More than two million Yemeni children out of school [Archives:2007/1102/Front Page]

November 12 2007

Almigdad Dahesh Mojalli
SANA'A, Nov. 11 ) A recent report by ACCESS-MENA affirmed that more than two million school-aged children In Yemen aren't in the education system.

It pointed out that more than 231,655 Yemeni children between the ages of 10 and 14 are working, according to the 1994 census, which indicated 51.7 percent of male children working and 48.3 percent of females. The report mentioned that those numbers have doubled, increasing at a rate of 3 percent, but noted that the figures don't include all children working in Yemen.

The report indicated that agriculture and fishing are the main child labor fields. It also found that the private sector contains the overwhelming majority of working children, with 98.3 percent.

It further pointed out that 82.9 percent of working children work for their families, while only 17.1 percent work outside.

The ACCESS-MENA report noted that the most prominent result of child labor is school dropouts, where only 45 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 15 are in school.

The report, which was issued in June 2007, revealed that the increasing cycle of poverty and unemployment, economic and social problems and the 1990 Gulf War are the main reasons for child labor and school dropouts in Yemen.

Finally, it complained about the shortage of studies on child labor in Yemen; however, the Central Census Authority intends to launch a field census in January to determine the number of working children.

Community, Habitat and Finance, International ACCESS-MENA program strives to prevent child labor across the Middle East and North Africa region by improving access to and the quality of basic education. Working children in many MENA countries suffer inadequate access to flexible and appropriate education opportunities, thus putting them at risk for exploitive labor that may impede their continuation in formal education systems.

The organization works in an average of 30 countries each year, promoting democratic principles to effectively build, strengthen and promote change within local institutions and communities and shape policy decisions that recognize and support the world's most vulnerable populations.

The program targets providing remedial and vocational education to 7,500 Lebanese and Yemeni working and at-risk children. It also seeks to disseminate lessons learned and best practices in these two interventions, as well as other similar programs globally among all countries in the MENA region.

Further, it aims to raise stakeholders' awareness and build the capacities of local NGOs in six to 14 MENA countries regarding the link between quality education and reducing the worst forms of child labor.

“Our $8 million project, financed by the U.S. Labor Department, is for four years; we started in August 2004 and will finish in August 2008. Its main goal is to reduce child labor.” Said Elizabeth Zonneveld, regional director of CHF (Child labor through Education and Sustainable Services in the Middle East and North Africa) project, who Concluded her visit to Yemen last Thursday, Elizabeth Zonneveld, regional director of the project, explained concluded her visit to Yemen last Thursday.

Nicole Abu-Haydar, a manger in CCESS-MENA organization said that this is the fourth visit to Yemen to view the project in the region. “We attempted to find those children who aren't in school and get them back into their schools. Working with NGOs, authorities and governmental authorities, we told them about the project, seeking to exchange expertise and information. We then held a two-day workshop, involving approximately 25 attendees representing various organizations and authorities, wherein we explained the nature of the project's mission and the link between education and child labor.”

She adds, “The ACCESS-MENA program offers the child an alternative to working. We don't give the children or their families money; rather, we seek to make a fertile environment for children to study and leave their work by spreading public awareness via schools and workshops.”