Women Education: alarming statistics [Archives:2004/767/Culture]

August 26 2004

Hassan Al-Zaidi
The third set of secondary school results, announced recently by the Ministry of Education for the year 2003-2004, show that the problem of girl's education still persists.
Education is less accessible to women despite the fact that they account for the greatest portion of society (50.5% of the Yemeni population are female). According to the statistics of the population census, figures indicate that only 32.8% of elementary school students are girls, which opens up an almost insurmountable gap between the two sexes.
Further statistics inform us of the gravity of the problems faced by Yemeni women in the realm of educational. Yemen forms a community rampant with social, cultural and humanitarian obstacles to women's education.
Referring to the results of a survey conducted in 1999 to assess the rate of students joining schools against the number of youngsters eligible to go to school, only 58.58% of school-age youngsters go to school, in comparison to 43% in 1981. That is to say nearly 20 years has not done much to raise the rate of school-attending children.
Figures reveal that rate of illiteracy among females reached 74% in 2001 in comparison to 44% for males.
Through examining the figures, we find many reasons behind women's educational deprivation.
Dr. Fathiah Mohammed, Secretary General of the Higher Motherhood and Childhood Council, says that early marriage is one of the main factors that causes the removal of girls from education. “due to its biological and psychological responsibilities, as well as the social pressures, early marriage makes girls opt out of school” said she.
Among other factors are old-fashioned social conventions such as the family's unwillingness to allow daughters to continue education. There is also lack of single sex girls schools, high costs of education, and a lack of provincial universities.
These factors, and many others, restrict the opportunities that girls have to get an education.

Women and university education
Researcher Ahmed Salem said indications show that, examining the educational stages, women's chances decrease gradually as we go upward. Women form just 23.6% of university students, while higher studies host about 148 females compared with 500 males.
This low number of females is proportionate to the limited number of training opportunities for female teachers at the elementary education stage. There are only 3066 female teachers in comparison with 117,841 males.
In universities, there are only 167 female teachers, that is, 6.2 percent of the total number of the staff, which amounts to 2689 teachers.
Figures show clearly the deprivation of women. Some 34% of school-age children do not join schools due to their family's unwillingness (87% of which are girls); 24% do not join schools due to their family's inability to pay educational costs (66% of which are girls); 13.5% do not study because of the lack of a nearby school (of which 50% are girls); 10.3% do not join school because of difficulty involved in reaching the school (61% of which are girls); 2.2% because they help their families (73% of which are girls); 1.3% because of illness of disability (66.6% of which are girls); and 1.3% because of a disinterest in education (50% of which are girls).
The statistics show clearly why children do not join schools, and the appalling ratio that 71% of them are girls. The figures reflect the problem and its complications. The current condition will give birth to a generation of uneducated and illiterate women, in a society that aspires to deal with cutting edge technology. So, what is our fate, and what is the solution?