that officials reprint the textbooks and provide them to schools. The people should not be forced to pay the expenses of this effort because they are already suffering from very poor living conditions.

Meanwhile, education officials revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Houthis had selectively provided books to a very limited number of public schools.

Their goal, they charged, is to force parents to turn to the black market.

Moreover, they said that the textbooks had become in short supply for three years now. They have been taken out of the schools and sold on the black market by the militias.

One book is sold for more than 500 rials on the black market.

Ahead of the new school year, the Houthis had introduced sectarian amendments to some school curricula.

An employee at the public institution that prints the Houthi textbooks said the militants had ordered the printing of less than 8 million books for the new academic year, a drop from 60 million.

They had shot themselves in the foot when they reduced this number because they would not be able to extensively circulate their new sectarian textbooks, he said.

Editor Picks