Yemen’s education system has been devastated by the country’s brutal conflict, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said here on Tuesday, reporting that at least half a million children have dropped out of school since the escalation of the war in 2015.
“An entire generation of children in Yemen faces a bleak future because of limited or no access to education,” said Meritxell Relano, UNICEF Representative in Yemen.
“Even those who remain in school are not getting the quality education they need.”
The total number of out-of-school children now stands at about 2 million, and almost three quarters of public school teachers have not been paid their salaries in over a year, putting the education of an additional 4.5 million children at grave risk, Xinhua reported.
More than 2,500 schools are out of use, with two thirds damaged by attacks, 27 per cent closed and 7 per cent used for military purposes or as shelters for displaced people.
Children risk being killed on their way to school. Fearing for their children’s safety, many parents choose to keep their children at home, according to UNICEF.
The lack of access to education has pushed children and families to dangerous alternatives, including early marriage, child labour and recruitment into the fighting.
UNICEF appeals to the warring parties, those who have influence on them, government authorities and donors to put an end to the war, pay teachers, protect children’s education unconditionally, and increase funding for education.
On March 26, 2015, a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia intervened militarily at the request of Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi to secure the return of the government to Sanaa, which had been seized by Houthi militias and allied units of the armed forces when the conflict initially erupted in 2014.
Three years on, the fighting is still raging and the United Nations has listed Yemen as the country of the world’s number one humanitarian crisis, where seven million Yemenis are on the brink of famine.