70 steps towards a more resilient education system in Yemen

July 9, 2024

A school student during a class at one of the schools rehabilitated by local authorities in Aden with support from the SIERY Project.

UNDP Yemen / 2024

School-aged children in Yemen represent nearly 33 percent of the overall population. Over two-thirds of these children live in hard-to-reach areas, curtailing their access to educational institutions. According to recent reports, approximately 4.5 million Yemeni children did not attend school in 2023, while 2,426 schools have sustained damage or are not functioning due to use for shelter or non-educational purposes. The longer students disengage from education, the more difficult it is to make up for the learning loss, with impacts experienced across communities. 

Nine years into conflict in Yemen, displaced children and youth remain among the most vulnerable to education disruptions, with around 1.3 million coping with overcrowded classrooms and overburdened teachers. In times of crisis and displacement, education plays a pivotal role in providing a sense of stability and normalcy for children and young people. Ensuring Internally Displaced Persons’ access to quality education is a prerequisite for recovery and peace.

School students playing during recess at one of the schools rehabilitated by local authorities in Aden with support from the SIERY Project.

UNDP Yemen / 2024

Teachers are also on the frontline of this crisis. Overcrowded classrooms and limited access to professional development opportunities hinder their ability to exercise their profession. If the challenges that teachers face persist, losing them from the profession would have a devastating impact to the realization of Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality and Inclusive Education for All. 

A teacher delivering a class at one of the schools rehabilitated by local authorities in Aden with support from the SIERY Project.

UNDP Yemen / 2024

Education is a right and a critical lifeline for millions in Yemen. Investing in it is imperative to ensuring recovery, economic growth, social cohesion and resilient institutions. Quality education offers communities a ladder out of poverty and a sense of agency, both equally essential to advancing peace and development solutions.

How local authorities are responding to the challenges

Education plays an important part in fostering resilient societies; therefore, to shape sustainable futures, education itself must be resilient to change and crises. With support from the Strengthening Institutional and Economic Resilience in Yemen (SIERY) Project, funded by the European Union, local authorities are restoring the provision of education in Yemen, which has been severely impacted by protracted crisis. This includes the renovation and addition of classrooms and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities, as well as the rehabilitation and provision of furniture and solar energy systems to over 70 educational institutions across Yemen with a focus on places of education for girls and young women, thereby facilitating access to education and enhancing the learning and teaching experience for hundreds of thousands of students and teachers.

Primary and Secondary Schools 

“We noticed a decline in dropout rates and increased motivation and positive attitudes among our students since the installation of the solar power system,” said Hala, Principal of Khawla Bint Al-Azwar Primary and Secondary School, one of 21 schools that have been supported with the installation of solar power systems in Hadhramaut.

Principal Hala sitting at her desk at Khawla Bint Al-Azwar School.

UNDP Yemen / 2024

Khawla Bint Al-Azwar School is a place of education for around 1,500 girls and young women, including a number with disabilities. Due to its limited classrooms and capacity, the school operates in two shifts, one in the morning and another in the evening.

“Since the installation of the solar power system, we are able to prolong the time students and teachers stay in the classroom, especially during evening shifts.”

Located in Mukalla, Hadhramaut, on the coast of the Arabian Sea, education personnel and students of Khawla Bint Al-Azwar School had no option but to endure overcrowded, heated, and humid classrooms, especially during summertime, with limited to no electricity.

“The classrooms are now cooler; students and teachers are more focused. Adequate learning environments lead to better education outcomes,” added Principal Hala.

“We can also now organize extracurricular activities for our students, which makes them more excited to come to school and improves their overall performance,” remarked Principal Hala. Indeed, studies have demonstrated that activities outside classrooms can help students learn new skills and boost their academic performance.

Sawsan instructing an English Language class at Khawla Bint Al-Azwar School.

UNDP Yemen / 2024

“I am now able to use the computer for comprehension and listening exercises. Having electricity at the school has helped me deliver my classes and ensure that my students receive the quality of education they deserve,” shared Sawsan, an English language teacher at the school.

Adequate education infrastructure affects not only students’ well-being but also that of their teachers. Recent data has revealed that young people are deterred from teaching as a profession due to the decline in teachers’ working conditions. Unless conditions for teachers are enhanced, the promise of education will remain out of reach for those who need it most.

Fayza in the Khawla Bint Al-Azwar School courtyard.

UNDP Yemen / 2024

“I now have a better working environment. I perform better, I am less tired, and have more retention,” added Fayza, a math and religion teacher at Khawla Bint Al-Azwar School. 

Tertiary education  

Central to the SIERY Project’s promotion of Sustainable Development Goal 4 is its support for local authorities’ initiatives in promoting higher education.

In Tarim, local authorities identified the need to rehabilitate, equip and furnish the district’s branch of the National Health Institute to facilitate access to higher education opportunities for young people. With support from the SIERY Project, local authorities were able to translate their goal into reality. Today, the education complex offers healthcare courses like nursing and midwifery to around 60 young women and men from across the district.

Aisha preforming CPR in one of the classrooms of the Tarim Health Institute rehabilitated and equipped by local authorities with support from the SIERY Project.

UNDP Yemen / 2024

“I was motivated to study here because the institute is close to where I live. Before, we had to go to Seiyun University to pursue a higher education degree. More women are now able to obtain higher education degrees because of this campus,” shared Aisha, a 19-year-old midwifery student.

Sumaya, a physiotherapist and a teacher at the institute, explained, “I am from Tarim, but to obtain my degree a few years ago, I had to leave home at 6 a.m. to get to my classes in Seiyun and return at around 4 p.m., which was hard as a new mother. Convincing my family to let me make this daily trip was not easy either.”

Sumaya getting paperwork done in her office at Tarim Health Institute.

UNDP Yemen / 2024

While the trip from Tarim to Sieyun is merely a forty-minute drive, poor infrastructure, road closures and security issues make movement challenging. "Having this institute here now means that more young people, especially women, have access to education. It benefits our society,”" adds Sumaya.

A local man looking at the progress made during a road paving initiative in Tarim conducted by the local authorities with support from the SIERY Project.

UNDP Yemen / 2024

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges

Young TVET students at Al-Qaten Education Complex.

UNDP Yemen / 2024

Technical and Vocational Training and Education (TVET) is key to addressing one of the greatest challenges for young people in Yemen: unemployment. Equipping TVET colleges with the necessary tools and equipment ensures young people’s empowerment, productive employment, and facilitates their transition into today’s workforce. With support from the SIERY Project, Al-Qatn's local authorities equipped Al-Qatn's Academic Complex with furniture, tools, lab equipment, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) resources, indispensable for TVET students. To date, around 900 young women and men are pursuing their training and education at the complex.

Young women at a computer lab in Al-Qaten Education Complex.

UNDP Yemen / 2024

During a field visit to the school, a TVET trainer at the complex shared, “We need specific tools to get ideas across to TVET students. A lot of what they learn is practical (lab and studio oriented). Therefore, having these tools is critical to their learning.”  

Capacity building for local authorities, district education Offices, and education personnel

Education personnel at a Back-to-School Workshop in Hadhramaut.

UNDP Yemen / 2024

An integral part of the SIERY Project focuses on capacity building and training for Ministry of Education staff in governorate and district education offices. Central Governorate Offices were supported with data management systems, including ICT equipment, to accelerate performance. Additionally, local authority personnel are empowered with school safety and risk mitigation capacity workshops, while 400 education personnel were trained for a "Back to School Campaign" initiated by local authorities to encourage parents to re-enroll their children in school.

Iben Zaidoun Elementary School, one of the schools rehabilitated by local authorities in Aden with support from the SIERY Project.

UNDP Yemen / 2024

Places of education should be safe havens where students learn, play, and are protected. It is where their minds can inquire, explore, and develop to their fullest potential.  UNDP Yemen is committed to working alongside education actors and local authorities to translate their goals into reality and to support their efforts to create a safer and more inclusive learning environment, in which boys, girls, men, and women are provided with the skills needed to cope with life challenges and to better align with market needs. 

These activities were made possible thanks to the European Union.