As war rages in Yemen, students take their final exams

Children in conflicts, Education in emergencies

Girls sit their final secondary school exams in Sana’a

More than 3600 schools have closed and 1.8 million children are missing out on education. Hundreds of children have been killed and injured and there has been a sharp increase in the recruitment of child soldiers.

Yemen is in the grip of a conflict that threatens to create another “lost generation” like the one in Syria, according to the United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.

Taking university entrance exam at Omar bin Abdul Aziz High

But in the midst of the disease, the hunger and the fear that has come with the fighting, students sat at school desks in the capital Sana’a over the past two days to take their final secondary school and university entrance exams.

Almost 400 schools have been destroyed or badly damaged by the shelling or airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition since the end of March. But all these students want to do is continue with their education.

Going through the exam paper at school in Sana’a

The Yemeni education ministry had promised that the 12th grade exams would go ahead despite the conflict.

Amani Abdulrahman, an A World at School Global Youth Ambassador from Yemen, reported two weeks ago: “The ministry has been speaking with the students whose families have been displaced so that they can take their exams in any school where the security situation permits.

Female students wait outside before sitting exams

“If Saudi Arabia bombs the areas of the exams, the government will have to delay the exams. The students who live in dangerous provinces like Taiz and Aden will take the exam after the war.”

Students in Yemen are among many millions around the world who are missing out on education because of conflicts. The Oslo Education Summit in July agreed the Global Humanitarian Platform and Fund for Education in Emergencies is desperately needed if record-breaking numbers of displaced children are to go to school.

Students take university entrance exam amidst turmoil

Options on how to move forward with this quickly are being worked on and will be presented to the UN General Assembly in late September.

The UN’s Leila Zerrougui said in a statement last week that Yemen has become “another stark example of how conflict in the region risks creating a lost generation of children, who are physically and psychologically scarred by their experiences, deprived of educational opportunities, and who face an uncertain future”.

Children look at damage following an air-strike by coalition today

The Special Representative added: “Children are paying an unacceptable price, and the ever mounting death toll tragically underscores the need for urgent action to protect them and other civilians.”

In a blog for the Huffington Post yesterday, UNICEF UK Executive Director David Bull said: “Too many children in Yemen are frightened, hungry, at risk of disease and violence. Hundreds have lost lives, family members, schools and homes to the bombs and bullets. Some children are even being recruited into armed factions when they should be in school and having a decent childhood.

“The conflict in Yemen is a tragedy for the country’s children. I wish I could make it stop.”

More news

See all news