Hewar, a small impoverished village in northwestern Yemen is home to Amina, a young woman who stands out as an anomaly. Having fought for her education as a young girl, struggling against prejudice and social pressure, she was the only girl in a class of sixty students.
She managed to finish her schooling but due to her family’s dire economic situation she couldn’t study at a university. But she valued her education and desired to assist in providing better educational opportunities for other girls in her village. Unfortunately, she was forced to stop teaching due to the appalling conditions of schools in her village.
Today, Amina is a voluntary teacher in her village, an opportunity provided to her when Dubai Cares in partnership with CARE International in Yemen, constructed fifteen new schools in her governorate. From her own personal experiences, she understood that schoolgirls would greatly benefit from having a female teacher and this is what urged her to volunteer as a teacher.
Once the construction of the schools was complete, Amina joined a group of women who were tasked with visiting local families individually to gather feedback. They paid particular attention to those whose daughters had previously dropped out of school. The success of this group was evident when the number of girls attending Amina’s school tripled in the new school building.
But this program has also benefited other community members; giving people of all ages the option of enrolling in literacy classes. For Amina, the most innovative part of the program is Dubai Cares’ focus on the importance of education at a very young age. “This is a completely new concept for us. It gives the young generation a new, solid foundation,” she says. With a gesture concealing her disappointment, she adds, “I wish I could go back in time and re-start my education in one of these new schools.”
Developmental Challenges in Yemen
The Republic of Yemen is the least developed country in the Middle East with a human development index (HDI) of 151. Also on the gender equity scale, Yemen is scoring low: 121 out of 140 countries, demonstrating large inequalities between men and women. Although the gross enrollment figures have been growing over the last 5 years, recent trends in primary education still point to a lack of progress, especially for girls.
Dubai Cares Programs in Yemen
In an effort to complement the government’s commitment to ensuring gender equality in primary schools, Dubai Cares is implementing targeted infrastructure interventions with CARE International and Save the Children in Lahej, Abyan, Aden and Hajja in Yemen.
The joint Dubai Cares-CARE International primary education program aims to increase the quality and relevance of education to 36,000 primary age children in the rural governorate of Hajja, with special emphasis placed on providing girls with access to education. The program will also ensure the construction of nearly 100 primary schools in the underserved areas, with six classrooms each.
Dubai Cares partnership with Save the Children aims to drive primary education programs in Yemen benefitting nearly 46,000 children from 35 under-developed schools.
Additionally, in partnership with UNICEF, Dubai Cares supports government efforts that promote girls’ education in rural areas, both through policy formulation and direct involvement in rural communities. The program also aims to improve quality of education by setting standards and promoting social mobilization at both community and the national level. Approximately, 2 million children, 400 female teachers and more than 1900 teachers of the Child Friendly Schools will benefit from the Dubai Cares-UNICEF joint programs in Yemen. As part of the program, school kits including notebooks will be distributed to children in the 6-14 age group throughout the country, providing them the basic tools and materials required for school.
Providing Access to Quality Primary Education
Dubai Cares efforts in Yemen reflect the theme of its “End Poverty. Educate Now.” Ramadan campaign, which will run throughout the Holy Month of Ramadan to spread awareness of the importance of education, as one of the most effective tools to break the cycle of poverty. The campaign also aims to raise funds for improving children’s access to education in developing countries.