Women’s Representation in RwandaRwanda has a higher percentage of representation of women in government than any country in the world. In 2017, there were 49 women in the lower house of parliament, which is more than half of its 80 seats, and 10 women in the upper house of parliament consisting of 26 seats. The high proportion of women in government came after the devastating Rwandan genocide of 1994, and the country has made significant strides since then.

A Shift in Gender Representation

The genocide in Rwanda marked a change in gender representation because, after the violence had subsided, 70 percent of the surviving population was women. This was a result of the practice of killing men and allowing women to survive as sex slaves during the genocide. However, it was not only the new gender disparity that caused an increase in women’s roles in government, but the country also introduced quotas requiring 30 percent of candidates for public office to be women.

It is important to note that the Rwandan government decided to increase the representation of women in government through candidate quotas in political parties rather than seat reservations in parliament. According to a study by Mala Htun published in Perspective on Politics, “Women and men belong to all political parties; members of ethnic groups, by contrast, frequently belong to one only.” By using quotas, the Rwandan government is acknowledging the bipartisan nature of women in government.

Therefore, the most efficient way to establish a higher representation of women in government is to promote their representation within political parties because they are a cross-cutting group, meaning that women have an active political presence across the political spectrum. This thoughtful approach to increasing women’s representation in the Rwandan government has resulted in record-breaking numbers of women becoming involved in political life in Rwanda and setting positive examples for young girls throughout the country.

The Difficulties Women in Government Face

The presence of women in such politically powerful positions in Rwanda has not come without difficulties. Many women face backlash from their families or husbands for sacrificing domestic work in order to become political leaders. In fact, Berthilde Muruta, Executive Secretary in the Rubavu District noted that “there are people who think that we come to meet men, or for other business, which makes it hard to be trusted by our husbands.” Additionally, female politicians in Rwanda are oftentimes not seen as equals to the men in similar positions.

According to Claudette Mukamana, a District Vice Mayor, “When people see you holding any of those [elected] positions as women, the very first question asked by everyone is: Will she be able to perform her duties? Is she capable of holding such a position?” Despite these difficulties, the presence of so many women in the Rwandan government has resulted in the passing of several key pieces of legislation to improve the lives of women and girls throughout the country.

These reforms include legislation to alter the Civil Code to allow women to have equal inheritance rights as men, equal pay, consequences for gender discrimination and harassment in the workplace and further prevention and consequences for violence against women and children. In addition, with 7 of the 14 supreme court justices in Rwanda now being women, new laws were passed requiring that both boys and girls must attend primary and secondary school.

Areas to Improve

A lot still needs to change in regards to the perception of women’s roles in society. Furthermore, there is still more progress to be made, especially in terms of violence against women. The Rwandan government performed a study that showed that two out of every five women ages 15 and older had been physically abused at least one time in their lives. As more women are elected to office, hopefully, more people will change their perspective in these areas and these statistics will represent that improvement.

The representation of women in the Rwandan government has led to significant advancements for the rights of women and girls throughout the country. Globally women only hold 21.9 percent of all elected seats in government. Promoting the equality of men and women in political positions in Rwanda and around the world is integral to solving many of the issues governments face. Although the system is not yet perfected, the world could learn a lot about the importance of women in government from Rwanda.

Alina Patrick
Photo: Flickr

top 10 switzerlandSwitzerland is a great example of how addressing poverty and encouraging economic growth can lead to a multitude of positive outcomes. It is a country full of history, rich culture and magnificent mountains. Recently, the country has popped up on the radar as its general state of living has risen to a considerably high level. Many have started to consider moving to the alpine country as a result. Below are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Switzerland.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Switzerland

  1. The cost of living in Switzerland is extremely high. The value of the franc increased when the country switched to a floating exchange rate. Bern, Zurich, and Geneva were ranked among the most expensive 15 cities in the world.
  2. The high cost of living isn’t a huge problem for Swiss citizens as the net financial wealth of the average household in Switzerland is $128,415, compared to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Developments reported an average of $90,570. The net adjusted disposable income for the average household sits at $36,378 compared to the OECD reported an average of $30,563. This means that Swiss households have over $6,000 more to spend per year on goods and services. Switzerland was placed third on the scale of the highest amount of disposable income in Europe.
  3. Overall poverty is low. Only 6.6 percent of the population is reported to live in poverty, and only 4.6 percent live in extreme poverty. The rate of poverty has been decreasing steadily since 2007.
  4. Healthcare in Switzerland has gained a reputation of its own. Their combination of private, subsidized private and public healthcare systems experience no wait-lists, highly qualified doctors, hospitals and medicals facilities with the best equipment seen around Europe. However, the universal healthcare system is not free, nor is it tax-based. Health insurance in Switzerland is mandatory, and the out of pocket payments and monthly premiums are pricey for the individual. Swiss health insurance is reported to cost around 10 percent of the average Swiss salary.
  5. Switzerland has a high-quality education system as well. The country comes in at nine out of 65 countries in an educational standards survey given to 15-year-olds. Unlike most countries, the Swiss have a decentralized education system that is not paid for by the government. The 26 member states that make up the country are primarily responsible for the system. Education has a multilingual focus, which encourages international students and the option for public, private, bilingual and international schools.
  6. The country has a life expectancy of 83 years, which is three years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. The life expectancy is high despite the slightly higher than average level of atmospheric pollutants that are damaging to the lungs. Reports measure the rate of pollutants at 14.5 micrograms per cubic meter, whereas the average is 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter.
  7. Switzerland ranks below average in civic engagement. It has one of the lowest levels of voter turnout in the OECD at 49 percent; whereas, the reported average is 69 percent. The gap between voters is large as well. Fifty-nine percent of the top 20 percent of the population participates, in comparison to 41 percent of the lowest 20 percent of the population. This is a larger gap than the average.
  8. Crime continues to fall to lower rates in Switzerland. In fact, in 2017, crime was down by more than 6 percent. Burglaries are the most common offense in Switzerland, making up two-thirds of the reported criminal offenses. Burglaries had also decreased by 6 percent, but police threats and cybercrime were reported to rise last year.
  9. Childcare was also quite expensive in Switzerland. As a result of this, a temporary programme has set out to increase the number of child care facilities in the country. This will increase the number of options parents have for childcare and lower the rate as supply and demand will encourage competition and lower prices.
  10. Overall, Swiss are much more satisfied with their living conditions than most. They scored a 7.5 out of 10 on the scale for satisfaction, compared to the OECD average of 6.5.

Switzerland is doing quite well. The economic growth along with the decline of poverty rates have resulted in better childcare, education, rates of disposable income and increased safety. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Switzerland act as a clear paradigm of how addressing poverty and encouraging economic growth has a positive domino effect on other aspects of life. Not only do people live better but they also feel happier and enjoy a closer sense of community. Addressing global poverty does much more than just save lives, it betters the individual, the country, the economy and the impact on the rest of the world.

Mary Spindler

Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in LibyaLibyan women are progressing in society because of a stronger commitment to tearing down barriers to gender equality. New policies such as the Libyan General National Congress’ funding of a study abroad program for the country’s top young scholars have opened doors for improving girls’ education in Libya.

The Funding Initiative

The program has sent educators and students alike to receive training at elite international schools to spur development upon return. The government pays for the student’s expenses and awards them a monthly stipend of 1,600 euros a month. Initially, the fund gave scholarships to students who fought in militias during the civil war but was later expanded to allow women and handicapped students to receive scholarships as well.

This legislation built on an already strong commitment to education made by previous Libyan governments. Former president Muammar Gaddafi made it mandatory and free for all students to attain a primary education. Mandating a public school education transformed Libya from a largely illiterate country before its independence to having 80 percent of its population receiving a primary education.

Education Policies in Libya

Coeducational schools were built across east Libya to accommodate the influx of students. West Libya still has male and female students attend separate schools, but the curriculum is regulated by the government as an incentive for students to choose fields that benefit the nation’s current need. A standardized curriculum helps level the playing field for all students.

The results of these policies have been largely successful for girls’ education in Libya, but the country still has a long road to true equality in education. The Libya Status of Women survey found that 52 percent of Libyan women reached secondary education or higher, compared to 53 percent of Libyan men. Both men and women are achieving similar levels of higher education which will help combat gender economic inequality. Additionally, 77 percent of female students under the age of 25 reported having plans to complete  secondary education or higher compared to 67 percent of men.

More Work to be Done

Women are striving for positions in extremely skilled and specialized positions which increases their economic desirability. These numbers are especially impressive given Libya’s recent civil war that devastated the region. Following the revolution against the Gaddafi regime, 15 schools were completely destroyed resulting in tens of thousands of students not finishing their school years. The education system has demonstrated great resilience in this chaos which has greatly benefited girls’ education in Libya.

Despite these promising statistics, Libya still has to address several areas of gender inequality in its education systems to promote girls’ education across the country. The same Libya Status of Women survey also discovered that 14 percent of Libyan girls failed to finish their first six years of basic education, compared to only three percent of boys. Unfortunately, cultural stereotypes of females still put them at a systemic disadvantage. This is especially the case in rural Libya. The schools are coeducational, but boys are required to sit at the front of the class and girls in the back. West Libya faces a similar problem. The boys’ schools are given priority in government resources because it is believed they will become more skilled workers.

Opening the study abroad program to women demonstrates the current administration’s commitment to gender equality in education which will hopefully combat the disparity observed in the primary education completion rate. These efforts need to extend to rural communities in Libya to maximize effectiveness.

The future looks very optimistic for Libyan women as activists continue to pressure the government to install change. Since 1955, notable women’s rights movements have helped level the playing field for women in education and continue to be an effective driver of change. Libyan women are continually becoming more educated and some of the most skilled workers in society.

– Anand Tayal
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in SwazilandSwaziland has endeavored to increase employment and economic growth. Among these efforts, still more work needs to further these goals and priorities. One area that the country has made progress in is improving living conditions in Swaziland by reducing the number of people living below the poverty line. With continued effort, Swaziland can make positive steps in strengthening its healthcare system, increasing employment rates and economic growth and increasing the retention rate of girls in school. These top 5 facts about living conditions in Swaziland will show where they are succeeding and where they need more work.

Top 5 Facts about Living Conditions in Swaziland

  1. In Swaziland, unemployment rates, in general, have not changed much in the past few years, hovering around 26 percent. There are further discrepancies between unemployment rates for women. For example, in 2007 and 2010, the rates stayed level around 30 percent. For men, however, the rates between 2007 and 2010 were 24.0 percent and 22.7 percent. There is still more work to be done in increasing youth employment. In fact, Swaziland has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Africa. The unemployment rate has remained higher than 50 percent since 2007. Specifically, working to reduce youth unemployment is a major part in helping reducing unemployment as a whole. Solutions to decrease youth unemployment are tertiary reforms and increasing vocational and on-the-job training. In addition, adding more growth to the private sector is key to helping to create high paying and productive jobs. Companies like Orange and OpenClassrooms are working to provide digital education to Africa’s youth to help young people find jobs in the tech markets.
  2. There has been some progress made in the living conditions in Swaziland by reducing the number of people living below the poverty line. According to the Swaziland Household Income and Expenditure Survey, the percentage of people living below the poverty line was 69 percent in 2001. However, the percentage had dropped by more than half to 30 percent in 2015. These numbers represent, on average, 20 percent for those living in urban areas, but for those living in rural areas, it was as high as 37 percent. Reasons for such high poverty rates were the decrease in incomes, the stagnation of private consumption and the decrease in the GDP.
  3. As a whole, economic growth has declined in Swaziland. Real GDP growth decreased from 1.3 percent in 2016 to 1 percent in 2017. Economic growth was projected to be at 1.5 percent in 2018. Factors that have contributed to the decline in economic growth are low demand from pivotal export market destinations, especially from South Africa and Eurozone. In addition, the sector also experienced a decline in economic growth and a loss of eligibility in status to trade under the African Growth and Opportunity Act Arrangement. Swaziland’s average GDP annual growth rate had been its highest in 1990 at 21 percent, but it dropped significantly down to .7 percent in 2016. Fortunately, the GDP annual growth rate had risen up to 2.3 percent in 2017.
  4. The healthcare system consists of formal and informal sectors. Health practitioners and general service providers make up the informal sector while industry, private and public health services as well as nongovernmental organizations make up the formal sector. Swaziland puts around 3.8 percent of its GDP towards healthcare, the government providing 65 percent of the money, which is about 2 percent of its GDP. The federal budget was increased from 7 percent in 1998 to 9 percent in 2009.
  5. There still is more work to be done in closing the gender gap in education. Swaziland’s educational levels are primary education, secondary education, vocational education and tertiary education. Although there is not a great disparity between boy and girls attending primary, dropout rates do tend to rise by year 5 of secondary school. More work needs to be done in increasing the retention rates for both girls and boys in school, although more work is needed for female retention. While there are not as many obstacles for girls starting school, there are numerous obstacles that hinder girls from staying in school. Between the ages of 15 and 19, 50 percent of girls will not have completed secondary school, compared to 39 percent of boys. Some of the obstacles are poverty, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and gender insensitivity. Furthermore, more than two-thirds of families live in poverty, and many find difficulties in paying for school fees and other costs.

These 5 facts about living conditions in Swaziland show that, while there is more work to be done in areas of employment, economic, growth and education, there has been notable progress in helping to improve the living conditions of the people. One area that has seen progress is the reduction of the number of those living below the poverty line. With more effort, Swaziland can see positive developments in helping the lives of all people.

Daniel McAndrew-Greiner

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in St. Vincent and the GrenadinesSaint Vincent and the Grenadines is a small island nation in the Caribbean that has faced a number of challenges in the past decade. The nation has a population growth rate of negative 0.31 percent and approximately 15 percent of the total population was unemployed in 2008. There are several causes of poverty in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, but most are related to its failing economy and poor education system.

The failure of the banana industry around 2008 pushed much of the population into unemployment or poverty, and the sudden rise of the construction industry has created an income gap. There were very low wages across the country and few job opportunities, leading to a poverty rate of 30.2 percent. The nation needs to focus on better integration into the global economy and on creating a more competitive national economy.

Low education levels has also been one of the larger causes of poverty in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. While there are programs in place, such as the School Meals and Textbooks program, to help low income families educate their children, many poor children still do not attend school everyday. Literacy rates were at 84 percent in 2008, but younger generations did have higher levels than older generations.

Gender inequality with relation to access to education is another of the causes of poverty in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In 2008, it was reported that nearly 50 percent of women had their first pregnancy between the ages of fifteen and nineteen. It was also noted that the labor market was inherently biased and women needed much higher levels of education to be able to compete with men. Households with a female head tended to be much poorer, and there was no formal legislation to deal with gender discrimination in the workplace.

Strides have been made, however, toward reducing poverty in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In terms of the economy, tourism has become a larger sector and has created more jobs. With increased tourism has come increased construction, and that has also created the need for more labor. In terms of education, in 2000 the government set a number of goals that were to be achieved by 2015. These goals focused on providing good quality and compulsory primary education to all children, but particularly girls and ethnic minorities, and improving literacy rates and access to higher education for both boys and girls.

While there is not a lot of recent data about poverty in the nation, these goals are quite progressive and have shown solid attempts to reduce the causes of poverty in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. With continued effort from the government, the small island nation should be able to develop further and improve the quality of life for its citizens.

Liyanga De Silva

Photo: Flickr

A New Model for Education in Developing CountriesIn most developing countries, the majority of children do not finish primary school. For example, only 50 percent complete fifth grade in Ghana, and less than half of them can understand a simple paragraph.

Programs working to achieve the Millennium Development Goals have had great success in increasing school enrollment in developing countries, but many still do not finish school. Obstacles to children completing their education include the difficulty of getting to school and paying for uniforms, books and examination fees.

Another significant factor is the opportunity cost. That is, when a child goes to school instead of working, their family is missing out on an opportunity to bring in extra income. Most of these children will work in agriculture or trade, not in the formal sector. Continuing past primary school does not provide any economic benefit for them or their families.

Education in developing countries tends to adopt traditional western ideals, focusing on literacy, math, social studies and science. For most children, however, these topics are irrelevant to their lives and do not help them improve their real-life circumstances. A new educational model called “school for life” focuses on building the students’ ability to improve their lives. The curriculum focuses on entrepreneurship, health education and empowerment.

Within the realm of entrepreneurship, the curriculum teaches financial management, market analysis and interpersonal skills. Students are also taught how to identify business opportunities and effectively turn them into a revenue stream.

Since many of these children live without access to proper healthcare, teaching them how they can protect their own health is crucial. Many common health issues, such as malaria, dysentery, respiratory infections and nutrition-related illnesses are preventable by simply making small lifestyle changes.

Rote learning dominates education in developing countries, which encourages memorization instead of creativity. The most powerful resource is empowered people, and education systems can unlock this asset for their country with this innovative approach to education. The “school for life” system promotes interactive exercises instead of lectures, so that students have an opportunity to practise desired skills and learn to think critically. For example, students may work on a project to improve the cleanliness of their school. This activity allows students to develop practical skills like planning, collaboration, delegation of tasks and leadership.

A pilot version of the “school for life” curriculum has been adopted in Escuela Nueva in Colombia. If schools switch the focus from improving standardized test scores to empowering students to improve their lives, education can become a powerful tool for lifting people out of poverty.

Kristen Nixon
Photo: Flickr

Afghanistan Is PoorDespite an influx of international aid, 39 percent of Afghans live in poverty, and this number is increasing. A shocking 1.3 million more people are poor in Afghanistan today than in 2012. Why is Afghanistan poor? The country has experienced conflict since the Soviet Union invaded in 1979. Political transitions within the country also cause insecurity. Most households in Afghanistan are not established enough to cope with economic shocks or natural disasters. About 20 percent of Afghans live just above the poverty line and slight economic shocks could drive them into poverty.

One answer to the question ‘why is Afghanistan poor?’ is that the economy is too small for the growing labor force. Many workers are illiterate and looking for low skilled jobs, but there are not enough of these types of jobs. In 2016, Afghanistan’s GDP growth was 1.2 percent. While this was an increase, it is not enough to bring workers out of unemployment. Economists estimate that GDP growth needs to be eight percent to successfully employ the Afghan work force. Unfortunately, continuing conflict and insecurity within the country makes this growth unlikely.

Rural Afghanistan is poor due to its dependence on agriculture and informal labor markets. Low investments and natural disasters have hurt the agriculture market that most Afghans depend on for employment. Natural resources necessary for successful agriculture are lacking in Afghanistan. Compared to its population, there is little farmable land. Precipitation is scarce and there is insufficient irrigation infrastructure. In addition, the country has faced multiple debilitating droughts since 1999.

In rural areas, small-scale farmers and herders, landless people and women who are heads of households bear the largest burden of poverty. Women in Afghanistan face increased inequalities because they have less access to education and health services. A lack of skills or a medical condition can keep women out of the workforce. Widows account for a large population of the poor in Afghanistan. Due to fighting within the country, there may be over one million widows in Afghanistan. Most of these women have children to support. Unfortunately, the patriarchal society excludes them from many social and employment opportunities, so most become beggars.

Many countries and organizations have poured aid into the country. However, it does not seem to be helping. The inequality between the rich and poor in the country is increasing. Much of the aid went to build schools and hospitals, increase public services and repair infrastructure. While these human services are important, the agriculture sector continues to struggle, and rural households don’t have protection from economic shocks. In addition, the government did not always distribute funds fairly throughout the country.

Why is Afghanistan poor? Afghanistan is poor due to continuing shocks to the country, and it is necessary to build programs to insulate households from economic instability.

– Sarah Denning
Photo: Flickr

Education in MoroccoSince Morocco’s independence in 1956, its education system has typically been described as frustrating and disappointing. In recent years, Morocco has made numerous improvements and committed to solidifying the quality of its education system. Here are five facts about education in Morocco.

  1. The academic year begins in September and ends in June. The school system is structured into three separate parts. Primary takes students starting at the age of 6 and educates them until the age of 12. Secondary and tertiary last another three years each. Morocco also offers educational options beyond public schooling with higher learning institutions.
  2. Learning and knowledge are typically measured through literacy, the ability to read and write. Reading and writing are essential to reaching higher levels of education and scoring well on national performance tests. Morocco’s youth have made tremendous strides in increasing their literacy rates. The World Bank reports 95 percent of youth ages 15-24 years old can effectively read and write. This is an increase from 81.5 percent in 2011.
  3. Men in Morocco currently dominate the gross enrollment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary education systems. The UNESCO chart for secondary education shows that male enrollment exceeded female enrollment by 10.8 percent in 2012. However, tables for 2015 show a decreased gap in admission ratio for primary and tertiary education.
  4. Public spending on education has been significantly rising in Morocco. According to the OCP Policy Center, government spending on education in 2014 was about 5.9 percent of GDP and 21.3 percent of total government spending. Since 2002, payments have been increasing by more than 5 percent per year almost every year. One analysis from the International Monetary Fund confirms a more organized use of this money has the potential to lead standardized test scores to increase by 53 points.
  5. Morocco suffers from low-quality education as reflected in performance indicators. In a 2014 update completed by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Morocco ranks in the thirtieth percentile for learning compared to other countries. The most recent PIRLS and TIMSS assessment results for 2011 showcase just how poor Morocco’s performance is. Test results reveal Morocco ranks second to last in math and last in reading compared to the 36 countries participating.

The good news is that experts and policymakers have fully recognized the remaining barriers for education in Morocco. A way forward has also been identified through their 2015-2030 Vision for Education in Morocco. The plan will address previous failures by targeting four specific areas including the priority for quality education. The country has already partnered with the USAID to make some of these goals a reality. So far 12,000 students have been reached with a new reading method and over 340 teachers have been trained on new reading instruction.

Emilee Wessel

Photo: Flickr

Education in Peru Rural Areas
From the mountains to the ocean, Peru is a diverse country, housing some citizens in highly populated cities and others in the most rural locations. While education in Peru has expanded, rural inhabitants do not always have equal access.

Children in Peru are required to be enrolled in school until age 16. After secondary school, however, student enrollment numbers begin to dwindle. As the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reported in 2010, primary schools have the highest percentage of children enrolled. From primary school to tertiary school, enrollment rates decline about 50 percent. Despite this decline, 94 percent of Peruvian adults are literate, which is higher than the world median.

 

Education in Peru: Urban vs Rural

 

Children in urban areas have the easiest access to education in Peru. Those living in the Andes, Sacred Valley and other rural areas, however, struggle to reach education levels similar to those of their urban peers. These children are more likely to drop out of school due to family labor responsibilities. As recorded in the CIA World Factbook, of the 2.5 million children in Peru approximately 865,600 children are in the labor force. School life expectancy, or the number of years an individual is expected to spend in school assuming a constant enrollment rate, is 13 years for citizens of Peru.

Rural students’ school experience differs from that of their urban counterparts, as they have to walk several hours a day to get to school in nearby urban areas. Sometimes rural areas have schools, but these schools frequently do not have the resources or support to educate students at different levels. Instead, students of all ages sit in one classroom, making uniform curriculum development a difficult task.

Teachers are being trained to educate rural students under yearly contracts. This training can be challenging as most rural students do not know Spanish. Teachers have to learn Quechua, the native language of many rural students. Rural and urban teachers alike are faced with an inadequate hierarchy system. Teachers often do not know whether they will be teaching until a week before classes begin, eliminating the ability to plan ahead. These teachers are also unable to get necessary resources, fear being fired and are paid very little.

To overcome these obstacles, Peru’s Ministry of Education developed the Alternate Education for Rural Development program. Since 2002, this project has assisted nearly 3,000 young children in 40 rural schools and 11 regions. The program has been successfully accommodating rural students, as shown in 2012 when about 50 percent of students were enrolled in tertiary school and close to 70 percent were simultaneously working.

Other organizations are improving education in Peru as well. Unearth the World (UTW) works with nonprofit organizations in Peru to help provide women, children and teens living in poverty with proper education services. Peruvian Hearts helps Peruvian girls attend secondary school and college by offering scholarships ranging from $500 to $6000 per year.

Kristen Guyler

Photo: Flickr

Education in Yemen
On August 13, 2016, a Saudi-led airstrike killed 10 children at a school in the country’s northern region, and all were under the age of 15. Unfortunately, children in Yemen have become accustomed to this fallout from the civil war that has raged within their country since March of 2015. Currently, education in Yemen has become a crucial subject for the country’s youth, who struggle to continue learning despite the war surrounding them.

Here are some features of what education in Yemen looks like for millions of children today:

  1. On any given day, the number of children in Yemen who miss out on school exceeds 2 million. Reasons range from lack of textbooks and chairs to the destruction and militarization of school buildings.
  2. Children in Yemen often face grave danger both in and out of class. Students have been killed on their way to school as well as while attending classes, raising questions within families as to the safety of pursuing education.
  3. Staying home, however, raises further concerns. The fear of child recruitment is very real — children as young as eight have been counted by the U.N. as some of 1,200 enlisted to fight in the conflict. Education proves an effective tool for keeping children from the violent arms of war.
  4. According to the U.N., more than 3,600 schools have closed in Yemen since the beginning of the conflict in March 2015. Bombings destroyed many of these buildings, while many others are now used as training facilities for military forces. UNICEF currently estimates that it needs $34 million for its Back-to-School campaign to help rebuild Yemen’s education system, which includes building restoration, training, textbooks and provisions.
  5. In the 14 years leading up to the conflict, education in Yemen saw an incredible period of growth and improvement. Yemen’s enrollment rate rose from 71.3 percent to 97.5 percent during this time, an incredible stride, according to The World Bank.
  6. In July 2015, UNICEF and Yemen’s Ministry of Education trained 50 teachers and social workers to help children deal with the psychological fallout of living in the country torn apart by civil war. Specialized training in psychosocial approaches offers a healing hand to children growing up in war zones and helps equip them with the tools to deal with the violence.

In the midst of such difficult times, both teachers and students have proven that education in Yemen is a valuable thing. Although a large number of children currently struggle to find ways to learn, their path is becoming increasingly clear due to the hard work and resolution of educators in their country.

Emily Marshall

Photo: Flickr