Houthis ‘depriving millions of Yemeni children of education’

Students attend a school in Sanaa. (Reuters)
Updated 18 April 2017

Houthis ‘depriving millions of Yemeni children of education’

JEDDAH: Millions of Yemeni children risk missing out on proper education due to the Houthi militias’ refusal to pay the salaries of hundreds of thousands of schoolteachers in the rebel-controlled areas, the Yemeni government said on Monday.
“Of the more than 300,000 teachers in the country, over 130,00 in the rebel-held territory have not been paid salaries in months,” Yemeni Education Minister Abdullah Lamlas told Arab News.
“Since the government has decided to relocate the central bank from Sanaa to Aden, Houthi militias have been using the teachers as pawns, refusing to pay their salaries and thus undermining the entire education process and endangering the future of the new Yemeni generation,” he said. 
He added that over the past two years, Houthi militias and forces loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh have denied Yemen’s children the right to education and placed them in harm’s way by recruiting them by force.
He said the coup militias also changed the school curriculum to instill sectarian ideology into the students’ minds.
“Houthis have deprived more than 2.5 million students of the right to education, in addition to shelling, raiding schools and turning them into military posts and weapons deposits. They destroyed more 1,700 schools since they have turned against the legitimate government,” said Lamlas.
He added that the Education Ministry is making efforts to develop a program to sustain a comprehensive rehabilitation of students.
The coup militias printed over 11,000 pamphlets carrying the views of their leader Hussain Al-Houthi and the group’s slogans, which they distributed in schools controlled either by the militias or by forces loyal to Saleh, independent Yemeni sources reported.
Meanwhile, a UN report warned this month that the two years of war may have deprived an entire generation of Yemeni children of education, putting them at greater risk of early marriage, in case of girls, or of being recruited as child soldiers in a conflict that has killed at least 10,000 people.
Months of unpaid salaries have exacerbated the situation of over three-quarters of the country’s impoverished teachers. It also means that up to 4.5 million children might not finish the school year, UNICEF representative for Yemen Mertixell Relano told a press conference on Monday in Sanaa.
“At the moment, we have more than 166,000 teachers in the country that have not received a salary since October last year. This is more or less 73 percent of the total number of teachers in the country,” Relano said. “Those children that are not in school, they are at risk of being recruited (for military service), or the girls might be at risk of being married earlier,” she stressed.
The crisis began last year when the internationally recognized government shifted Yemen’s central bank out of Sanaa, which is controlled by the Houthis.
The government says the Houthis looted the bank and that it is trying to make all payments despite the Houthis obstructing transfers, a charge the group denies.
Seven months of salaries are in arrears, public sector employees in Houthi-controlled parts of the country say, making commuting to work and making ends meet difficult. 


A project helps Syrian entrepreneurs in four countries escape the shadow of war

Updated 13 December 2019

A project helps Syrian entrepreneurs in four countries escape the shadow of war

  • Start-ups are offered competitions, bootcamps and training programs
  • 'Spark' has been running an entrepreneurship program for five years

CAIRO: The Startup Roadshow was founded in 2018 to help Syrian refugees and expats in four different countries: Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, and Jordan.

It was established when Spark, a Dutch organization supporting youth projects all over the world, reached out to Jusoor.

“We have been running our entrepreneurship program for five years, and we’ve been running training boot camps and competitions for Syrian startups,” said Dania Ismail, board member and director of Jusoor’s Entrepreneurship Program.

“We have also developed our own proprietary training curriculum, which is tailored to Syrian entrepreneurs, in the region and around the world.”

Spark sought out Jusoor to create a project to support Syrian entrepreneurs in those four countries, later bringing on Startups Without Borders to handle the competition’s outreach, marketing and PR.

“We came up with this idea where a team of trainers, facilitators, and mentors would move from one city to another because it’s hard for Syrian youth to travel around. So, we decided to go to them,” said Ismail, a Syrian expat all her life.

The competition goes through five cities: Beirut, Irbil, Amman, Gaziantep and İstanbul.

The boot camps last for five days in each city, and throughout the Roadshow, 100 entrepreneurs will undergo extensive training and one-on-one mentorship to develop their skills and insights into the business world.

“We have five modules that are taught on different days. Then, the pitches are developed, practiced and presented,” Ismail, 39, said.

“In each location, we pick the top two winners — in total, we’ll have top 10 winners from each city.”

The top 10 teams pitched their ideas live in front of a panel of judges, at the second edition of Demo Day 2019, which was held in Amman on Nov. 4.

The best three Syrian-led startups won cash prizes of $15,000, $10,000, and $7,000, respectively.

They also had the opportunity to pitch their business ideas during Spark Ignite’s annual conference in Amsterdam. The competition aims to give young Syrians the hard-to-get chance to secure a foothold in the business world.

“We’re trying to empower young Syrians who are interested in the entrepreneurial and tech space. We want to empower them with knowledge, skills and confidence to launch their ideas,” Ismail said.

Despite the limited duration of the Roadshow and the lack of financial aid, the people behind the program still do their best to help all applicants.

“We try as much as possible to continue supporting them on their journeys with mentorship, advice and connections through our very large network of experts and entrepreneurs,” she said.

Jusoor’s efforts to help Syrian youth do not stop at the Roadshow, and the future holds much in store for this fruitful collaboration.

“We’re expanding our entrepreneurship program, and our next project will be an accelerator program that will continue working with a lot of the promising teams that come out of the Startup Roadshow,” Ismail said.

“We want to provide something that has a partial online component and a partial on-ground one, as well as an investment component where these companies receive funding as investment, not just grants and prizes,” she said in relation to the second phase of the Entrepreneurship Program, which is launching in 2020.

Ismail said: “The Roadshow was created so that Syrian youth can have the chance to change their reality, becoming more than victims of an endless war.

“The competition gives them the tools to become active members of society, wherever they may be, contributing to the economies of those countries.

“Once you’ve built up this generation and given them those skills and expertise, they’ll be the generation that comes back to rebuild the economy in Syria, once things are stable enough there.

“We hope that a lot of these young entrepreneurs the Startup Roadshow was able to inspire, train or help will be the foundation for the future of a small- to medium-sized economy inside Syria.”


• This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region.