SANA’A/GENEVA, 4 Oct, 2016- As schools open this week in Yemen, UNICEF urges all parties to the conflict to protect schools.
Since the conflict escalated more than 18 months ago, attacks on school children, teachers and education infrastructure had a devastating impact on the country’s education system – and on the chances of millions of children to access learning.
“Children were killed on their way to school or while at school”, said UNICEF Yemen Representative, Julien Harneis. “Parties to the conflict should keep children and schools out of harm to give education a chance”, he added.
Due to violence and the closure of schools, more than 350,000 children were unable to resume their education in the past school year, bringing the total of out-of-school children in Yemen to over 2 million. “Children who are out of school are at risk of recruitment to fight”, said Mr. Harneis.
Since the conflict escalated in March 2015, the United Nations has verified that 1,210 children, some as young as eight years old were recruited to fight.
UNICEF estimates that 2,108 schools across the country can no longer be used. They were destroyed or damaged, host internally displaced families or being used for military purposes.
UNICEF is supporting the Back-to-School campaign to provide children with a learning opportunity. This includes the renovation of nearly 700 damaged schools and provision of school furniture, stationery and school bags. Teachers are receiving training on psychosocial support to help students cope with the horrors of the conflict.
“Where schools have been damaged, we are renovating and providing tents to serve as temporary classrooms so that children can learn”, Mr. Harneis said.
In the past year and a half, UNICEF has reached over 575,000 school children with education material and psychosocial support and has worked with partners to support over 600,000 students in grade 9 and 12 to take their exams.
UNICEF is asking for $US 34 million for the construction and rehabilitation of damaged schools, provision of teaching and learning resources, training of teachers and community workers to provide psychosocial support, and to carry out the Back-to-School campaign.