By Bushra Al-Ameri
Well-informed sources have stated that a ministerial committee which was formed to investigate the problems facing Yemeni students who are studying abroad has approved a $100 rise in their living stipends.
It is anticipated that the decision will only serve to further enrage the students, who have been waiting for a resolution to their problems for over a month. Yemeni students in various countries have been demanding no less than a $500 stipend increase for students studying in Arab countries and a $700 increase for students studying in western nations.
“Students in Malaysia and Egypt have demanded a 100% raise and students in Germany demand a 200% increase in their grants,” stated a source.
However, the budget allocated for the Ministry of Technical Education stands at YR 300 million and, despite demands that it too be increased, has not been raised since 2009. This state of affairs resulted in the loss of more than 60 study abroad opportunities for Yemeni students in 2012 as a result of unavailable funds; in 2013, 120 such opportunities were lost.
In addition to complaints about insufficient living stipends, students have also complained that what they do receive often does not arrive on time.
According to statistics issued by the Ministry of Higher Education, the total number of Yemeni students on study abroad scholarships is 9300; the students receive support from 30 different government institutions.
“The total cost of the study abroad scholarships is YR 15 billion, while the ministry itself has YR 11 billion,” read the Ministry of Education statistical report.
It was reported that Yemeni study abroad students formed a committee to facilitate communication between students in nine countries, including Germany, Algeria, Malaysia, Russia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, India, Jordan and China.
The students demanded increased stipends in order to better cope with living expenses. The students also demanded that a number of Yemeni foreign representatives and officials be replaced. Many such officials were accused of committing violations against students and being negligent in carrying out their duties.
Students have further called for a review of laws which are concerned with the process of granting academic and scientific scholarships.
Yemeni students in Algeria were the first to launch protests in late December of 2012 with demands for the replacement of Yemeni officials who had posted to Algeria. Shortly after, such protests spread to other nations where Yemeni students were studying abroad.
The last increase in government grants was approved in 2007, with a $100 monthly stipend increase. All later attempts by the Ministry of Higher Education so receive the approval of further $100 increases failed after meeting refusals from the Ministry of Finance.