Expansion and coordination in the development of education [Archives:2004/741/Culture]

May 27 2004

By Peter Willems
Yemen Times Staff

The expansion of basic education by building more schools has picked up the pace so far this year.
According to Minister of Education Abdulsalam Al-Joufi, up to 600 schools constructed since the year began are up and running, mostly in rural areas.
“Six hundred new schools for basic education have been introduced this year, which averages 1.7 new schools per day,” said Al-Joufi.
He added that since many of the schools are in remote areas, some are small in size, but the total of new classrooms has come out to be more than 2000.
The World Bank, which has been heavily involved in working with the Yemeni government to improve the education system, was responsible for putting in new schools.
The plan for expansion aimed at targeting areas suffering from poverty and where girls have been lacking education.
“These schools were built in the most needy areas,” said Al-Joufi. “We chose places based on poverty and enrollment, mostly the enrollment of girls.”
According to the latest report from the US State Department, 67.5% of women in Yemen were illiterate in 2002. The World Bank has calculated that only 39% of school-age girls are enrolled in primary school to get a basic education.
The government's plan to improve education is based on the National Strategy for the Development of Basic Education, which is to be implemented between 2003 and 2015. But until recently, there have been complaints that the Yemeni government, donor countries and organizations were not working well together and communication between different groups was below par.
The Ministry of Education, however, has taken steps to organize and coordinate action taken to develop basic education. One important step was the signing of the Partnership Declaration between the Government of Yemen and the donors.
“Before, all the donors used to work separately without any coordination or passing on information,” said Al-Joufi. “The aim of the declaration is to create harmony between the donors. We have very limited resources, and we want to use the resources in a proper way, in the most deserved provinces and for all the people. This cannot be done without coordinating the process correctly.”
The Ministry has also developed a better way to locate the areas in Yemen that need more attention.
“We can now identify provinces that are not served from the government or the donors,” said Al-Joufi. “It is easy for us now to identify the areas in need and what needs to be worked on. It also makes it easier to ask new donors to come and work in these areas.”
A new steering committee has also been established. It meets monthly and the members discuss any problems that arise, new potential donors, and plans for the future.
The Ministry is also creating a new database and will have a webpage that will give donor countries and organizations easy access to the development of education in Yemen.
“Our webpage will show all the donors where they are working, what kind of projects they are doing, how long it will take, how many students are involved, and so forth,” said Al-Joufi. “If there are any new donors that want to come, we will pass on important information, let them know what components we have, which province we want them to work in and give them choices within limits. They used to come and decide what area to work in, and sometimes the area of the project wasn't in need or most needed. But now it is coordinated through the Ministry of Education which should show better results.”