April 18, 2017

Unpaid teacher salaries mean millions of Yemeni children may not finish school year

A smiling girl and her classmates at Huthaifa School in the capital Sana’a

UNICEF / Alzhrhani

Three-quarters of the war-torn country's teachers have not been paid for seven months - meaning many cannot afford to travel to work or pay for basic necessities for their families.

Two years of war may deprive a generation of Yemeni children of an education, the United Nations has warned.

That puts them at greater risk of being married off or recruited as child soldiers for a conflict which has killed at least 10,000 people.

Months of unpaid salaries have affected over three-quarters of the impoverished country's teachers, meaning up to 4.5 million children may not finish the school year, UNICEF Representative in Yemen Mertixell Relano told a press conference in the capital Sanaa.

Some teachers like Tahani are volunteering to help children in Yemen

UNICEF / Saeed

"At the moment we have more than 166,000 teachers in the country that have not received a salary since October last year. This is more or less 73% of the total number of teachers in the country," Relano said.

"Those children that are not in school, they are at risk of being recruited (for military service), or the girls might be at risk of being married earlier," she added.

War in Yemen

  • Since March 2015, more than 1400 children have been killed and thousands more injured in attacks on homes, schools and hospitals.
  • Two million children are not in education and about 1600 schools are unfit for use.

The crisis largely began last year when the internationally-recognised government shifted Yemen's central bank out of Sanaa, which is controlled by the armed Houthi movement with which it is at war.

The government says the Houthis looted the bank and that it is trying to make all payments despite what it calls Houthi obstruction of the transfers - charges the group denies.

Seven months of salaries remain in arrears, public sector employees in Houthi-controlled northern lands say, making travel to work and paying for basic necessities more difficult.

"Money is the backbone of life," lamented Hoda Al Khoulani, a teacher at a children's school in Sanaa.

"Without it, I don't think anyone can live and there will be suffering. We're almost begging."

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