“We believe that education is life and the only way to develop tolerance in the society. When schools reopened in Yemen, it felt as if life had come back”
- Mr. AbdulKareem Al-Jindari, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Education, Yemen
Good news from Yemen!
This is a headline you likely haven’t seen in the papers recently. What’s the good news? It’s that 90% of schools in the country are open despite the ongoing conflict that has impacted 80% of the population.
This information was shared by AbdulKareem Al-Jindari, the Deputy Minister of Education of Yemen, during the recent local education group (LEG) meeting held in Amman, Jordan.
The conflict has not dampened Yemen’s commitment to education
The ongoing conflict in the country has had a deep impact on the social and economic fabric of the society, but it has not impacted the strong resolve of ministry staff and development partners who work to support it.
Civil service employees of the ministry of education even donated one-day salaries to ensure that examinations could take place throughout the country for grades 9 and 12. The ministry negotiated with the Arab Alliance and the rebel group to ensure that no fighting or bombing would take place during the examination period.
Resuming classes despite the conflict
The ministry was able to secure loans from commercial banks to print textbooks. Similarly, at the community level, ministry officials worked with communities and internally displaced populations (IPDs) to vacate schools and allow educational activities to resume.
An effective partnership to support education
During the meeting of the local education group, convened by GIZ, the German development agency which acts as GPE coordinating agency for Yemen, Mr. Al-Jindari reiterated his ministry’s commitment to work with both military and rebel forces in an effort to get them to vacate the schools they currently occupy.
UNICEF is the only agency on the ground and serves as the GPE grant agent supervising the implementation of the 72.6 million GPE grant. Other international development partners who support education in Yemen include USAID, World Bank, the German Development Bank (KfW), and civil society organizations such as Global Communities, Youth Leadership Development Foundation, NFDHR and British Yemeni Institute.
Building tent schools to allow children to come back to class
Recent estimates show that approximately 1,000 schools are completely or partially damaged due to the conflict, while about 200 others are occupied by IDPs and rebels. With funding from GPE and other donors, UNICEF has been able to support the education ministry at the national and sub-national level in establishing temporary learning spaces in tents. Where regular schools are damaged or occupied, these spaces allow IDP students to be accommodated.
In addition, GPE funding also enabled UNICEF and the ministry to purchase basic supplies like school bags, notebook, pens, pencils, erasers, chalk, blackboards and teaching and learning materials. These were essential to start the new academic year throughout the country.
A long-standing partnership between Yemen and GPE
Yemen has been a member of the Global Partnership for Education since 2002 and has received over US$120 million in GPE grants to support the implementation of its education plans.
The latest GPE grant of US$72.6 million supports Yemen’s Medium-Term Result Framework (MTRF) which helps improve access, quality, and equity in education. The goal is to ensure that all Yemeni children are able to enroll and complete a high-quality education that prepares them for the labor force.
US$ 9 million of the latest GPE grant were adjusted to support the ministry in its response to the emergency situation.
GPE support means education activities can continue
Thanks to this support, more than 90,000 children in affected areas receive learning supplies, 35,000 affected children receive psychosocial support and 150 schools are being refurbished.
During 2015, GPE support also allowed the ministry to continue work on the development of an Arabic curriculum for grades 2 to 6, and finalize textbooks for science and math for grades 2 and 3. In addition, an additional 2,300 female teachers were recruited to support girls’ education in remote regions. These teachers will be converted to regular civil servants after two years per national regulations.
During a meeting of the local education group, the deputy minister of education expressed his appreciation for the support provided by GPE through UNICEF. He commented that, “...there is no major external funding available for education in Yemen and GPE is the only ray of light we have.”
All photos courtesy of UNICEF Yemen