Giving More Girls the Chance to Learn in Yemen

Success stories: how GPE adds value in partner countries

Credit: World Bank/Bill Lyons

This blog post is part of a series of GPE country results stories. The stories highlight the value that the Global Partnership for Education brings to its developing country partners. In each country, the partnership tailors its support to the specific education sector needs. The value of the Global Partnership is how it engages with all education partners in a country to prepare sound education sector plans which are then funded by GPE and other partners.

Like many girls in rural Yemen, Raysa Al-Kholani was married off early—in Grade 7—and faced long odds in continuing her studies. Her in-laws insisted she stay home and care for a family of what would become nine children, but she had other ideas: she enlisted her husband’s support to return to school.

I had to take my children with me every day to the school walking almost 8 kilometers,” she recalled. “Many girls in my community rejected my friendship because I was studying with boys.

She persevered, eventually landing work as a volunteer teacher after completing her studies.

When I joined the school, the number of girls was only 10 but after two years, the number of girls went up to 95. My role now is not only teaching but also advocating for girls’ education.

Raysa gives hope to Yemeni girls as one of a pioneering group of teachers trained by the government to work in rural areas, where a lack of female teachers contributes to low enrollment and low retention of girls in schools.

She is one of many who benefited from the education strategy developed by the Yemeni government and implemented with the support of its education partners, including with additional financial support from the Global Partnership for Education.

Yemen Implements a Well-Targeted Education Plan

In 2002, the Government of Yemen developed the National Basic Education Development Strategy 2003-2015 to improve equitable access to, and quality of, basic education. Yemen became a GPE partner in 2003, and has since received four consecutive grants totaling $122.4 million.

The support contributed to increased access to primary schools, especially for girls, thanks to the construction of new classrooms and the rehabilitation of existing classrooms and school infrastructure in seven governorates.

To improve the enrollment and retention of primary school students, about 1,500 female teachers received training and contractual fees. Furthermore about 900,000 school materials kits were distributed to students in Grades 1 to 6.

Result: More Girls Can Attend School

Yemen has made great strides in improving girls’ enrollment in basic education over the past decade, from 41% in 1999 to 73% in 2011. However the country is still far from achieving equitable access to education with a gender gap index of 0.84 in primary school (2011).

The Government and GPE partners continue to work to increase girls’ participation in school, blending innovative and traditional approaches:

  • Constructing new schools in rural areas, and placing schools closer to girls’ homes thanks to a school mapping exercise
  • Launching girls’ education campaigns through local media and traditional leaders
  • Encouraging women teachers to work in rural areas by giving them adequate support
  • Eliminating tuition fees to defray the costs of schooling for families
  • Providing girls with clothes, notebooks, pens and bags to help them attend school with confidence
  • Developing strategies to help young girls travel to school safely and monitor their participation.

In May 2013, Yemen received another GPE grant for $82.6 million, which builds on the previous achievements. The GPE grant continues to support improved, equitable access to education for girls and other education reform activities.

Raysa’s story is courtesy of the World Bank.

Middle East and North Africa: Yemen


The Global Partnership for Education Secretariat is headquartered in Washington DC and has approximately 100 staff. The Secretariat provides administrative and operational support to all its partners including...

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