Schools in Yemen have seen a poor footfall during the start of new session, amid ongoing violence in the country, waged by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) one side and Iran-backed Houthis on the other. According to a UNICEF report, 2 million children are not attending the school and the remaining are at a verge of dropping out, following a bloody conflict since 2015.
The future of another 3.7 million children, who aspire to attend the school despite unrest, is now uncertain as teachers haven’t received salaries since two years.
“Conflict, underdevelopment and poverty have deprived millions of children in Yemen of their right to education – and of their hope for a brighter future,” said Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UNICEF Representative in Yemen.
Nyanti also added that violence, displacement and deadly attacks on schools have kept children away from school. “With teacher salaries going unpaid for over two years, education quality is also at stake,” said Nyanti.
Yemen war started almost four years ago, and till date all the warring parties have failed to come to terms with each other. Indiscriminate bombing by Saudi Arabia, UAE and Houthi rebels have killed and displaced thousands. This has ruined Yemen’s education system pushing the country several years back on the development track.
One in five schools in Yemen are not fit to be used as a direct consequence of the war.
Uneducated children, especially those who do not have an access to school, become more vulnerable to risks of exploitation and abuse.
“Children out of school face increased risks of all forms of exploitation including being forced to join the fighting, child labour and early marriage. They lose the opportunity to develop and grow in a caring and stimulating environment, ultimately becoming trapped in a life of poverty and hardship,” Nyanti further added.
Attacks on schools and other education facilities must be stopped to protect children and teachers. Airstrikes carried out by Saudi-led coalition, including UAE, have become a serious concern. Both the coalition and Houthi rebels have breached International Humanitarian Law during the Yemen war.
International education authorities should work together to provide the country with an immediate solution to release delayed salaries of teachers and education personnel and remove all roadblocks in the path of learning of Yemeni children.