Girls’ education in YemenA steady deterioration [Archives:2003/696/Local News]

December 22 2003

By Mohammad Bin Sallam
Yemen Times

The Deputy Minister of Education, Dr. Abdulaziz Bin Habtour, declared in a press conference on Sunday, 14/12/2003 that the girls” attendance in schools deteriorated lately to all-time low. Statistics show the male attendance in metropolitan areas is at 55.3%, while female attendance is at 44.7. In rural areas, however, male attendance is at 70.7%, and female attendance is at 29.3%.
Dr. Habtour considered the decline as a result of financial difficulties which most Yemenis experience, especially in rural areas where girls leave schools after they reach fourth or fifth grades. He blamed the low family incomes, and lack of appropriate school supplies and equipment. Some families send their daughters to work in fields and spend the little funds they have on educating their sons. Dr. Habtour said that some of the problems are teachers who are under- qualified, decentralization, and funds for education. On the other hand, Mr. Ramish Serena, UNICEF Representative in Yemen, said that the U. N. celebrates the completion of its yearly report on children, and every year it chooses a different topic relating to children. This year, it has chosen girls” education as the topic for its report. The UNICEF representative added: “We still have issues relating to the continuing discrimination against female enrollments in schools. He called on Yemen to re-evaluate and enhance policies governing the distribution of education resources. Mr. Serena, also, called on development organizations, Local Councils, families, and society in general to tackle the challenge of girls” education. He identified a number of quality points which would help resolve the issue of girls” education which encourage the inclusion of girls” education in the National Development Strategy, waiving school fees, merging basic education with National Strategy for the Eradication of Poverty, and increasing international assistance for education. Girls in Sana”a encountered serious challenges during the current school year where hundreds of girls were forced out of their schools under the pretence of allocating special schools for girls. An example of this is what happened at Jooriah bin Al-Hareth Secondary School for Girls, which forced 750 girls out of the school. Most of those girls were not allowed to continue despite parents” appeals to the Mayor of Sana”a who is alleged to have been behind this move. The Minister of Education did not do anything to reverse this move either.