By Fuad Hazaea, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sa’ada College is the only higher education institute in Sa’ada Governorate. The college had been operating with a modest infrastructure, providing undergraduate education to more than 5,200 students from inside and outside the governorate. However, the college was turned into a pile of twisted metal and broken concrete slabs during the ongoing conflict in Yemen since March 2015.
Approaching the vicinity of the college, you can see the destruction everywhere. A blend of concrete materials, books and equipment are scattered all over the facility yard. The college’s study halls, buildings and mosque are either completely destroyed or severely damaged. There are no signs of life there. Only one guard living in a small room within the college walls, fearing for his life. The place became another cemetery, which Sa’ada is well-known with.
The College has to close its doors for one year and a half due to lack of accommodation and fears of attacks. The undamaged building of some primary and secondary schools in the governorate are now used as alternative and temporary study halls. However, the space is not enough for everyone. Some students have to sit on the ground, out of fear to miss another year of their academic journey.
The issue is more complicated for science majors. All labs in the college were destroyed, including four computer labs used by around 400 students of computer science. The college has adapted a temporary solution, where the students are now rotating on the use of two computer labs in other government facilities. Operating these labs were made possible with a solar support from UNDP Yemen as the country has been experiencing a complete power outage since the beginning of the conflict.
Moreover, the college also faces significant challenges. The shortage of financial resources is impeding the college from resuming its services, building new study halls, rehabilitating its partially damaged buildings and purchasing the necessary equipment. Sooner or later, the conflict in Yemen will come to an end. However, the students of Sa’ada College will not be able to return back and resume their education unless their college is completely rehabilitated.
While education is an essential human right, the ongoing conflict has caused significant damage to the country’s education system. According to the humanitarian actors in the country, 1.8 million children- which accounts for more than a third of the school age population- have had their education interrupted. The United Nations also says that more than 1,100 schools have been closed, either by direct damage or because they are being occupied by displaced people.
As the conflict continues unabated in Yemen, there is an urgent need to assist the country to establish and provide the minimum proper environment for continued education. Education is very critical to solve issues such as poverty, conflict, unemployment and inequality, which are widespread in Yemen and were significantly exacerbated by the ongoing conflict. To ensure accelerated development in the post conflict era, the country will require a long-term strategy and greater support.