icon icon icon icon icon icon icon

Education for all

A woman wearing a black head covering

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains the worst in the world, driven by conflict and economic collapse. The resulting breakdown of public institutions has had a devastating toll on children’s education in Yemen. Only two- thirds of schools are currently functioning, leaving nearly one-third of all school-age children out of school even before COVID-19 closures. During the pandemic dropout rates escalated further as families struggled to deal with the economic consequences of coronavirus. In addition, educators working in 10,000 schools across the country have been doing their best to keep classrooms open even though they haven’t been paid for years. Here we shine a light on efforts to create an improved learning environment in difficult times for children in Aden and Lahj governorates in southern Yemen.

No child should be left behind

Many households in Yemen’s rural areas are averse to enrolling their daughters in co-educational schools as their customs and traditions prevent girls from studying alongside boys.

a young girl wearing a head scarf sitting at a desk
Ragad is a third-grade student from Lahj governorate

Samia* is a diligent 15-year-old student from Abyan governorate. Samia was the only female student among more than thirty boys in her classroom.

“Due to the lack of classrooms in my school, I was the only girl in a class full of boys,” she says. “I always felt odd, being the only girl in the class. Students tended to ignore me. I never felt comfortable and was afraid of speaking up in the class. I never felt like I fitted in. My parents used to tell me that education is for all, regardless of their gender. So I kept attending the classes despite the risky road and the lack of bathrooms and clean water inside the school.”

Like Samia, 11-year-old Ragad* from Lahj governorate yearned to finish her education. Ragad is the younger sister of two brothers. Her father works as a farmer and her mother is a housewife. “I previously dropped out of school because there weren’t any bathrooms. It was the saddest thing that happened to me ever.” 

The lack of sanitation facilities in schools forces many rural girls to drop out of education and remain illiterate. “I used to walk one hour back to my home whenever I needed to use the bathroom,” says Ragad. “Boys were lucky because they could relieve themselves in the open. So I decided to stop going to school, which made me gloomy.” 

A young boy smiling at a camera
Osama standing in front of his classroom in Lahj

Children have the right to feel safe and comfortable in school

“My classmates and I need to feel safe and comfortable,” says Osama*, a cheerful 15-year-old boy from Lahj. Osama studies in the ninth grade. Speaking about the school’s dilapidated old classrooms, Osama says: “I never felt safe when I was studying in that classroom; we were always worried about the potential of the roof collapsing over our heads. It was hard to focus on our lessons and our safety at the same time.”

Around two thousand schools in Yemen have been affected by the conflict, including schools that have been destroyed by airstrikes or shelling or affected by rains and floods, as well as schools that are occupied by displaced families. Most schools that are still functioning need support with educational supplies and furniture.

Children sitting on the floor in a classroom
Teacher Eman and her students studying in an unequipped classroom in Abyan

“Many schools were damaged when fighting broke out in the summer of 2015,” says Ahmed*, a school principal from Lahj. “Furthermore, families who were displaced from neighbouring villages use schools as shelters, so they are unfit for learning.”

Al Aman* school in Abyan governorate is the only school in the area. Difficult roads make it isolated and deprive its residents of access to basic services such as education, health and other services. The school was built by locals of the area as they worried about their children traveling long distances to study in neighbouring villages. “Al Aman school was built by the locals,” says Eman*, a teacher in the School. “They built four classrooms, but they couldn’t furnish it. The students suffered from insect bites and back pain due to the lack of desks and chairs.”

Kids sitting down on a desk in a classroom
Samia and her female classmates are glad to study in the newly constructed classroom

It’s cool to learn at our new school

Fortunately for students in Abyan and Lahj, with generous funding from the Yemen Humanitarian Fund (YHF), CARE intervened to construct classrooms, latrines, hand-washing stations and water tanks. The intervention also provided much-needed equipment such as desks, chairs and boards, along with necessary kits such as school bags, first-aid kits, hygiene kits, and various recreational kits.

Constructing new classrooms supplied with the necessary equipment tools creates a safe and stable learning environment for boys and girls and decreases dropout rates – especially for girls who are more likely to lose out on education. “I feel elated because of the new classrooms and the clean bathrooms in my school,” says Samia.  “Unlike in the past, I don’t feel lonely because many girls are enrolling in my school.”

“Finally, I got a chair to sit on and a desk to put my books on,” adds one student happily. “This means less pain and more concentration.”

Furthermore, supporting water, sanitation and hygiene in the schools helps preserve students’ dignity and health. “Thanks to CARE, my school now has suitable bathrooms supplied with water and soap,” says Ragad.  “Nowadays, I wake up early and proudly walk to the school with my two brothers.”

Gana* smiles after receiving her school bag
A young girl using the hand-washing station in a school in Lahj
Kids sitting on desks in a well organized room
Teacher Eman and her female students move to a new equid classroom

*Names have been changed to protect identities

Back to Top