National review reveals community needs to accelerate female education [Archives:2008/1150/Local News]

April 28 2008

SANA'A, April 27 ) A national review of program experiences in support of girls' education in Yemen was inaugurated on Monday. The review is the result of collaboration between the Ministry of Education (MoE), UNICEF and GTZ.

The review stems from the Girls' Education Sector's desire to avoid “reinventing the wheel”, repeating costly mistakes, and in general to ensure on a national scale the integration of the most proven and promising strategies to accelerate girls' education.

The review was conducted over a one year period aimed at providing the information base necessary to understand which strategies have been the most effective in improving the enrollment rates and quality of education of girls. In addition, the national review demonstrates best practice recommendations to the MoE and donors, based on lessons learned. It also offers donors as well as the different sectors of the MoE data which will support the adoption of highly effective strategies for girls' education. Aboudou Karimou Adjibade, UNICEF Representative, explained “This review comes at a critical time, as we are standing less than half way to reaching 2015 and meeting Yemen's commitment in ensuring universal primary education for all.” He further elaborated, “This review will guide us towards better utilization and integration of policies that we have all worked hard to put in place. We can now operationalize these important policy guidelines into our program interventions.”

The review highlighted that programs devoted exclusively to girls' education rarely exist, i.e., most programs that deal with girls' education issues and objectives do so by treating them as program sub-components within a broader mandate. Additionally, funding for the programs ranged from US $234,046 to $121,140,000.

Abdulaziz Bin Habtour, Deputy Minister of Education, commented, “Girls' education still represents a problem in Yemen.” He emphasized the importance of creating a girl-friendly environment to promote girls education. He also highlighted the significant implication of the review and the importance of translating its recommendations to actual procedures.

Moreover, the review indicated that Amran, Hodeidah and Abyan have been the recipients of the largest number of girls' education programs over the past ten years, while Dhamar, Raimah, Sa'ada and Al Jawf have received the fewest.

The review furthermore illustrated that programs mainly targeted rural girls, girls from poor families and girls who dropped out of school, while there were no programs targeting disabled girls and girls with low attendance.

In addition, the total number of programs addressing access and low enrollment accounted for 24 percent, while programs addressing drop-out and completion issues accounted for 19 percent and programs addressing quality and learning outcomes accounted for only 13 percent. Issues such as equality, relevance, and grade repetition had a lower percentage of focus in these programs.

The review reflected the opinion of community members. It was revealed that there was a positive impact of school fee abolition; however, most community members indicated that they still incurred other indirect school costs for different purposes. The community members also identified the availability of well-trained female teachers to be the key solution for increasing girls' enrollment as well as maintaining high retention rate.

Priorities identified by the communities to accelerate girls' education includes increasing female teachers, separate girls' schools, food aid, and increasing the involvement of the community in planning and supervising projects.

The national review concluded that it is vital to establish coordination among diverse and multi-sectoral girls' education programs, track budgets according to gender, use standard indicators to measure girls' education results, and set up a mechanism to accommodate emerging needs. The review also emphasized the importance of female teachers and incentive programs. In addition, it recommended ensuring a friendly school environment for girls and sustainability of girls' education programs.