By Asma Al-Mohattwari
One of the rights granted to women in Islam is the right of education. Muslim women have to learn and live up to improve her part in building society.Girls’ education is a safety valve for future generations. Girls’ education is a religious and national duty imposed by belonging to this nation and as some people said if you educated a man, you educated a single and if you educated a woman, you educated the whole society.
The illiteracy ratio of women in Yemen is 60% which is a very high percentage. “One of the most important women’s rights is Education. Women should be educated to improve their role in building the society. Unfortunately the education percentage in the last ten years rose only to 5%” Ramzia Al-Eriani the head of Yemen women union said.
UNICEF reported that the percentage of illiteracy among rural women mounts to 62 percent while the percentage in urban areas is 54 percent. In most cities, the rate of school enrollment among girls is higher than boys. However, the percentage of girls’ enrollments in rural areas is low, especially in secondary schools. The matter is more appealing in Yemen’s remoter areas and provinces where there are very few or no girls enrolled in primary schools, let alone secondary school.
Illiteracy in Yemen is very high because of leakage phenomenon of girls from the school especially in the rural area, which has become a major problem facing most of the girls’ schools. This phenomenon attributed to economical, social and educational reasons.
The most important economical reason is related to the need of girl’s work in the field, instead of looking for workers earning money for their work as well as low income of families and their inability to bear with the financial burden of education tuition and the price of books and the requirements of the study imposed by the school, so families simply send a male and keep the female in the house. “I wish I could go to school. We are poor and I should work in the field” said 14 years old Salma Hashem.
Additionally, the educational reasons like the far distance between the school and the location of the house, especially in rural areas leading the families to prevent sending their daughters to school, as well as location of schools in areas that are crowded with people such as markets, so families refuse to let their daughters pass this crowd to get to school. Also the lack of the female teachers, so families refuse the male teachers .That has led to girls dropping out of schools, especially in light of the lack of especial schools for girls.
Bushra 20 years old, married and has a child said that “I have finished elementary school, and then I stopped because the school is far away from our house. I want to continue my high school but this will happen only if a school is built in our village”.
Customs and traditions is one of the most common reasons which prevent girls going to school. Some families think that sending the girl out of the house is wrong socially. Also the early marriage is one of the reasons. Fathers prefer to marry their daughters instead of educate them. They assume that marriage is better than education for girls.
There are some recommendations posed by Dr. Ensaf Abdo Kassem in her book Awraq Yamania. She primarily focused on the development of community awareness to the importance of education. Also conduct extensive awareness-raising campaigns. Moreover there should be a political adoption of the girls’ education issue, and not to include the issue of girls ‘education within the educational system issues, but we should address it individually as a key issue requiring special programs to address it. Furthermore, improving the economic life of the families and improving the quality of education.