Education in Yemen

Education in Yemen

Although Yemen’s laws provide for universal, compulsory, free education for children ages six through 15, the U.S. Department of State reports that compulsory attendance is not enforced. This deficiency is confirmed by United Nations statistics. In 2002 only 72 percent of Yemen’s school-age population was enrolled in primary school; enrollment was even lower for the female population—only 59 percent. In that same year, only 35 percent of the school-age population was enrolled in secondary school, including only 21 percent of eligible females. These low enrollment numbers (the lowest in the Middle East and North Africa region) are in turn a reflection of the countrywide shortage of the requisite infrastructure. School facilities and educational materials are of poor quality, classrooms are too few in number, and the teaching faculty is inadequate. In September 2004, the World Bank approved a US$65 million project to improve the quality of basic education (grades one through nine). Under this program, classroom facilities will be expanded and upgraded, curricula and educational materials improved, and the Ministry of Education’s capacity to implement new programs and resources strengthened. Yemen’s government has in recent years increased spending on education—from 4.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1995 to 9.5 percent of GDP in 2003. [ Yemen country profile] . Library of Congress Federal Research Division (December 2006). "This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain."]

History of education

According to Yemen’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper 2002, basic education is still unable to provide for all children of schooling age (6-14). [cite web |url=
title= Ministry of Planning & International Cooperation. Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP)2002|date=2002
] Yemen’s primary school enrollment rates have increased from 73 to 87 % for males and from 28 to 63 % for females between 1991 and 2004. [cite web |url=,Yemen,%20Rep.&hm=home |title= The World Bank Group GenderStats database of Gender Statistics ]

The main educational problems in Yemen are a weak education system, low levels of teacher training and qualification, gaps in enrollment between boys and girls, weak institutional capacity from the Ministry to school levels, and low community participation [cite web |url=$File/Yemen+Update+11.pdf
title= The World Bank Group Sana’s office.2002.YEMEN ECONOMIC UPDATE. Issue 11.p1-18. Social and Economic Development Group (MNSED), Middle East and North Africa Region. |date=2002

The government’s effort for education started in 1962 when the Yemen Arab Republic was established. During 1970’s, Yemen saw expansion of basic education; however, there was certain disparity between North and South, and they adapted very different education policies until its unification in 1990. Traditionally, North Yemen has been a much closed society and education was limited only to religious schools where children memorized the Koran, or to schools run by local initiatives. However, not all children could have access to these schools, and majority of the students were boys, while few girls attended.

The development of education in South Yemen began in 1967 after British withdrawal. During the British occupation of South, education was available only in Aden. Primary and intermediate schools existed in each small township of Steamer Point, Crater, Shaikh Othman, etc. There was only girls’ secondary school in Khormaksar and two private schools were in Crater and Steamer Point [cite web
author =Laila Noman |url=
title= The Biritish-Yemeni Society Education of girls in Yemen |date=2002

During 1970s, several education plans were made for the new republic and the educational situation of South had really taken off that of North. The education system in north adapted 6-3-3 (6 years of primary school, 3 years of preparatory, 3 years of secondary). The south also adapted the same education system; however, it changed to 8-4 (8 years integrated school, 4 years of secondary school). cite web
author = A. Al-Amri., D. Annuzaili., and A. Al-Deram. |url=
title= Overview of the Situation of Children,Women and ECD in Yemen. Early Childhood Development Virtual University (ECDVU). |date=2003
] Secondary education had a choice of academic, vocational, technical or teacher training education.

After the unification of North and South Yemen in 1990, these two education systems were merged into a single system, and 9-3 (9 years of basic education, 3 years of secondary education) was adapted. The unified Yemen were facing several educational problems such as lack of a budget for education, lack of government leadership , a lack of Yemeni teachers, overcrowding and inefficiency in management. In the same year as its unification, the World Conference on Education for All was held in Jomtien, Thailand. Respond to this conference, Yemen’s Ministry of Education had developed several national education strategies with the cooperation of the World Bank and donor countries.

Girls' education

The girls’ enrollment rate of Yemen is the lowest in Middle Eastern countries, and there is huge disparity between boys and girls, and between urban and rural areas.The low girls’ participation in education is attributed to several socio-cultural factors. The tradition of early marriage in rural areas hinders girls’ schooling and leads to high drop out rates. The chastity of girls has great importance in rural areas; therefore parents are unwilling to send girls to mixed gender schools. Also, negative social attitudes towards girls’ education, and a lack of female teachers contribute to low female enrollment [cite web|author =UNESCO |url=|title= ASSESSMENT OF CHILD DEVELOPMENT PROJECT, YEMEN FINAL REPORT.|date=2005]

The limited number of schools, employment opportunities, overcrowding and a low quality of education discourages families from sending their girls to school. In addition, male teachers’ conservative attitudes towards girls, the distance from schools in rural areas, a lack of books and teaching materials and parents’ financial constraints limit girls’ opportunities for education.

trategies for Basic Education

Basic Education Expansion Program (BEEP)

Since 1997, the World Bank and Ministry of Education started studying the current educational situation in Yemen and set strategies to achieve expansion of basic education. After a long discussion, it was admitted as Basic Education Expansion Program (BEEP) by the World Bank and implemented with about 60 million US dollars [cite web |url=|author = Yuki.K.|title= ‘Is the Concept of Social Capital Useful for International Cooperation?: A Case Study of the Yemen Basic Education Expansion Project Assisted by the World Bank’ Journal of International Cooperation in Education.Vol.6 No.1 July 2003: pp.111~121.

This program specifically aimed at increasing rural girls’ enrollment in the first six years of basic education by improving of access, quality, and capacity building. [cite web |url=
title= Basic Education Expansion Project Republic of Yemen
] BEEP was successful and the pilot project expanded to all 20 governorates.

Basic Education Development Project (BEDP)

In August 2000, the Basic Education Development Program (BEDP) which was a follow-up and expansion of the Basic Education Expansion Program (BEEP) was approved by the World Bank. It has been implemented with the cooperation of DFID and the Netherlands since June 2004. cite book
author = JICA.|title = Banninnotameno kyoiku(EFA)heno chosen Nihonno ODA nikansuru teigen. ‘The challenge for EFA, the advice for Japan’s ODA|date = 2005|pages = P64-74

BEDP involves the construction and rehabilitation of schools (grades 1-9), including latrines, hygienic hand washing and drinking water facilities, boundary walls and laboratories, and the procurement of laboratory equipment (including chemical materials) for grades 1-9. [cite web
autho=|World Bank

BEDP aims at implementing the plans in all governorates while the operation of BEDS (Basic Education Development Strategy) has been concentrated in four particular governorates. The size of this joint project (BEDP) is US$120 million and core of the BEDS.

In November 2006, EKN and DFID signed a Technical Assistance Trust Fund. This Fund has been disbursed to support BEDP operations such as preparation projects for girls’ secondary education and the preparation of vocational training project II initiated by the World Bank. [cite web |url=|title= Ambassade van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden Education sector]

Basic Education Development Strategy (BEDS)

In 2002, the government developed a national Basic Education Development Strategy (BEDS) with the support of various development partners and stakeholders.cite web |url=
title= Government of Yemen and Ministry of Education.2003.Republic of Yemen Education for All by 2015-Fast Track Initiative, Country Proposal |date=2003
] This project implemented in four districts of the governorate of Sana’a at first, and expanded to cover 50% of the districts of the governorates of Sana’a, Amran, Mahwet and Al-Dhalea in 2002. Later, it was expanded to all 61 districts of the four governorates.cite web
author = Beatty, Sharon
title=Basic Education for Girls in Yemen: Country Case Study and Analysis Mid-Decade Review of Progress towards Education for All

BEDS had following objectives; raising the enrollment rates to 95% by 2015, improving the quality of teaching, upgrading curriculum, school administration reform, improving fund management, decentralizing management of educational services, expanding the availability of school space for girls, using underutilized classroom space, instituting double-shifts, constructing new schools based on school mapping, enhancing community participation. [cite book|title = The World Bank Group Sana’s office.2002.YEMEN ECONOMIC UPDATE. Issue 11.p1-18.]

The government held a series of consultative meetings and workshops with civil stakeholders to build ownership among citizens. Over 400 male and female citizens who were representative of the Women’s Committee, Teacher’s Union, and Parents’ and Students’ Councils from both the central and local levels participated in the meetings.

The monitoring of implementation of the BEDS was operated by an Inter-ministerial Steering Committee (ISC) and guided by a Technical Team (TT). Technical Team also had responsibility for regular co-ordination with donor community. The responsibility for the actual activities and implementation of the BEDS were carried by Ministry of Education where accounts for authorities and organization at decentralized level.cite web |url= |title= Partnership Declaration on Education |date=January 2004]

The implementation of the BEDS was greatly influenced by economic situations such as a decline in oil prices, damage to agriculture due to drought, and a decline in external support.. When these main resources of national economy were harmed, Yemen’s economy did not possess the ability to continue implementation of the plan. [cite web|author =UNESCO|url=|title= Basic Education Development in Yemen]

In 2004, a Partnership Declaration for Implementation of the BEDS was signed between the Government of Yemen and the World Bank, UNICEF, WFP,ILO, UNESCO, the Governments of Germany, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, France, EU. [cite web|author = UNESCO|url=

The objective of this Declaration is to harmonise strategies and effectively allocate all government and donor resources for basic education. Through this partnership, the implementation of the BEDS gained strong sponsors and has shown remarkable progress.

EFA-Fast Track Initiative (FTI)

After the G8 Summit in June 2002, Yemen was invited to participate in the Education For All: Fast Track Initiative (EFA: FTI). The FTI was launched in April 2002 as a global partnership between donor and developing countries to accelerate the Millennium Development Goals for education in 2015. Yemen faces rapid increase of population and needed additional funds to expand their educational strategy.cite web|author = Ogawa, K. |url=|title= The EFA Fast Track Initiative: experience of Yemen. Background paper for EFA Global Monitoring Report 2006|pages =191-198|date=2005]

The government drafted FTI proposal based on the Basic Education Development Strategy (BEDS) and Poverty Reduction Strategy Proposal with the cooperation of the World Bank. This proposal was reviewed in October 2002 in Brussels, and approved in donor meeting held in Paris in 2003. One year later, ten million US dollars were given to the Government as a Catalytic fund.

FTI supported basic education mainly in the governorates of Al-Baidha, Dhamar, Hodeidah and Hajjah and part of this grant was allocated to the governorates of Al-Jouf, Shabowah and Lahej. The task forces were established to strength and facilitate the implementation between the government and donors.

The Ministry of Education has promoted reform policies by following the FTI framework, and has been careful for monitoring, the quality, and efficiency of service delivery.Ministry of Education also engaged in the administrative reform, and reinforced relations with the local government. Senior technical officials of the Ministry of Education and the local government’s officials held several workshops about the allocation of FTI fund. A deputy ministers’ committee has been established in the central ministry and local education department for building a capacity in the area of educational administration and for policy making among the administrative staff. The involvement of the local government’s officials contributed to reflect their voices in making policy and brought them a serious incentive for the implementation of the plan.


The government increased public expenditure for basic education and allocated a share of 17.2% of the public expenditures in 2003, and 16.97% in 2004 which are about 4.5% of the GDP.

Basic education schools increased from around 9930 schools in 2000 to 10293 schools in 2002 and 10684 in 2004. The number of classrooms also showed an increase from 97462 classrooms in 2003 to 98329 in 2004. In particular, more than two thirds of the number of schools and classrooms including private schools were built in rural areas. The increase of gross enrollment rate is contributed to special consideration such as exemption of school fee or school feeding programs for the children from poor families. These programs supported 106169 girls in 1272 schools. In 2004, a dry meals service was operated and 248244 girls in the basic education level were included in this service. [cite web|author = Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation|url=|title= Report on Yemen’s achievements 2000-2005 of objectives of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries |date=2006]

These projects contributed to improve enrolment rate in the basic education level (6-14 years) up to 72% for boys and 42% for girls in 1999. In 2004, the enrollment rate increased to 87% for boys and 63% for girls.cite web |url=
title= UNESCO Institute of Statistics Education in Yemen

econdary education

After the nine years primary education, students receive Intermediate School Certificate and attend secondary school for three years. In addition to normal secondary schools in which to prepare for university, technical secondary schools, vocational training centers, a veterinary training school, a Health Manpower Training Institute, and several agricultural secondary schools are available. There are also Islamic schools, and private schools.In normal secondary schools, students take a common curriculum during their first year, after that, students are given choice either the scientific or literary track.

At the end of third year, students take examinations, and an 'Al Thanawiya' (General Secondary Education Certificate) is given to students who pass the examination.cite web |url=|title= AMIDEAST Educational system: Republic of Yemen] In the school year 1999-2000 was 439,129boys and 324,493 girls enrolled secondary education.

According to the UNESCO, gross secondary school enrolment rate was 59% for male 22% for female in 1999 while regional average in Middle Eastern countries was 69% for male and 63% for female. This rate slowly increased and reached to 64% and 31% each.

University education

University education is completed for 4 years except for Engineering and Medicine which require 5 to 6 years respectively.There are 7 public universities in Sana’a, Aden, Hodeida, Taiz, Ibb, Dhamar, and Hadramaut (Mukallah) and 5 private universities and religious universities. Also, there are two community colleges in Sana’a and Aden.

Thanawiya examinations’ results are very important for getting into university and the required score varies depending on each faculty.The percentage who pursues university education is less than 10 %.

In 2001, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research was established to meet the demand for social development.Every year, about 300-400 students who seek high quality of education go abroad education. USA, U.K. and other European countries and India are popular countries for higher education. [cite web |url=|title= University Grants Commission Republic of Yemen]


According to the United Nations, the adult literacy rate for Yemen in 2003 was 29 percent for females and 70 percent for males. The overall literacy rate for the population age 15 and older was 49 percent. By comparison, low-income countries in the aggregate average an adult literacy rate of approximately 60 percent.


ee also

*Education in the Middle East and North Africa
*Aden University
*Sana'a University
*History of Yemen

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