This year’s theme ‘Every Child Needs a Teacher’ strikes a major chord in Yemen, where the number of teachers lags far behind the actual requirements. Meeting the looming teacher shortage is one of the greatest barriers to education in Yemen, where the number of female teachers is especially short, particularly in rural areas.
Achieving universal primary education by 2015 is a UN-set Millennium Development Goal, one that governments, UNICEF and its partners are working towards around the world.
Despite Yemen’s commitment of energy and resources, the country’s primary school enrolment rate is only 46 per cent and the number out-of-school girls in rural areas is close to 70 per cent. The task is a large one, and national leadership must mobilize and support all partners to realize children’s right to education. The Ministry of Education, UNICEF and partners are working to achieve universal access to primary education, increase girls’ enrolment and improve the quality of basic education.
The Ministry of Education and UNICEF have stepped up efforts to support ‘Education for All’ by giving priority to basic education and gender equity programmes, focusing on the country’s most vulnerable groups. UNICEF supports Yemen’s Basic Education Development strategy and emphasizes accelerating girls’ education through a novel approach in six Governorates: Sana’a, Hodaida, Abyan, Lahej Dahle. There, the Ministry of Education and UNICEF are conducting a series of district workshops to help communities and community leaders find ways to overcome barriers and challenges to girls’ education. The workshops are designed to stimulate active roles of people with influence, teachers, religious leaders and parents to help them understand the issues that impact girls’ education and generate an increase in girls’ enrolment and retention in schools.
Yemen is involved the UN Girls’ Education Initiative (www.ungei.org), a lynchpin of efforts to achieve education for all, and urgent efforts to promote girls’ education are needed. UNICEF is mobilizing the media and has supported field visits by journalists to create awareness on gender parity and barriers to education.
In a practical demonstration of its commitment to the issue regionally, UNICEF is supporting the meeting of the Second Arab Media Forum in Dubai from 2-4 May on the Rights of the Child, where girls’ education will be in sharp focus. Leading media representatives from the Middle East and North Africa will discuss the situation of girls’ education in the Arab World in terms of enrolment, drop-out rates and social factors that influence girls’ education. A team of Yemeni journalists will participate in the Forum and share stories from the field.
‘Education for All’ week is a GCE and UNESCO effort to drum up support for the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education and takes place from 24-30 April. Globally, an estimated 115 million children are not in school; the majority are girls. Getting more girls into school is an essential step towards transforming the dream of universal education into a reality.
For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.