October 18, 2017

"If we cannot find a solution to the war and unpaid teachers’ salaries, we risk a lost generation in Yemen"

The son of Yemeni teacher Anwar Al-Athouri sells sweets from his late father's wagon

Ahlam Ahmed

Global Youth Ambassador from Yemen

A Global Youth Ambassador from the conflict-torn country tells how teachers have been driven to strike because they haven't been paid for a year.

Education in Yemen is getting worse since the war escalated in March 2015 - and children pay the highest cost. 

According to Education Watch, a member of the Education Cluster in Yemen, there are 2.3 million children out of school. 

Many children, from as young as eight, are recruited to fight. The United Nations has verified the recruitment of 1476 child soldiers, all boys, between March 2015 and January 2017. Those who are not recruited are still denied an education due to lack of infrastructure and resources. 

1815 schools are totally or partially damaged and many schools are host to internally displaced families or being used for military purposes. 

There are 233,458 educational staff and administrators, including 166,443 teachers, who have not received their salaries since October 2016 in 13 governorates of Yemen - that is approximately 73% of the total number of teachers in the country. 

Education in Yemen is on the edge due to the war and unpaid teachers’ salaries.

Many schools in Yemen have been damaged or destroyed in the conflict

The General Union of Education Professions in Yemen has called for teachers to strike this year (2017-2018) and not resume teaching before salaries have been paid. 

13,146 schools, which is around 78% of the total schools in Yemen, are affected by the non-payment of salaries. That would mean an additional four million children will be out of school on top of the 2.3 million who are currently denied an education.  

It is not merely a matter of principle. The union pointed out that “teachers and educators have not received their salaries since October 2016 and yet they continue teaching”. 

However, they cannot afford to do so any more. They do not have even transportation to school and many struggle to feed them and their families. 

Anwar Al-Athouri is one of these teachers. He had been teaching for 28 years at many schools in Taiz city.

Despite not being paid and the other challenges of the war in Yemen, such as air strikes on schools, blockades, cholera and hunger, Teacher Anwar continued teaching. 

While selling candy in the streets of the war-torn city, which is full of militants and known for violence, a bullet killed Teacher Anwar.

Ahlam Ahmed

Despite his passion for teaching, after a year of unpaid salaries, Teacher Anwar had to begin looking for other work in order to feed his starving family. Due to the conflict and instability in Yemen, jobs are hard to come by. 

After a long time of trying to find work disappointedly, Teacher Anwar turned to working on the streets of the city and on the sidewalks with a small wagon loaded with candy for children in the hope that he would earn enough to help his family survive. 

Unfortunately, while selling candy in the streets of the war-torn city, which is full of militants and known for violence, a bullet killed Teacher Anwar on August 4 this year.  

Now his son has had to take up his father’s wagon to try to provide for the family in his father’s absence. 

This is not an isolated story. Many children who lose their parents or the whole of their families have to leave school to provide for their family. It also increases the risk for girls of early marriage. 

If we cannot find a solution to both the war and unpaid teachers’ salaries, we run the real risk of a lost generation in Yemen.

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