The idea is to increase the enrollment of Yemeni children in school and reduce the dropout rate. Both of these tasks are huge challenges in this impoverished country facing political upheaval. The campaign features stressing the importance of education, the distribution of school supplies as well as teacher training.
Before UNICEF got involved there were only 162 students at Yarmouk school in Yemen. Today, there are 1,628 from host communities as well as from the nearby camps for displaced people. (Yemen /2011 /Halldorsson)
Roberta Contine of CHF International says, “I would like to stress the importance of implementing such capacity building interventions in regions with emergencies where teachers are set to provide psychosocial support for children aside from traditional education.”
Yemen's Minister of Education Dr. Abdulsalam Al-Jawfi says, “Education is a collective responsibility for everyone.... We also appeal to political parties, community organizations, and the media and mosque preachers to enthusiastically engage during the campaign and ensure that access to education is guaranteed to all children without any exception."
One tool in increasing school attendance though is missing. This would be the UN World Food Programme's (WFP) school feeding initiative to provide take-home rations. Low funding for WFP forced suspension of the program in 2010. Since 2008, high food prices and low funding from the international community have devastated the WFP Food for Education in Yemen. Should this program be restarted and expanded nationwide, it would have a positive impact on increasing school attendance and lowering malnutrition rates.
Dr. Rajia Sharhan of UNICEF points out that school feeding would have the effect of improving the health of future mothers. Yemen needs to be developing a national school lunch program.
But Yemen faces so many hurdles before they can start attacking these problems. The political turmoil and violence has to come to an end. The international community has to support the work of UNICEF, WFP and other aid agencies.