For the past eight years, the civil war between the Saudi-led military coalition and Houthi rebels has plagued Yemen. More than half of the Yemeni population is below the poverty line, and women are most vulnerable with a 26.1% unemployment rate compared to the 12.3% of men. This ongoing conflict severely affects Yemeni citizens and students. As for higher education, the estimated 20% of Sana’a University students cannot afford to attend class without transportation and books, having to stay home instead.
Effects of War on Higher Education in Yemen
As the war escalates, universities lack funding, rendering attendance unaffordable for potential and current students. Around 100 universities have suffered damage from air strikes and bombings, as of 2018, and military forces are utilizing dozens more. Professors in public universities suffer from a 40% reduction in salary, resulting in a shortage of professors. Students face challenges with displacement and injuries sustained from the war, financial burden from lack of employment, increased living costs, and possible abduction into soldiering. Nevertheless, various organizations have come forward to offer funding and support for Yemeni students, lowering the cost of education and ensuring that future generations can access learning opportunities.
Organizations that Lower the Barriers to Higher Education in Yemen
- The Scholar Rescue Fund – The Institute of International Education initiated the Scholar Rescue Fund in 2002. It collaborates with universities worldwide to offer secure academic placements to Yemeni scholars. Universities across Europe, North America, Malaysia and nearby regions accommodate these placements, enabling students to actively engage in their studies using their native language, maintain connections with loved ones and establish relationships with colleagues and peers in Yemen. Since its launch, the Scholar Rescue Fund has supported 1,059 endangered and displaced scholars, providing assistance to 470 universities.
- The Hadhramout Foundation – The non-profit foundation actively collaborates with universities globally and offers scholarships for higher education in Yemen. It also conducts language training programs and provides technical and vocational training opportunities, ensuring Yemeni students receive a comprehensive education. The Hadhramout Foundation has more than 1,859 alumni in its alumni club.
- Al-Khair Foundation – This Yemeni non-profit organization actively focuses on social development efforts throughout Yemen. The foundation implements development programs that specifically target education, humanitarian response and the improvement of livelihoods. Through these initiatives, the foundation significantly contributes to reducing the cost of education in Yemen. One of its notable endeavors includes funding more than 850 grants for marginalized Yemeni students, enabling them to attend universities and prioritizing inclusivity and equal access to education.
- Lavazza Foundation – In 2016, the Lavazza Foundation established the “Scholarships for Education of Young Yemenis” project, aiming to provide 22 scholarships to Yemeni students. The foundation actively strives to eliminate socioeconomic barriers that hinder educational access, empowering deserving students to pursue their academic aspirations. The project ensures an equal distribution of 50% female and 50% male scholars. All students receive material assistance, job search training and access to professional opportunities.
- EducationUSA – EducationUSA actively promotes studying in the U.S. by offering opportunities and information about more than 4,000 U.S. universities on behalf of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Moreover, Amideast facilitates the EducationUSA Competitive College Club (CCC), a program designed for Yemeni high school students. The CCC assists students in navigating U.S. college applications, securing scholarships, and developing their academic and professional resumes. Notably, the program is free of charge.
The organizations mentioned above actively take steps to ease the financial burden on Yemeni students and guarantee access to education during the ongoing conflict. These organizations accomplished this through scholarships, temporary learning programs, academic placements and comprehensive educational initiatives, scoring significant progress in lowering the cost of higher education in Yemen. These efforts empower students, dismantle socioeconomic barriers and contribute to fostering a more educated and resilient Yemeni society.
– Clara Swart