An improved school leads to better educational outcomes

UNICEF supported major rehabilitation work in 23 schools in three governorates

UNICEF Yemen
Al Zyadi School
UNICEF/UN0580176/Gabreez
01 February 2022

For years, teachers at Al Zyadi School, Lahj Governorate in Yemen, had been struggling to get through their lesson plans, and students were distracted by their classrooms’ steady state of disrepair. With its dilapidated walls and ceilings, rainwater would fall on students’ heads throughout the wet season in the village of Al Zyadi. The constant disruptions and overall degraded state of the infrastructure had a significant impact on students’ learning outcomes, limiting their chances of success beyond the school’s crumbling walls.

In 2021, thanks to funding from the German Government through KfW Development Bank, UNICEF supported major rehabilitation work in 23 schools in three governorates, benefiting over 22,000 students. Major rehabilitation includes renovating buildings and classrooms and installing or upgrading WASH infrastructures such as latrines.

Since 2016, 30-year-old Ehkam Abdullah has been filling the gaps in Yemen’s education system by volunteering to teach mathematics to first graders. She describes the school before the rehabilitation as “a very old building whose roof was permeable to rain and wind.” Now that it has been repaired and outfitted with electricity, fans, and desks, the quality of student engagement and test scores have “improved significantly.”

Since 2016, 30-year-old Ehkam Abdullah has been filling the gaps in Yemen’s education system by volunteering to teach mathematics to first graders. She describes the school before the rehabilitation as “a very old building whose roof was permeable to rain and wind.” Now that it has been repaired and outfitted with electricity, fans, and desks, the quality of student engagement and test scores have “improved significantly.”

Ehkam Abdullah
UNICEF/UN0580147/Gabreez
Ehkam Abdullah, 30, teaches mathematics and Qur’an at Al Zyadi School, Lahj Governorate, Yemen

Twelve-year-old Yahya is a student at Al Zyadi School and appreciates his new classroom that protects him from bad weather. “In the past, the school was cramped, and we used to have water falling on us in some classrooms”, he says. “Now, the situation is different, as no water seeps into the classroom, it is well ventilated and the weather inside is nice”, he adds.

Yahya Anis Yahya
UNICEF/UN0580153/Gabreez
Yahya Anis Yahya, 12, a student at Al Zyadi School, Lahj Governorate

Although his house is far from school, and it is stressful for him to commute to school every day, he rarely misses a class. “When I arrive home, I study what we learned in school and I don’t procrastinate. I feel happy going to school because I also meet my friends and develop my skills”, he explains with a determined look.

Mahdi Nasser is 53 years old and serves as the media representative for the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, and the head of the Parents’ Council at Al Zyadi School. For the past seven years, he has witnessed the impact of the war on the school walls, but has never stopped pushing for change and mobilizing the community to upgrade the school.

Mahdi Nasser
UNICEF/UN0580129/Gabreez
Mahdi Nasser, 53, is the head of the Parents’ Council at Al Zyadi School, Lahj Governorate

According to Mahdi, the school's dilapidation “was a barrier to learning, as the floors were filled with potholes and the ceilings were caving in. It got so bad that scorpions and snakes were living inside the classrooms, and we had to stop classes for two weeks to get them out.”

Since UNICEF intervened, Mahdi has not received any complaints and has gotten to enjoy watching teachers, students, and caregivers working harmoniously to ensure that children receive the best education possible.

These efforts are however not a solution to all the challenges teachers are facing. The school still needs better walls, the administration needs money to pay salaries to female teachers, and students require access to transportation – as many of them live far away.

“I hope that financial support will be maximized to help the volunteers and staff for the eighth and ninth grades, and put in a backup generator or solar energy panels so that we don't keep losing power, especially on hot summer days when the temperature reaches 40 degrees,” the school's principal, 51-year-old Mohammed Saeed says.

Mohammed Saeed
UNICEF/UN0580173/Gabreez
Mohammed Saeed, 51, the principal of Al Zyadi School, Lahj Governorate

He hopes to continue improving the infrastructure, resources, and curriculum to the point where this school becomes a model for the entire governorate.