ٍِFeatured in OCHA's January-February 2024 Humanitarian Update

After nearly a decade of conflict, the education sector in Yemen remains immensely affected. Children lack reliable access to education due to frequent displacement, damage to school facilities, lack of educational resources, and widespread insecurity.

According to the 2024 HNO, over 4.5 million Yemeni children of school age (5-17 years) currently do not attend school. For students, particularly internally displaced children, overcrowded and ill-equipped classrooms with underpaid teachers are common challenges.

As of October 20232, 2,426 schools have been either partially or fully damaged or not functional because they are used for shelter or other non-educational purposes. Moreover, makeshift schools that serve as replacements have rudimentary infrastructure and do not meet children’s full educational needs. Ensuring the availability of safe educational opportunities is crucial to restore a sense of normalcy and continuity for them.

On the West Coast, the need for educational assistance is also urgent. Conflict and economic collapse have hindered authorities’ ability to educate children.  School-age girls and boys desperately need support to reenter the educational system.

To bolster the resilience of crisis-affected children, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is implementing sustainable solutions by rehabilitating public infrastructure, including schools, health facilities and water infrastructure in sites for internally displaced persons (IDP) across the West Coast.

The rehabilitation of school and water infrastructure, supported in part by the Yemen Humanitarian Fund (YHF) and Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), aims to address the most critical needs and strengthen social cohesion by providing both displaced people and host communities with safe, dignified, and adequate durable solutions.

Ensuring an inclusive and accessible school environment

From July to December 2023, IOM rehabilitated Al Fawz school and erected three new classrooms in the Dehywi IDP sites within the Al Khukha district of southern Al Hodeidah. The school received new desks, chairs and tables and was equipped with a solar system for lighting, running fans and a school radio system.

Thanks to these improvements, the school will deliver safe, equitable, and high-quality education to 450 children from both the host community and neighbouring displacement sites.

The Al Khuka area accommodates 173 households (or 842 individuals). The additional classrooms and inclusive education initiative aim to reduce the social exclusion often experienced by displaced children and mitigate the high dropout rate displaced families face when community resources are limited.

The rehabilitated schools were inaugurated in December 2023. During the inauguration, the authorities praised IOM for investing in the future of the next generation, fostering peace and complementing local government efforts by facilitating access to formal education.

Twelve-year-old Mohammed, residing in the Dehywi IDP site, has been out of school for several years, like many other children in the area.

“We could not go to school because there were no nearby schools, and it was unsafe to walk to distant ones,” he recounts. Insecure educational facilities and routes to schools are a major concern for families, leading to a significant dropout rate among both girls and boys.

The rehabilitated school offers Mohammed and his friends a second chance at education. He spoke fondly of the new classrooms, the friends he is making and the sense of safety he now feels while in school. His ambitions have also been reignited.

“When I grow up, I want to become a doctor and treat people, especially children,” he says.

For Mohammed, the school has brought learning back into his life and will foster a vibrant community for him and his friends. Moreover, the children now regularly participate in extracurricular activities and Mohammed is making more friends just by returning to school.

Voices from the community echo Mohammed’s sentiments.

Ahmed, a teacher at the school, commends the project for effectively addressing the community’s safety concerns and supporting the educational continuity for children. Abdullah, a member of the Community Educational Committee, adds that the new classrooms allow students to continue their formal education and add value to the teaching process.

For him, this project has instilled a sense of hope for vulnerable children and their families.

Education for adults

The need for adult literacy was identified during community consultations with displaced women in several sites. Structural inequalities often hinder women and girls’ access to basic services, resulting in a dramatic gender gap in literacy and basic education. The lack of education further exacerbates economic insecurity, especially among female-headed households.

In conjunction with the Education Directory, IOM is implementing an adult literacy programme for women in eight IDP sites, where female teachers volunteer to teach adult literacy. So far, 438 women have attended the classes. The programme aims to help women develop new skills and self-confidence while providing them a space to connect. Women have reportedly encouraged each other to enroll their children in school.

“Education is so important,” explains Eqleem, a displaced women that participated in the adult literacy classes in Abuzahir. “I am so happy that I joined this programme because most of us here are from rural areas and couldn’t read before.”

Eqleem and other women in Abuzahir expressed their eagerness to pursue their learning experience and hope for the illiteracy programme to continue.

The rehabilitation of key infrastructure and services has improved access to life-saving services for displaced and conflict-affected host communities on the West Coast. This approach, which looks at the holistic needs of communities, addresses immediate needs while strengthening community resilience and social cohesion.

SDG 4 - Quality Education