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School renovation and community-based classes help children continue their education in Yemen

Story and photography by Mahyoub Al Omari, Education Officer

Hajjah, Yemen, 12 August 2018 - In Yemen, an entire generation of children faces a bleak future due to limited or no access to education. Nearly 2 million children are out of school and the education of another 3.7 million children is on the edge due to non-payment of salaries for teachers. Here are the stories of some of the children who could go back to school thanks to UNICEF efforts on the ground.

“My life has completely changed since I am going to school”

Fatim and Nabilah, two young girls from Khairan in Hajjah governorate, never went to school. Instead, they both supported their families by working in the fields and doing housework, until they joined UNICEF Community-Based Classes (CBC). Hajjah is one of the poorest governorates in Yemen with almost half of the children at school age (6-10 years old) being Out Of School Children (OOSC).

Fatim and Nabilah attending a community-based class.

Many times, Fatim asked her parents to let her go to school but her modest family couldn’t cover the basic school costs for books, uniforms and transportation. When Fatim heard that some classes were organized in her village, she decided to go alone to meet the volunteer teacher Ms. Salma Abdulmalik and asked her if she could attend the class. Now Fatim comes to school every day and she has learnt so fast that her classmates call her “the younger teacher.”

Nabilah waited 10 years before going to school. Being the elder of her siblings, she was staying at home with her mother, looking after her younger brothers and sisters and helping her father guarding the goats. As soon as the community class opened, her father enrolled her. Still today, Nabilah cannot believe how her life changed that radically. “Last year, I was running all day to look after our goats and collect water. I was not able to read or write a single letter. But this year, I read my first book and I can write simple sentences and I have never missed a single class.”

Fatim and Nabilah’s class is attached to Khaled Bin Al Waleed School. The class started with 25 children in a small wooden room but there are now 40 (14 boys and 26 girls) to benefit from this initiative, which has been positively received by the parents who are providing in-kind contributions and water supplies. Thanks to the community’s involvement, the class will be reconducted next year.

“I’ve never had such dedicated and motivated students”

In Bani Zaid village, located in Aslam district, Hajjah governorate, the 8-year-old Thiab also went to school for the first time. His volunteer teacher, Ms. Gamilah Husun Ahmed, feels lucky to have such a dedicated student. “If I am running late for the class or cannot come for any reason, I will surely find Thiab in front of my house asking me to come and teach.”

For Ms. Gamilah, having 25 proactive pupils is a constant source of happiness. “At the end of each school day, all of them hand me over their homework to correct and ask for more. I’ve never had such motivated students.” The classes are currently taking place in the house of one community member, Mr Ahmed Shooea, who also has two younger sons that he couldn’t sent to the nearest school, which is 3.5km away from the village. “The road to the school is too dangerous for young children, there are wild dogs and it gets often flooded during the rainy season but I still wanted to contribute to the education of Husun and Baian, my younger boys, and if there will be more students next year, I’ll give an extra room to allow all of the children to benefit from the community-based classes.”


Thiab attending the CBC in Bani Zaid village, which gives a chance to education to 25 children, 11 boys and 14 girls.

From a tree to brand new classrooms

In April last year, 37 out of school children of Al Bakri village (Bani Qais district in Hajjah governorate) were attending the community-based classes under a tree. The community decided to give away a piece of land to start the construction of two classrooms and ensure a long-term commitment for the education of their children. The third classroom is currently under construction.

The community-based class was taking place under a tree for the 12 boys and 25 girls of Al Bakri village.

Thanks to the construction of classrooms, 112 children are now back to school (45 boys and 67 girls) with 75 new students.

With the support of UNICEF and the involvement of community members, there have been 274 CBC established in 14 districts in Hajjah governorate, for 14,181 OOSC. The CBC are run by volunteer teachers who receive a formal training from UNICEF on pedagogical and classroom management skills and monthly incentives. This project is part of the Educate a Child (EAC) program, which targets in 8 districts of Hajjah governorate to give children a chance to a high-quality education.

In places where formal schools are unavailable, UNICEF with the support of EAC, provides CBC to reach OOSC, in close coordination with the relevant local actors to create a community long-term commitment. UNICEF emphasizes the need to help out of school children return to formal education, but also to support those children who are able to attend but suffer from psychosocial trauma. So far in 2018, 126,635 affected children have been provided with access to education via Temporary Learning Spaces, school rehabilitation, capitation grands, and classroom furniture and 65,920 received psychosocial support services in schools.



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