Mohammed Abdullah Zabarah: “Change needs time.”
Ahmed Dawood (author), Ahmed Dawood (photographer), Sadeq A-Faqih (author)
Mohammed Abdullah Zabarah, deputy director of the Establishment for Schoolbook Printing Presses, asserted in an interview with the Yemen Times that the problem they face isn’t a lack of schoolbooks but a lack of enough paper.
Zabarah said that a new branch with modern machines was opened in the Jader area in Sana’a to speed up the printing of schoolbooks.
The number of printed schoolbooks has decreased in the last few months. Why is this?
Actually, the number of printed schoolbooks didn’t decrease. Instead, we advanced by leaps and bounds. Five years ago, we opened new printing presses in Al-Mukala and Aden. Recently, we opened a new printing press in the Jader area in Sana’a which will cover 70 percent of production; the rest will be produced by the other printing presses. This shows there has been no decrease.
When we visited the printing presses we found that several machines didn’t work and employees had nothing to do. What is the reason behind that?
Yes, this is a big problem. We’re facing this because we ran out of paper. For the first time, action is being taken against paper purchasing violations.
Why haven’t you imported paper?
We are allowed to import only 800 tons of paper. Since we are going to start working with the printing press in Jader, though, we will need 2,600 tons.
The Ministry of Education added the roll system to the printing machines and this made the printing faster but the problem we face is there is not enough paper.
What have you done to overcome this problem?
The Ministry of Education took effective procedures to solve this problem and about 3,300 tons of paper are soon to arrive.
What plans do you have to overcome this problem?
In addition to what I said before, we have received approval from the Supreme Committee for Tenders to import 10,000 tons of paper and we will work for three shifts per day, so that we will have enough books by the beginning of the upcoming school year. I am certain that there will be no problems in the upcoming year with school books.
Several schools complained that they don’t have the books from last year’s second semester. Why is this?
It is for the Ministry of Education to specify the needs of schools. The problem is that we distribute school books to relevant people in each governorate and they distribute them to each district. Our responsibility ends by handing books over to those people.
Moreover, we hand books over to the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Expatriates and the Military Morale.
What distinguishes this printing press from the others?
It is very fast and there are several hi-tech machines that aren’t found in Yemen. The employees in the printing press were trained in Germany.
Chemicals are used in printing schoolbooks. What safety procedures do you follow to protect the employees?
We provide safety procedures if there is any danger to the lives of the employees. Once I visited the printing press in Jader and found that they had a problem with the paper used. I immediately took safety procedures to protect them.
However, I want to reaffirm that Yemeni employees don’t pay attention to safety procedures. I always urge them to put on masks during work but they don’t.
Sometimes, chemicals added to paper in stores affect student when they get the schoolbooks. What do you say about this?
In fact, most of the paper we use is from roll papers and this brand affects neither employees nor students. We deal with a company to check the papers and whether they are made in good conditions.
Three months ago, the workers held protests to demand their rights. Did you address their issues?
This was a part of the uprising in society.
Is it an uprising or a revolution?
You can call it whatever you want but what is important is that people started to demand their rights. Change needs time.
How did this affect the establishment?
What I liked most about it is that it encouraged people to say what is right and what is wrong, in contrary to how they were in the past.
Moreover, people began to demand their rights. We have to uphold people’s rights even if they didn’t demand them because rights are inalienable.
Schoolbooks are being sold in Tahrir Square while schools lack them. How can you explain that?
I say to the Minister of Education and Secretary of Sana’a that it is not our responsibility if schoolbooks are being sold in Tahrir Square. I said earlier that we give the books to the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Expatriate and the Military Morale and they are responsible for this.