As the conflict in the country escalates further, the situation of children affected by grave child rights violations has considerably deteriorated with many children either maimed or killed.
The recent bombing and increased street fighting in Yemen have resulted in more children dying in the past few days than in the whole of 2014. At least 62 children have been killed and 30 maimed as a result of the escalation in conflict since 26 March 15.
Preliminary estimates from the field indicate that over 1 million children are unable to go to school as their schools are either closed or are in areas close to military targets. These are all preliminary figures and UNICEF is in the process of verifying numbers on a daily basis.
Download the latest UNICEF flash report here: https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/yemen-flash-report-recent-escalation-conflict-1-april-2015
In the last 30 years coverage and enrolment have increased remarkably, but Yemen is among the countries with the lowest gross enrollment ratio.
Some 1.2 million primary aged children are out of school (30%), along with 402,284 lower secondary aged children (22%). A further 401,544 pre-primary school aged children are also out of school (92%).
Dropout rates at the primary level are 16% and 11% at lower secondary.
At particular risk of being excluded from school are: girls, children in rural areas, poor children and children with uneducated parents.
BARRIERS AND BOTTLENECKS
Child labour affects 21% of out-of-school children aged 6 to 13. These are mostly unpaid or family workers.
In conflict areas, schools have been destroyed or occupied by armed forces, teachers and pupils cannot get to class and teaching hours are often reduced.
Al-Muhamasheen minority children face poverty as well as discrimination and abuse at school.
Disabled children are sometimes refused access to school, due to shortages in teaching facilities, learning materials and staff. According to the 2005 Household Budget survey, 41% of disabled children are out of school.
Capacity is often lacking. This includes government institutions, inadequately qualified professionals and a poor education management information system.
Malnutrition and stunting, which affect almost 50% of children, result in low grades, repetition and dropout.
Social attitudes often undervalue education. At the same time, traditional support for early marriage and child labour also lead to dropout.
Poverty is a major cause of children being excluded from school.
Difficult terrain, limited infrastructure and dispersed populations make it hard for children to get to school.
Educational quality is often low. A recent USAID study found that most Grade 3 students are illiterate.
Poor management and limited human capacity, including a lack of qualified teachers – especially female teachers – and monitoring mechanisms, and an overly bureaucratic approach to providing education and certification for both students and teachers.
High population growth makes it difficult to absorb annual increases in new students.
POLICIES AND STRATEGIES
The National Basic Education Development Strategy (NBEDS, 2003–2015) aims to increase enrolment in basic education, particularly for girls and in rural areas.
The Ministry of Education has invested in quality education by training teachers and school principals in administration and management, establishing father and mother councils, developing new curricula and providing social counselling. However, there has been no effort to measure the impact of these inputs on student performance and it is quite possible that they have had little effect.
The National Basic Education Strategy (NBEDS) has no specific policies or strategies targeting out-of-school children. In addition, if children drop out of school, it is difficult for them to re-enrol because the system lacks support mechanisms to help them catch up.
However, the MOE has developed policies/strategies that indirectly address out of school children, including abolishing school fees, offering conditional cash transfers and school grants, providing free school kits and food rations, and raising awareness. It has also established a committee to plan and supervise education emergency services.
- Establish a higher council for basic education similar to the Higher Council for Motherhood and Childhood (HCMC) and/or collaborate with different sectors, responsible ministries, development partners, NGOs and others on programmes and activities that target exclusionary factors.
- Conduct campaigns at different levels to foster support for education.
- Abolish school fees in poor areas and prohibit schools from substituting other fees.
- Support the return of out-of-school children to class, for example through remedial lessons.
- Strengthen the institutional capacity of the MOE and change its focus to bringing children into school and keeping them there.
- Improve data collection at the MOE, the school level and nationally.
- Improve teacher training.
- Make better use of limited resources by focussing on learning outcomes, not inputs to the school system.
- Find ways to involve more female teachers.
- Involve parents and communities in supporting schools.
- Focus on the most vulnerable children.
- Improve educational quality, for example through revising the curriculum, ensuring it is taught in all areas and reducing teacher absenteeism.