Amidst endless armed conflicts in the Middle East, Yemen is often times overlooked as its issues are internal rather than external. But ongoing clashes between clans and tribes has destabilized almost all aspects of Yemeni life. Education in Yemen is one of the disrupted sectors.
In an effort to encourage students to attend school despite the internal conflicts, the Yemeni government, which controls all educational systems, provides free education to those in primary school. Despite this, in 2013 UNICEF reported that two million children between the ages of six and nine were not attending school.
The crisis and conflict are the reasons children are not receiving an adequate education in Yemen. Attending school has become a safety issue. Many times bombs destroy the schools, or schools are, “damaged, looted, closed, or occupied by displaced families, gunmen, or armed forces”, according to A World At School.
Those brave enough to attend, however, receive low-quality education as a result of inadequate staffing and resources. Having little education themselves and often times skipping school, teachers have little passion for motivating their students to come to school and work hard.
Many of these schools also do not have proper resources. As stated on the World at School website, “About 30 percent of students do not have a desk to sit at when in school.” Not having basic necessities such as desks can alter the student’s attention and overall learning experience. When fifth graders were asked to read a simple sentence, only 62 percent could.
Yemeni activists are calling for reforms and resources, creating educational opportunities as a solution to radicalism and conflict. Dubai Cares is one organization working with 35 Yemeni schools, both rural and urban.
In these schools, Dubai Cares workers provide better education and safer opportunities, especially for girls. The organization’s goal is to “ensure more female teachers at the schools and at least 20 satellite classrooms will be established in distant villages to encourage girls to come to school”.
The government has also subsidised learning and allowed students to enroll even if they advance “without having learned to read or write properly”, according to Al-Monitor.
An even greater mission for 2019 is planned under the Global Partnership for Education whereby the US pledged $72.6 million to Yemen schools. Intertwined with funding, the partnership created the Medium-Term Results Framework which outlines 10 programs, all of which aim to improve education at all levels, reducing gender gaps and expanding programs.
The potential for these programs is enormous. Yet, there is still a need for internal and external assistance to help improve education in Yemen, which remains “not a good place to be a child”, according to UNICEF. “This is not only because the life, in general, is difficult, but also because schools are unable to adapt and serve as nurturing environments attractive to students.”
– Kristen Guyler