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Rural teachers, a ray of hope for the next generation

UNICEF Yemen/2017/Ohira
© UNICEF Yemen/2017/Ohira
Pupils of Grade 3 which Basma teachers in Al-Thawrah school in Ibb governorate.

Basma and Huda are two of over 2,300 rural teachers in 13 governorates who are a great source of hope for the children of Yemen

By Kenji Ohira and Tahani Saeed

Ibb-22 April 2017 - Basma Sufian Yahya Shaaf Al Din Al Muliki looks young and energetic. The older Huda Ali Hamoud Abdullah, mother of four children, looks gentle. Both women live in Al She’er district of Ibb Governorate, over a two-hour drive on the hilly dirt road to the south from Ibb city. Though the district has not been directly affected by the ongoing conflict both women feel the impact of the war. Commodity prices are higher than before; and one of them lost some of her relatives in the conflict. Huda feels more insecure as she has children. With the hike in prices, she sometimes finds it difficult to provide for her children. Basma and Huda were strangers to each other until 2014 when they met and now know each other very well. That is because both are now teachers under a rural female teacher initiative, an activity that was first supported by the World Bank (WB) under its Second Basic Education Project (BEDP II).

The programme was later taken over by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) programme managed by UNICEF. The GPE rural female teacher programme initially aimed to train and hire 1,600 female teachers in its 13 target governorates. The number was increased to 2,300 to include those initially supported by the World Bank. Ibb governorate was originally under the WB programme, covering 70 teachers in two districts. In Al-She’er district, 21 female teachers are under the programme. Two of whom, Basma and Huda, whom we met during our field visit in April.

Before her selection to the programme, Basma’s ultimate dream in life was to get a secondary school certificate. The entire family was against her idea except one person – her father. He helped her pursue her dream. It was not easy, though. She was registered in the secondary school but had to study at home as it was a ‘boys’ school. Nonetheless, she continued studying, thanks to her father’s support. Soon she passed the national exam for Grade 12, coming top in her school.

Huda, on the other hand, is originally from Ibb city but she moved to Al She’er district with her husband after marriage. Her dream was to become a teacher but she didn’t have a degree for that. Hence, she began teaching at a school as a volunteer teacher.

Then, in 2014, their lives changed. The Ministry of Education was looking for candidates to become future female teachers in their district. The headmaster of Basma’s primary school was aware of her academic level and hence recommended her to the Ministry. The headmaster of Huda’s school knew of her passion for teaching, and he too recommended her. Both passed the qualifying exam.

That is how they became eligible candidates for the teachers training under BEDP II of the World Bank in 2014. After completing their first three-month training in 2014, they got a contract. 

UNICEF Yemen/2017/Ohira
© UNICEF Yemen/2017/Ohira
26-Septmeber School where Huda teaches in She’er district of Ibb Governorate.

To date, they have finished two trainings and are expecting to undergo the third one shortly, after which they will finally obtain diploma certificates. They say, it has not been an easy task at all. There are 13 textbooks for each of the three-month training. “It was very tough and intensive. I had to finish one book per week!” says Basma. However, both say they are ready for the final third training and determined to obtain the diploma.

While still undergoing training, they are already teaching at their respective schools. Basma teaches 75 students in Grade 2 while Huda teaches 17 students in Grade 3. Both are happy and satisfied, though Basma also faces some challenges due to the large size of her class. She had never thought of working until she got this opportunity. She feels that this programme has opened a big opportunity in her life. Despite the large class she enjoys her teaching. It gives her immense satisfaction when she sees children understanding what she has taught them in class. Huda says she likes to educate children as they are the future generation. She feels that by teaching children she is serving her country. Regardless of the ongoing conflict, their teaching continues to shed a bright ray of hope for the next generation.

To ensure that children don’t completely miss out on their education despite the conflict in Yemen, UNICEF is providing a range of support. These include the renovation of schools damaged during the conflict, provision of school furniture and scholastic materials such as notebooks, pencils and school bags. Teachers are also being trained, including on psychosocial support so that they can help students to cope with the horrors of the conflict. 



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