1:17pm , Tuesday 14th August 2018

Forgotten Students

19 January 2018

Ibrahim al-Muallem and Fuad Rajeh

Amman, Aden, Sanaa(Al-Mushahid)—Hundreds of Yemeni students studying in Jordan on scholarships from their government are struggling to survive and their stipends are going unpaid for months at a time, journalist Ibrahim al-Muallem found.

Some 587 Yemeni students are studying at Jordanian public universities under a cultural exchange program. While 382 of them are supported by the Jordanian government, the rest rely on quarterly stipends from Yemen’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research to cover living expenses and tuition.

Since 2015—the year the civil war began in Yemen—stipends began to reach students in Jordan later and later. In 2017, payments were delayed about six months, according to financial documents reviewed by the reporter.

Many students have been forced to find jobs and work in addition to attending classes in order to cover transportation costs, electricity bills and other expenses. Schoolwork has had to suffer. A survey of 60 Yemeni students in three Jordanian cities by the reporter showed that 75 percent had missed classes because they did not have money for transportation, 90 percent were in debt, and 65 percent had moved into crowded housing to save on rent. Only a quarter of those surveyed said they were studying normally.

In interviews with the reporter, officials in Yemen’s two warring governments—the Houthi government in Sanaa and the internationally recognized government led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in Aden—accused the other of causing the country’s financial woes and the late payment of student stipends.

The government in Aden, which controls Yemen’s Central Bank and is responsible for paying the stipends, says it is working to resolve the issue, but students in Jordan say they have seen no relief.

“I no longer believe any government promises,” said Muhammad al-Hamdani, who studies at Jordan’s Yarmouk University. “History will remember that our officials forgot us and cast us into the fire of exile, the hell of need.”

This investigation was completed with the support of Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) with coach Mohammad Komani.