Jane Marriott, British Ambassador to Yemen

Jane Marriott

British Ambassador to Yemen

Part of UK in Yemen

27th May 2014 Sana’a, Yemen

Building an education, building the future


There are many immediate urgent challenges in Yemen: preventing violence, achieving a peaceful political transition, balancing the books, and responding to a humanitarian crisis to name a few. The urgency of these issues, however, should not blind us to challenges that are equally important, but less immediately apparent or urgent.

Education is a classic example. The 1.6 million children out of school in Yemen can seem invisible. They do not present any threat to Yemen but failure to educate them limits their future and that of the whole country. Investment in education yields massive returns for the individual and their family.

Education in Yemen is a priority for the UK and we are working to support it in a variety of ways.

Firstly, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) funded by the UK, works in Yemen. The GPE operates in almost 60 countries and is focussed on providing good quality education for all. It brings together donors and developing countries, multilateral agencies, civil society organisations and the private sector in supporting the education sector in developing countries. The UK is the largest donor to the GPE providing 24% of the total funding to the end of 2013, including £12 million over two years in Yemen. In Yemen UNICEF manage GPE to build new and better school facilities, and to improve the quality of education through improved curricula and training for teachers.

The UK also supports education in Yemen through the Social Fund for Development (SFD), to which the UK is providing £100 million of funding from 2011 to 2015. Education is a top priority for SFD and the total funding for education (from the UK and other donors) over this period is $390m. This supports school building and teacher training across the whole country.

SFD is a non-government organisation, but works closely with the Government of Yemen to ensure that teachers are provided for new schools that they build. Since 2011 UK support to SFD has funded the construction or rehabilitation of over 700 classrooms, enabling more than 33,000 children to go to school, including more than 16,000 girls. UK funding has also enabled SFD to train 370 teachers and other educational professionals during this time: we need good teachers who want to educate a generation as well as the places in which to teach them.

Finally, we also support the Partnership for Education Development (PFED) programme with the World Bank, which is operating in Yemen. The UK provides over £3.8 million of PEED’s global £4.9 million budget. In Yemen, the PFED programme is funding research and analysis into teacher training that will make teachers more effective at their jobs.

This combination of funding makes education one of the highest funded sectors by the UK in Yemen. However, our support, and that from other donors is not enough to transform education in Yemen. It is critical that the Government restructures its support for education and increases its funding. Currently only 18% of the budget goes on Education, while over 25% goes on fuel subsidies.

It is also very important that the Government does more to enrol girls and keep them in school. Their access to education is a fundamental human right, and there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that educating girls can fundamentally transform a country’s prospects. Research shows that on average, when a girl completes more than seven years of education, she marries four years later and has at least 2 fewer children than would otherwise be the case (essential in Yemen, given the constraints on natural resources, such as water). Her children are also healthier and better educated themselves. Increasing the share of women with secondary education by just 1% can also boost annual per capita income growth by 0.3%.

Other factors also affect the ability of children to receive an education and achieve their full potential. Globally, nearly one in four children under the age of five (165 million or 26 per cent in 2011) are stunted, but in Yemen this doubles to one in two (2 million or 58 per cent in 2012). Stunting, or low height for age, is associated with impaired brain development, which is likely to have long-lasting negative consequences throughout a child’s life. Reduced school attendance and diminished educational outcomes mean these children will earn less once they become adults. A 2007 study estimated an average 22 per cent loss of yearly income in adulthood. The UK is providing £35 million for a nutrition programme, run by UNICEF, which will treat or prevent malnutrition in 1.4 million women and children under the age of 5.

The Revolution began with Yemen’s youth and it needs future generations of young to carry on that revolution. High quality education is therefore essential to equip these children with the tools to realise their full potential. As Yemenis come together in the political transition process to shape a better future, it is vital that the citizens of tomorrow have the education and skills they need to make that vision a reality.

2 comments on “Building an education, building the future

  1. we trust u, we know that u love yemen and u will di the best to help yemenis people to build this country

  2. It is really good to understand the good that is possble with funding from the UK.

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