A Step to Improve Education in Yemen

National Yemen

Elementary students

Asma al-Mohattwari

Yemeni Prime Minister Khalid Bahah has announced the year 2015 as a year of education in Yemen in an effort to support education. His announcement came at a very critical time where education is facing multi problems.

A report of human development indicators in Yemen revealed that there are two million children out the primary education, six million adults who do not have writing skills, and the education curriculum was found to be theoretical in nature.

In 2012, the UN issued a report, reviewed by the National Dialogue Conference, said Yemen has high rates among Arab countries of poverty, in addition to a high illiteracy rate, up to 62% of the total population.

Adult literacy and education data indicate that the number of students in literacy classes for the academic year 2011- 2012 was 151,843 and 113,177 for basic female training.

Abdullah Qabaty, Head of the Labor Department in the Educational Professionals Syndicate, said that these ratios are a disaster for the economic level of the country and when the education rate decreases while illiteracy increases, that will decrease economic income and hinder economic growth.

The Ministry of Education report said that there are 126 teachers without a university degree, 40,000 expatriate teachers, 661 schools without buildings, and 30,000 school directors with only a preparatory school certificate.

The Government of Yemen has made the development of the education system its top priority. The share of the budget dedicated to education has remained high during the past decade, averaging between 14 to 20% of the total government expenditure and as of 2000 it was 32.8%. The education expenditure was 9.6% of GDP in 2001. In the strategic vision for the next 25 years, the government has committed to bringing significant changes to the education system, thereby reducing illiteracy to less than 10% by 2025. Although Yemen’s government provides for universal, compulsory, free education for children ages six through 15, the U.S. Department of State reports that compulsory attendance is not enforced.

Yemen ranked 150 out of 177 in the 2006 Human Development Index and 121 out of 140 countries in the Gender Development Index (2006). It is also very likely that Yemen will not be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, despite increases in enrolment rates in the past few years.

In 2005, 81% of Yemen’s school-age population was enrolled in primary school; enrollment of the female population was 74%. Also in 2005, about 46% of the school-age population was enrolled in secondary school, including 30% of eligible females. The country is still struggling to provide the requisite infrastructure. School facilities and educational materials are of poor quality, classrooms are too few in number, and the teaching faculty is inadequate.

Bahah’s announcement brought back Yemenis’ hope of a professional education. Bahah stressed that the government will strive to provide full support to the Ministry of Education because education has become part of the path of nation building. “I wish for educational institutions free from smoking and Qat, which affects the education process.”

Bahah called to separate all educational institutions from political affiliations, stressing the need to neutralize education and to develop the talents of children in cultural, sport, and community activities.

“The immediate goal for us is to support education and make it available to all people in order to achieve the desired objectives of economic and social development, leading to the creation of the Yemeni citizen and enabling them to engage in the field of knowledge and creativity,” he added.