Safeguard Yemen’s Future: Protect education from attack

Since it began in March 2015, the nearly four-year long armed conflict in Yemen has devastated the country’s educational system. According to UNICEF and the Yemen Education Cluster, close to 500,000 children have dropped out of school since the conflict began, and around 4.7 million children are in need of educational assistance. The situation has been exacerbated by attacks on education, particularly airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition, ground fighting, and crossfire, which continue to pose grave risks to students and education staff and cause damage and destruction to schools and universities. To date, the Education Cluster reports that 256 schools have been destroyed and 1,520 damaged by armed conflict, and 23 are currently occupied by armed groups. Unpaid and insufficient teacher salaries are another serious challenge and have resulted in teachers striking and leaving the profession to find alternative employment. There are examples of schools that have remained open during teacher strikes apparently being threatened or attacked. University staff and students are being forced to seek exile abroad because of the physical destruction and political pressure, including demands that they align themselves politically and ideologically with parties to the conflict.

Yemeni government authorities in Aden have taken a positive step towards protecting education by endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration and by establishing a Safe Schools Committee within the Ministry of Education. But there is still much more to be done by all parties to the conflict and the international community to ensure that students, education personnel, schools and universities in Yemen remain safe and secure. On February 26, 2019, the United Nations and the Governments of Sweden and Switzerland will convene the third High-Level Pledging Conference to support the humanitarian response in Yemen. The Pledging Conference is an opportune moment for the international community to commit to providing assistance for safe and secure education in Yemen. The right to education cannot be safeguarded in Yemen without education itself being protected.

Published 2019-02-25

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