Business

High-Priced School SuppliesWorry Families

National Yemen

High-Priced School SuppliesWorry Families

Asma Al-Mohattwari

Ahmed, a child of ten, saved the money he received from relatives during Eid to help his father cover his school needs. “I know my father doesn’t have that much money to give us all what we need, so I saved my money to help him.”

In the recently released results from preparatory and secondary schools across Yemen, female students received the highest marks.

Equally exciting, for the first time in Yemen, a student received a full score at the preparatory level. Zinab Abdualrahman Mahmoud Basanbal achieved a total final score of “700 degrees” in the preparatory level, which equates to 100%.

Zinab, a student from al-Mukalla, studied at the Khawla Bint al-Azoar school; her scores were the highest of all Yemeni students in her age group.

Asma Nabil, a secondary school student, was recognized for highest marks in the sciences, while Hanan al-Khazzan was recognized for highest scores in the arts.

The Ministry of Education announced these results last Tuesday. In total, 318,807 students applied for exams this year. Of that number, 304,922 students attended exams. The remainder—just under 50,000 students—were absent from the final examination.

The ministry declared that 254,723 studentspassed their exams and 13,885 students failed, for a pass rate of 83.537%.

The pass rate in Yemen’s secondary schools was similar. Out of 207,527 students who attended secondary school exams, 169,555 students passed for a success rate of 82.52%. Approximately 38,000 students failed their secondary exams, while 11,473 exam applicants were absent.

The announcement of test results also heralded the arrival of a new school year. As always, the opening of the school’s doors inspires mixed feelings among students of all grades. But while students are generally happy with the arrival of the new school year and its promise of renewed friendships and the recounting of holiday memories, the new year can be an anxious time for students’ families, who struggle to provide their students with the uniforms, bags, shoes, and stationery they will need for their classes.

Once the concern over last year’s grades has passed, parents must turn to this new concern. Ahlam, a mother of three, frets over how to provide her children with all their academic supplies. After finishing all the requirements of Ramadan and Eid, she then begins worrying about school necessities.

“My children are like all students, and they want to make sure they have all the items their school requires. I do my best to provide them with what they need,” she said.

Mr. Mohammed Khalid has seven children, all in different stages of their educations. He has already purchased their necessary school supplies, including clothing, bags, and shoes, “but I still have to buy their books, pens, and other supplies; those are really going to cost me a lot.”

Sewing shops and bookshops view the period after Eid as a time of large profits. Abdullah, a bookseller, said that his store offers school supplies and tools directly after Eid. They introduce numerous other goods into their inventory at this time, including pamphlets, pens, pencils, sharpeners, and other supplies.

Some markets have begun to sell school uniforms as well, often at attractive discounts. Ibraim al-Wosabi said that sales have picked up since they introduced uniforms to their store.

Ahmed Ali, a father of six, said, “frankly, [my children] can just use last year’s uniforms; it is enough for me to buy their other school needs”.

Some school requirements are harder to meet than others. Some teachers request their students to purchase certain kinds of notebooks, but many students are unable to afford these materials. When schools are also unable to dispense such materials, students are at a loss. Ahmed, a secondary school student, describes this struggle. “I buy what I need of stationery and clothes, but I can’t help but notice the high prices of paper and school notebooks. Teachers also force us to buy certain types and sizes of books. They will ask us to buy notebooks with 200 sheets. If we don’t come to class with these notebooks, they punish us, so we have to buy the exact kind of books that our teachers ask for.”

Ahmed’s father suggested that the Ministry of Education should provide free school uniforms or at least uniforms at discounted prices, and expresses frustration that families must buy textbooks because of the lack of books in schools.

“We really suffer a lot to provide these necessities, and what we want from the school and the teaching staff is a dedication to our children’s education. We want them to provide the best for our sons,” he added.