Yemen’s Millennium Development Goal of reaching 100 percent primary school enrollment by 2015 is particularly challenging given the country’s significant population growth and deep poverty. In addition, gender equity is a major issue in Yemen. Fewer girls than boys enrol in school (particularly in rural areas), many tend to be over-age and most drop out before completing basic education. Studies have indicated that the lack of female teachers is one of the factors resulting in low enrolment and retention of girls in schools, particularly in higher grades when parents tend to object to male teachers. High teacher absenteeism and insufficient teaching material are other hurdles in the expansion of quality education in Yemen.
Education is a high priority in Yemen, accounting for about 14 percent of total government expenditures. Yemen is part of the Education for All Fast Track Initiative and has just finalized Phase III. Several projects supported by IDA have sought to expand access to basic education of adequate quality, especially for girls.
The Basic Education Expansion Project (BEEP) aimed to enhance quality of education through improved teaching skills and performance, additional learning materials, committed communities and parents, and an increase in the number of classrooms in 5 of the 21 governorates. The follow-up Basic Education Development Project (BEDP) encompassed 10 additional governorates and introduced new initiatives such as Conditional Cash Transfers to girls, school based management grants, development of an Education Management Information System and introduction of comprehensive and standardized basic education school designs that are accessible to physically handicapped children. And a new scheme has been launched to facilitate the qualification and recruitment of female teachers in rural areas to improve the rate at which girls stay in school.
The Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) for girls in grades 1-6 increased from 51 percent in 1999/2001 to 76 percent in 2007-08.
- GER for all children increased from 68 percent in 1999/2001 to 85 percent in 2007-08.
- 2,557 additional classrooms were built between 2001 and 2006.
- School fees for girls in grades 1-6 and boys in grades 1-3 were abolished by the Ministry of Education in 2008.
- 90 percent of teachers participated in annual refresher’s courses between 2001 and 2006.
- Starting in 2007/2008, authorities committed to contract and train female teachers over a three-year period. According to the Minister of Education, 1,000 new female teachers were contracted in 2008. Anecdotal evidence suggests the contracting of female teachers is having an impact, attracting girls to school, by making girls’ education more culturally acceptable. (See Raysa’s story
- Hotlines have been established for the local community members to raise their voice in case of fraud or questions, improving accountability.
- IDA contributed US$ 56 million to the Basic Education Expansion Project (BEEP, 2001-2007) in 5 governorates; US$ 65 million to the Basic Education Development Project (BEDP, 2004-2010) in 10 additional governorates; and US$ 20 million to the Secondary Education Development and Girls Access project (SEDGAP, 2008-2015) in 9 governorates.
- IDA was instrumental in mobilizing other donors and working effectively with them in terms of harmonization and resource mobilization. The level of cooperation among donors has improved substantially.
- The Yemen Education Country Status Report (CSR), released in July 2009, provided invaluable insight into Yemen’s education status and forms the backbone of the ongoing national dialogue on education.
-BEDP and SEDGAP are examples of strong donor harmonization and cooperation, with The United Kingdom’s DfID, Germany’s KfW and the Royal Netherlands Embassy making significant contributions to the education projects administered by IDA. Donors participate jointly in BEDP missions and meet monthly to review progress on donor harmonization.
-Education donors worked with the government in drafting the Basic Education Development Strategy finalized in 2002 and signed a partnership agreement in 2004 (expanded in 2007 to include two additional partners).
The Yemen Education Country Status Report set the stage for the development of a national vision for education. Past projects laid the foundation for a Sector-Wide Approach Project (SWAP) that could reform and improve the entire education system. During the next period (2010-2013), IDA will play a critical role in assisting the government to develop a more coordinated and fiscally viable strategy for development of the education system as a whole.