School starts in Yemen as teachers strike in Houthi-held areas

By Abu Bakr al-Yamani in Sanaa


Yemeni girls attend class at a public school in Sanaa on the first day of the 2016-2017 school year. This year, Yemeni schools officially reopened on September 17th, but teachers are on strike in areas controlled by the Houthis, including Sanaa. [Mohammed Huwais/AFP]

The 2017-2018 school year kicked off on Sunday (September 17th) for primary and secondary school students in parts of Yemen under government control.

Meanwhile, teachers in areas controlled by the Houthis (Ansarallah) and their allies are on strike, as their salaries have not been paid for a whole year.

While officially launching the school year at al-Shaab Educational Complex in al-Buraiqeh, Aden, Yemeni Minister of Education Abdullah Salem Lamlas stressed the need to start the new school year on schedule in all provinces.

The ministry has printed 70% of the school textbooks that will be needed, he said, and has supplied them to all schools in Aden, Hadramaut, Marib, Shabwa, Abyan, Socotra, al-Mahra, and Jawf provinces.

Books also have been distributed in most of al-Dhale and part of Taez.

'Strike will continue'

Aesh Abu Luhum, secretary-general of the Educational Professions Union branch in Sanaa, said the teacher strike would continue until teachers’ salaries in areas under the control of the Houthis and ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh are paid.

"Teachers are facing the toughest situation ever," he told Al-Mashareq. "They cannot even afford food for their children."

"The strike will continue until the salaries which have been stopped for a year are paid," he said.

"We want the educational process, which is linked to teachers going to their schools, to continue, but this will not happen if salaries are not paid," he added.

"The stoppage of education is a disaster for all," Mohammed al-Fadhli, director-general of the Education Office in Sanaa administrative district, told Al-Mashareq.

He urged the Supreme Political Council, an executive body formed by the Houthis and Saleh's General People's Congress, to respond to the union's demands and pay teachers' salaries.

The council's Ministry of Education, meanwhile, said the school year would start on September 30th in provinces under its control: Sanaa, al-Mahwit, Hajjah, al-Hodeidah, Raymah, Ibb, Dhamar, Amran, Saada, and part of Taez and al-Dhale.

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