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Promoting access to quality, safe, and relevant education for all persons affected by crisis

EiE Crisis Spotlight: Yemen

Location of Crisis

Yemen, with the worst fighting taking place in the North.

Timing of Crisis

From 2004 to present, Yemen has suffered from sporadic periods of violence between government forces and various rebel groups and political protesters.

Affected Populations

According to Reuters, as of 2015, more than 21 million people in Yemen require some kind of humanitarian help to survive - about 80 percent of the population, including 2.3 million people who have been uprooted.

The damage done by years of internal conflict has caused signifcant damage to the country's infrastructure and school system. See Impact on Education for more information.

Brief Description of the Situation

Clashes in the north broke out from June-August 2004 when soldiers fought with anti-government demonstrators under the leadership of cleric Hussein al-Houthi. Between 80 and 600 people were killed, including the cleric.

More than 200 people were killed in 2005 when the conflict between the two factions resumed. In May the leader of the rebellion agrees to halt the fighting in exchange for a pardon.
Two months later, fighting broke out across the country when protests against cuts to fuel subsidies turned violent. 36 people were killed.

ECHO 2010 ©

Clashes continued intermittently between rebels and government forces through 2007 and 2008 with casualties on both sides. The prolonged periods of fighting lead the people of Yemen to demand electoral reform.In August 2009, the army launches an assault of rebel forces that displaces tens of thousands of people. The violence continued to escalate with 2011 seeing some of the worst of the fighting.

In March 2013 a national conference took place with the intent of drafting a new constitution. While nothing has been finalised to date, outbursts of violence since then have died down  though years of conflict between rebel groups and government forces have taken their toll and produced hundreds of thousands of displaced persons and caused untold damage to the country's infrastructure.

As well as constant periods of conflict, Yemen is regularly affected by natural disasters. The landslide in December 2005 in the village of al-Dhafir which killed 60 people and destroyed 25 homes and flash floods in August 2013 (discussed later) are notable examples.

Impact on Education

Children have been severely impacted by the recent years of fighting. According to a 2011 UNICEF report into that year's unrest, 82 schools in the capital were attacked by armed groups and several children were killed in the conflict.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre states that in the 2010 conflict alone, 220 of the 725 schools in the Sa’ada (capital) governorate were damaged or destroyed, or looted and that many children living camps have missed up to two years or more of instruction during the conflict. According to the Arab Human Development Reports, the mean years of schooling is 2.5 years whereas the expected amount of years in school is 8.6

There have been dozens of documented instances of rebel groups recruiting and using child soldiers. As a result of the confict, many children have been traumatised and require psychosocial report for which UNICEF has teamed with the Child Protection Initiative.

ECHO 2012 ©

Education for women has suffered the most. IRIN News states that the illiteracy rate among men is 30% whereas it stands at 67% for women.

Natural disasters are relatively common in Yemen but rarely cause casualties or significantly damage infrastructure. However, flash floods in August 2013 have been particularly severe. They have killed around 40 people and, according to IRIN News, “destroyed half of the tents and caused widespread damage at three camps for internally displaced persons  near Haradh, northwestern Yemen." Schools have also been destroyed and classrooms damaged meaning children in the camps have no dedicated learning environments.

Education Actors Responding to the Crisis


International Community Services


Save the Children

Swedish Free Mission


World Bank

Needs and Challenges
Matt May 2008 ©

According to UNOCHA, as of August 22nd, this year's Humanitarian Response Plan is only 44% funded, leaving a shortfall of $396m. The education cluster needs $20m to meet its targets and the UN has urged donors to raise additional funding, warning that “any movement towards stability could collapse unless people’s very basic needs are met."

While overally school enrollment has gradually improved, there is still a significant gulf between boys and girls. UNICEF's 2011 figures show 98% of boys are enrolled in primary school whereas the figure dips dramatically to 78% for girls while for secondary school enrollment dips for both boys and girls, to 49% and 31% respetively.

The UNDP states that Yemen can 'potentially' meet its Millennium Development Goal of ensuring that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary education by 2015 but it lists the following challenges:

  • A lack of adequate educational services;
  • Low levels of income;
  • A lack of basic services meaning some children are required to work;
  • Negative attitudes towards girl’s education;
  • Internal school inefficiency;
  • Low quality of school curricula; and
  • The inability of the school system to address problems such as overcrowding in classes, improper distribution of teachers and poorly equipped schools.

It also predicts that the country is unlikely to meet its goal to "eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015" citing the following obstacles:

  • Poverty forces many girls to leave education;
  • Drop-out rates are high among girls;
  • Early marriage and pregnancy is common;
  • There is a lack of female teachers;
  • There is a lack of awareness about the importance of girls education;
  • There is a lack of proper training opportunities and facilities for women; and
  • Cultural believes about gender roles impede girls’ access to education.

Tools and Resources

The following key INEE resources in English and Arabic can be used to support EiE efforts in Yemen.

  • INEE Minimum Standards Handbook (English, Arabic
  • Guidance Note on Conflict Sensitive Education (English)
  • Guidance Notes on Teaching and Learning (English, Arabic)
  • Guidance Notes on Teacher Compensation (English, Arabic)
  • Guidance Notes on Safe School Construction (English, Arabic)
  • Pocket Guide to Gender (English, Arabic)
  • Pocket Guide to Inclusive Education (English, Arabic)
  • Pocket Guide to Supporting Learners with Disabilities (English)
  • Guidance on HIV in Education in Emergencies (English)
  • Reference Guide on External Education Financing (English, Arabic)
  • To access other EiE tools and resources in over 20 languages, please visit the INEE Toolkit.

Key Information Sources

Brookings' Report on Education in Yemen

Reliefweb's Yemen Feed

UNICEF Country Profile

Key Words

Refugees and Internal Displacements, Natural Disasters, Child Soldiers, Internal Conflict, Gender Inequality.



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