Research study: Houthi changes in textbooks are sectarian, increase violence, and cultivate obedience

English - Wednesday 18 January 2023 الساعة 04:33 pm
Aden, NewsYemen, exclusive:

 A research study published by the Yemeni Center for Politics confirmed that the Houthi militia - Iran's arm in Yemen, made many changes in the curricula in the areas under its control, which contributed to the normalization of violence and conflict among students.

 The study, titled "Watch Out! Your Son May Be the Next Martyr": Changes in Textbooks in North Yemen, prepared by researcher Malik Saeed, indicated that textbooks in Houthi areas have become entrenched in what they call "religious identity" and the fight against Western imperialism and its regional and local agents.  

As well as banning mixing between males and females, and replacing entertainment songs and chants with Houthi slogans and religious chants.

The research study analyzed 57 textbooks in the Houthi regions from the first to the ninth grade (age group 7-16 years) in the following subjects: Quranic studies, Islamic studies, Arabic language, and social studies (which includes geography and history).  The study proved that these books tend heavily to demonize the international community, Western countries and the Arab coalition countries, and tend to the Houthis' tendency to establish their legitimacy.

According to the study, over the past four years, textbooks used in Houthi-controlled areas have undergone ideological and political changes, and have become filled with materials that promote conflicts by instilling certain values, directing the path of political socialization, and cultivating obedience to them.

The researcher emphasized that the Houthis' use of images of weapons, dead children, bloodshed, and the militarization of narratives in a repeated manner in all grades one to nine, leads to the continuation of violence as a natural reaction to conflicts, and as an unfortunate process that Yemenis must endure to protect their religion, culture, and land.

 It explained that the Houthis are exploiting the Palestinian struggle as a model for the role of the victim, as the Houthis have changed the school curricula to depict Yemenis as victims in front of the world, as well as exploiting Yemeni resources to destroy the religious and cultural identity of Yemenis.

The study indicated that the Houthis sought to consolidate the image that their struggles are an extension of the struggles of the Palestinians, in order to legitimize the violence of their elements because they are victims who heroically defend Islam and the weak in and outside Yemen.

The researcher emphasized that the changes made by the Houthis in the field of education indicate a long-term vision that lacks prospects for peace, and may be motivated by the desire to continue clinging to political power in the north.  These changes could have far-reaching effects on children, who are the seeds of any prospects for peace.

He added that the new changes in the textbooks came to confirm the beliefs raised by the Houthis that they have a divine right to rule the "nation", referring to the Islamic nation, and leadership in all areas of life.  This was confirmed by the changes by celebrating the religious and political leaders of the Houthis as the descendants of the Prophet Muhammad (the family of the house);  The purpose is to build a positive self-image that has legitimacy in governing the country.

 The study confirmed that the Houthis took advantage of textbooks for mobilization and recruitment by portraying jihad as a duty that parents pass on to their children, and martyrdom is portrayed as hereditary, which imprints the idea that children should follow in the footsteps of their fathers.  In addition to explaining the heroism of participating in jihad to defend the homeland and the weak from invaders and traitors.

She pointed out that what is worrisome is the insistence of the new Houthi changes to glorify "child soldiers" on many occasions, and how they participate in the fighting and the fronts and carry out suicide operations on their behalf.

 The study concluded that the Houthi changes in the school curricula will remain an incubating environment to generate incitement to conflict because of the wrong ideas, behaviors and mobilization it cultivates for investment and exploitation, especially after education has been emptied of its goal of supporting peace and today's violations have become the birthplace of tomorrow's conflicts.

 The research study indicated that the curricula must be formulated in a way that makes the past reconcile with the present and the future, calling on donors and national and international non-governmental organizations to work “in the middle of the conflict” and not “around the conflict.”  This requires their interest in supporting education reform now rather than waiting for the war to end, and an assessment of existing textbooks across Yemen and an analysis of their contribution to inciting and/or/mitigating conflict.

The study also called for the inclusion of education in peace talks because of its pressure on all war agents to neutralize this sensitive sector, which could create common ground for peace across the country.