Apparently our government thinks we should. At this exact moment, there are more than 400 Malaysian students hiding in shelters provided by the Malaysian Embassy in Sana’a while civil war rages in Yemen.
While our Defence Ministry and Foreign Ministry should be applauded for trying to rescue our students from the war zone, one wonders why our students are there in the first place.
For a decade Yemen’s Sunni government has been battling the Shia rebels in the north, separatists in the south and Islamic extremist groups as well. These wars have taken many lives.
People have died over control of mosques. Civilians have been killed in roadside ambushes. There have been riots. Mortars and rocket-propelled grenades have been fired. Crime rates have gone high. People walk the streets with guns. Civilians, even young children, carry daggers. Murder is an everyday event. There is death everywhere.
Yet, our students are sent to Yemen to pursue their education. Why?
Yemen is one of the poorest nations in the Arab world. It has an unemployment rate of about 35 percent. More than 45 percent of the population live below the poverty line. The average literacy rate is 49 percent.
The international media refer to the country as a failed state and people in the Arab world call it “the next Afghanistan”. It is facing serious economic, social and environmental problems. Most disturbing of all, Sana’a will be the first capital in the world to run out of water.
Yet, our government sends students there. Why?
YouTube has some interesting videos about Malaysian students in Yemen. Apparently, some time last year, a number of our students were already evacuated from Yemen. All of them speak of hiding in rescue areas for weeks, during which time they heard the sounds of explosions continuously. But what is really shocking is how young some of these students are. They look nowhere older than 16 years.
Why are children sent for their education in a war zone? No one can deny that Yemen is a hotspot for terrorism. What education can our students possibly gain in such a godforsaken place? What are they studying anyway? Will their education be recognised in other parts of the world? Are their education expenses covered by tax payers?
The people of Malaysia have a right to know the truth. The Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs should come clear on this issue and stop feeding us with the rescue mission bullshit.
Perhaps Muhyiddin Yassin, as Education Minister, can answer this question: Why the need to send our children to a war-torn, failed, fragile country if the Malaysian education system is one of the best in the world?