literacy in yemen
Reading and writing are creative processes in building new pathways to leadership, future college and career plans and community programming. While some nations might make this a priority, Yemen’s focus is not currently to encourage literacy among the educational system.

Issues with Education in Yemen

As of 2017, 4.5 million students did not receive schooling due to absent teachers. Teachers in Yemen are on strike for not receiving payment for their services to the community. No school in session means unproductive minds and no practice with literacy.

Due to progressing conflict in Yemen, educational access and literacy efforts are not a top priority for many. There are approximately 18.8 million people in need of humanitarian aid, which is roughly 69 percent of the population.

The priority aid in Yemen consists of protection, as three million people have been displaced from their homes and approximately 44,000 people have been severely injured or killed. Other priorities focus on basic survival such as food, shelter and healthcare. Restriction on imports, economic decline and inflation among markets is making it extremely difficult for civilians to afford anything, much less education.

Encouraging Literacy in Yemen

As of 2017, UNICEF is a major partner in developing and implementing strategic plans for the ministry of education in Yemen. UNICEF is using a systemic approach to achieve educational goals. The framework consists of support from policy and legislation, ministry leadership, funding and public demand followed by implementation within the pre-primary sector and focusing on curriculum for early learning.

It is important to develop plans for early learning that empower literacy among Yemeni children and youth, as they are the future of the nation. The top three reasons to encourage literacy in Yemen are:

  1. Personal Empowerment
  2. Employability
  3. Active Citizenship

Why Literacy is Important

Reading, writing and learning involve creative and critical thinking as well as problem solving. Literacy encourages better communication, self-management, resiliency, participation, empathy, respect for others, cooperation, decision making and negotiation—all of which are necessary life skills.

There has been a 10 percent increase in literacy over the past 20 years, jumping from 60.22 percent to 70.1 percent. However, areas with high conflict, such as Yemen, have greater potential to fall behind.

With an increasing drop out rate in the education system and high conflict causing other basic needs to take priority, it is easy for literacy to get lost in Yemen. Continued work can ensure a bright future ahead for families in Yemen, but a political focus on education and literacy in Yemen must be made a top priority.

– Ashley Cooper
Photo: Flickr

Yemen, a small Middle Eastern nation southwest of Saudi Arabia, has embarked on an ambitious goal in the past decade and a half to drastically reform its education system. As part of the 2000 UN Millennium Development Goal project launched nearly 15 years ago, Yemen set a goal of reaching 100 percent primary school enrollment by 2015.

As 2014 draws to a close, it appears that Yemen will not be meeting its Millennium Development education goal by next year. However, statistics indicate significant progress has been made in recent years, though more attention is needed to bring education in Yemen up to par with other developed nations. According to the World Bank, Yemen’s net primary school enrollment rate stood at 86 percent in 2013, the last year data was made available. These numbers are up from 66 percent in 2001.

Educational improvements may in part be attributed to the implementation of several ambitious educational reform projects. One such project, the Secondary Education Development and Girls Access Project (SEDGAP), was launched in 2007 with the goal of addressing three main areas of the Yemeni education system: “improving equity and reducing gender gaps, enhancing the quality of service delivery, and project management and monitoring.”

To help reduce educational gender gaps, SEDGAP imposed a minimum 15 percent female representation requirement in new teaching posts. As of 2008, only 7.5 percent of secondary school teachers in rural areas were female. Anecdotal evidence has suggested that hiring female teachers attracts greater female enrollment rates. According to the International Development Association (IDA), this may be due in part to the fact that Yemeni parents tend to object to male instructors teaching their daughters, particularly in higher grades.

Other material and social factors such as lack of transportation, poor school facilities and early marriage have also been significant contributors to the educational gender gap. These material factors appear to disproportionately affect girls living in rural areas.

SEDGAP has introduced a variety of other reforms to improve service delivery and monitoring. Some of these reforms include new guidelines aimed to balance out uneven student-teacher ratios across rural and urban schools, more consistent oversight of teacher absenteeism and salaries, textbook revisions for grades 1-12, and new oversight regulations for Yemen’s three public educational ministries.

SEDGAP implementation will be completed in late January 2015. A February 2014 impartial review of the project concluded moderate satisfaction in meeting progress development objectives.

World Bank data indicates gross enrollment rates for basic, secondary and tertiary education have increased overall for Yemeni boys and girls. Nevertheless, more time is needed to meet Millennium Development education goals, particularly for secondary education targets among females. According to the United Nation Development Programme, only 7.6 percent of Yemeni females age 25 and over have at least some secondary education.

– Katrina Beedy

Sources: World Bank 1, World Bank 2, World Bank 3, World Bank 4, World Bank 5 
Photo: National Yemen