Index / Education
Yemen had deep into the 20th century no formal structure for education, what was offered were mosque-run schools, where little beyond Islamic subjects and writing and reading Arabic was taught.
Yemen was unified in 1990, and before this the two earlier countries, North Yemen and South Yemen, developed different educational systems. South Yemen was the first to develop structures of some formal character. North Yemen was more conservative, for long leaving its Islamic institutions unchallenged. In the 1960's and 1970's, changes happened in both countries, and by the time they united, North Yemen had a system of 6 years primary, 3 years preparatory, and 3 years secondary education; whereas South Yemen had 8 years integrated, and 4 years secondary.
Since unification, the two different school systems have been integrated into one system: 9 years of basic education, and 3 years of secondary education. Yemen has a general system of mixed schools,
Yemen has for decades been a poor performer in the field of education, but since 2000 ambitious goals have been defined, aiming at by 2025, making education available to all, and obtaining full attendance in school and reducing illiteracy to less than 10%.
Although primary enrollment rates in Yemen are low, there have significant improvement over recent years. From 1991 to 2004, boy attendance increased from 73% to 87%, while there for girls was quite a revolution, up from 28% to 63%. A major challenge with this is that many stay in school for only a few years.
The gender difference that exists in Yemen has several reasons related to culture and tradition. Many consider education for girls unneccessary, even the youngest girls may serve important functions in the family and be part of the family economy, and with a future preset for early marriage and a traditional life in which formal education is of minimal value. For many families there may also be direct expenses in sending girls off to school, forcing them to choose the investment in the future of their sons. Also, many parents are reluctant of moral reasons, many schools are mixed and with male teachers.
There are also great differences in education between cities and rural areas. Schooling is less likely to qualify for work life in rural areas, and services are often insufficient.
The quality of teachers is a major challenge in Yemen, much more than in most other MENA countries. In addition to a general inadequate training, there are often too many teachers in one specialization and too few in another.
Expenditure on education was estimated at 9.6% of GDP in 2001, which is a high number, but considering the economic situation of the country it still only amounts to $250/capita if compared to 2008 GDP.
Yemen has one the lowest literacy rates of the MENA region. Goals of reducing this significantly have been defined, aiming at less than 10% by 2025, but actual programs to realize this have been few. There are no actual efforts of teaching illiterate adults, it appears that general schooling for children is the one single method of reducing illiteracy.
In the preparation of Contents, no information about education for pupils with impairments have been found. Considering the general shortcomings of the Yemeni school system, a special focus on the weakest pupils seems to be a luxury for the future.
Public kindergartens have primary been established since the 1990's, and there has been a fast growth. There are several private institutions, then usually only in larger towns and cities. A very low number of Yemeni children attend kindergartens.
The kindergartens that exist usually have a form of pedagogical program.
Primary education is 9 years, beginning at the age of 6. It is by law compulsory, but the authorities do not enforce this, and 2005 figures show that 19% of boys do not attend and 26% of girls. Many not attending are in areas with limited services, but even in the larger cities where there are the necessary infrastructures, a substantial number of kids are not sent to school.
Yemen has a curriculum based upon Western curriculum, but with a large part of the teaching hours dedicated to Islamic subjects.
Upon completing primary education, pupils receive the Intermediate School Certificate, which grant access to secondary education.
Secondary education is generally 3 years. 2005 figures show that only 46% of boys attend school, and 30% of girls. This is far below MENA average of 75% for the sexes combined. Completion rates are, however, better at more than 90%.
Secondary schools in Yemen are divided between academic; technical; vocational; veterinary; health; and agricultural. The first year is shared by all pupils, specialization is introduced the second school year. Many Yemeni secondary schools are small, which means that they cannot sustain many necessary and specialized functions.
Academic is preparing pupils for higher education.
There are alternatives to the public schools: Islamic schools; and private secular schools that often offer education superior to that of the public schools, following independent plans from the government schools.
Upon completing secondary education, pupils pass general examination, to obtain the General Secondary Education Certificate.
Technical and Vocational
Yemen is in the process of developing technical and vocational programs, both for those with only basic educaiton, as well as for those finishing secondary. These programs are still very limited both in capacity and specializations.
Vocational training in Yemen is still organized according to traditional patterns, where the young receive direct instruction from a master.
Entry into higher education is based upon the results of the General Secondary Education Certificate, and requirements vary between schools and faculties. There is a fierce competition to enter the most popular courses.
Yemen has one of the lowest attendance rates for higher education in the MENA region.
Higher institutions in Yemen suffer from shortage of qualified teachers, and all but a few institutions are poorly equipped. A very small number of young Yemenis go abroad for studies, about 300 to 400 every year. Many of these come from rich families, where there is a high preference for studying at foreign institutions.
In the creation of Contents, no good data to the exact number of universities in Yemen could be found. LookLex only finds definite information about 10, whereas other sources, like Wikipedia, indicate 7 public plus 5 private and religious universities.
University programs are generally 4 years. Engineering takes 5 years, and Medicine 6 years.
Other higher institutions offer 2 year programs, which are considered inferior and an alternative only if one fails to qualify for university.
Yemen universities have problems graduating students with qualifications needed in work life; many prefer theoretical studies.
Yemeni universities suffer from having limited or no research programs.