How conflict in Yemen is wrecking education system

A World at School, July 8, 2015

By Sadam Al-Adwar, an A World at School Global Youth Ambassador from Yemen

“Education is the key to life”. Therefore education must be a journey of learning and discovery, through which one can see, appreciate and value the world.

We all believe that education is an essential human right. Education is a tool to critically diagnose and solve issues of poverty, conflict, unemployment, inequality and the environment.

At the same time we all know that education is often disrupted during emergencies, whether they are caused by armed conflict or natural disaster, and many children never return to school when the emergency is over.

Prime Minister of Yemen Khaled Bahah announced last January that 2015 would be the year of education in Yemen. Unfortunately, 2015 has become a year of conflict.

Since March we have been facing a critical situation due to the internal conflict between Houthis and anti-Houthis, as well as the external conflict between Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Yemen is passing through a very critical time where education is facing multiple problems and the country is facing a lot of conflict issues. 
Attacks on schools and other education-related incidents involving violence and the use of force have become a significant concern and a growing trend.

Over 3500 schools have been shut down and more than 30 schools in different parts of Yemen have been affected and damaged because of direct attacks, looting, threats and military use of schools, according to the UNICEF Yemen reports.

Houthi forces have taken over a number of schools in different cities in Yemen for use as detention facilities, military purposes and for storage of military weapons. Saudia Arabian airstrikes have targeted and destroyed these schools.

All these and more have seen the education process in Yemen stopped. 

As a Global Youth Ambassador from Yemen, I believe that education is an important intervention in emergencies, as it can provide physical, psychosocial and cognitive protection to children and often remains a high priority for children and parents.

Finally, I hope this conflict will end soon in Yemen and we can all return to our schools, universities and our normal life.

I am calling on world leaders, governments, civil society and the global community to stand up and take decisive action NOW on the education situation in Yemen. Otherwise the children and youth of Yemen will be exposed to unemployment, poor health and civil unrest.