Accelerating Girl’s Education In Yemen. Rethinking Policies in Teachers’ Recruitment and School Distribution

Type Report
Title Accelerating Girl’s Education In Yemen. Rethinking Policies in Teachers’ Recruitment and School Distribution
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2007
This policy paper focuses on the Millennium Development Goal 3: to promote gender
equality and empower women. The authors contend that, using gender as major criteria,
current educational policies can be improved and better educational outcomes can be
achieved for girls.
Yemen is the least developed country in the Middle East with a position as number 151 out of
177 nations on the Human Development Index and a GDP per capita of US$ 631. On the
gender equity scale Yemen demonstrates large inequalities between men and women, ranking
121st out of 140 countries.
Although the number of children has been growing over the last 5 years, recent trends in
primary education still point to slow progress. Despite an increase in gross enrolment rates
from 73% in 2000/01 to 76% in 2004/05 only 63% of girls were enrolled in 2004/05. The
gender gap remains high and while it is being reduced, the rate of change is not enough to
ensure that gender parity will be improved to less than 5 points by 2015.
Recent studies clearly show that the main causes for low enrolment and high drop-out rates
for girls in Yemen are: 1) lack of accessibility 2) socio-cultural factors and 3) institutional
factors. A large part of Yemen’s population, approximately 72% live in rural areas and since
Yemen is a large country with millions of people scattered widely over often difficult terrain,
the accessibility of schools is a major challenge in rural areas. At the same time, cultural and
social norms have a more defining influence in the rural areas. Cultural and traditional
perceptions of women and girls have led to a tradition of segregation between the sexes. This
poses specific demands on the education system, such as schools suitable only if within
culturally acceptable distances and locations, and the need for female teachers for girls after
the fourth grade. The institutions responsible for education have not yet been able to respond
sufficiently to these challenges.
The 6.2% of GDP allocated to education is modest and with a constant increasing number of
children to be provided with quality education, more investment is needed. However, this
paper does not focus on the size of the investment but looks at the strategic use and
management of available resources. To re-allocate the budget in favour of girls’ education,
the focus should be on the categories with the highest expenditure: salaries and infrastructure.
Hence, the policies in the areas of teachers’ recruitment and school distribution are analysed.
The causal link between recruitment of female teachers and girls’ enrolment and retention is
direct and very significant. Quantitative and qualitative data from national and international
studies are utilized in the paper to show this relationship. Many Yemeni families would like
to see their girls continue schooling beyond the age of 11, provided there are female teachers.
From the family’s point of view, female teachers offer a safe environment for girls’
education. At the same time, from the girls’ perspectives, the work of female teachers
inspires them and the teachers become role models.
There is evidence that the lack of a school close to the home raises concern for the safety and
security of girls. Parents are less likely to allow girls to go to school than boys if the distance
to school is too far or keep them home after a certain age. Their decision to send girls to
school is also influenced by the availability of girls-only schools. Data reflects disparity in
availability of such schools with significant rural-urban differences.

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