We lead a desert life. Girls do not study - at all”, says an inhabitant of a village in northwestern Yemen, who has eight children including an eight-year-old girl named Khairiah. But this is changing. Dubai Cares, in partnership with CARE International in Yemen, recently constructed fifteen new schools in the area. The new schools are slowly changing the long-standing gender norms in the region.
Now, when Khairiah wakes up in the morning in her one-room mud hut, she still washes her face in the only bucket available for her family and the cattle, but it marks the start of a new daily routine for her, which includes going to school. “If the new school wasn’t built, I would not have any access to education,” Khairiah states, her eyes gleaming with excitement and hope for a better future.
The new school buildings have shown the local community the potential of modern education in improving the security and hygiene of their children. In the village, access to education has soon not only become a reality but a matter of prestige for the community.
Khairiah glows with happiness as she sets off to school with her brothers and neighbors. Her mother hears her talking about the new school, the availability of running water and bathrooms, blackboards, tables and chairs; simple amenities not found in their own home. She is proud that her daughter gets an education while she herself was denied one.
Khairiah’s father says that since God has given them such a wonderful school, it is his duty to talk to other families and convince them to enroll not only their sons but also their daughters in the new schools. He is grateful that his children can now look forward to a much brighter future, saying, “We thank Dubai Cares for this school which protects our children, and we pray for them from the bottom of our hearts.”
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.