Despite a definition of inclusive education has not been found, the Mid Term Results Framework (MTRF) 2013-15 of the Yemen Education sector plan mentions as Priority 2 “Closing the gap of social and gender disparities through an equitable education system able to give equal opportunities at the start to every child, so they could compete fairly in the labour market of tomorrow” (p.11).
Special Education Needs
“Special needs” is mentioned many times in the MTRF 2013-2015. Under the section “special needs students”, the MTRF highlights that “(…) the number of enrolled students in public schools of special needs and who suffer from different handicaps have reached to about 120,721” (p. 24). Special Education Colleges provide education for of people with special human, academic and psychological needs, mostly because of disabilities.
Article 28 of the Education Law 45 (1992) states that the Yemeni state is to establish special schools and educational institutions to educate and care for those with disabilities to ensure that they receive basic education based on their needs. In parallel, Articles 4 and 5 of Law 61 for the care for and habitation of the disabled (1999) state that education is a right for persons with disabilities. The focus is on creating specialized centres and institutes where persons with disabilities would be trained and educated separately from other students.
According to the British Council, NGOs play a big role in the education of special needs students. For instance, in 2014, “200 schools [were] trying to include pupils with special needs in all classroom activities, and 80 schools [had] resources and equipment to help visually and hearing-impaired children. In some of these schools, children with special needs receive[d] an hour a day of individual tuition, spending the rest of their time in class with their peers”.
According to the UNICEF country report of 2015, “schools do not necessarily accept children with disabilities due to inaccessible buildings, lack of specialized teaching materials and staff as well as lack of transport to and from school”.
Specialist institutes exist for the education of students with specific groups of disabilities. For example, the Rehabilitation Institute for Special Education and Speech Education was the first institution to be opened for those with mental disabilities, cerebral palsy and hearing impairments.
Yemen has not signed or ratified the UN Convention against Discrimination in Education but ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990. Further, Article 54 of the Constitution (1991) states that education is a right for all citizens. The state shall guarantee education in accordance with the law through building various schools and cultural and educational institutions. Basic education is obligatory. It stipulates that the state must do its best to obliterate illiteracy and give special care to expanding technical and vocational education. In addition, Article 8 of the Education Law number 45 (1992) states that education is free in all its levels and that the state commits to apply and secure that gradually. The Yemeni government has therefore a commitment under law to provide universal, compulsory, free education to all children aged 6 to 14 years old. Moreover, a National Basic Education Development Strategy (NBED, 2003–2015) was launched in 2002 aimed to increase enrolment in basic education to reach 95% of 6 – 14-year-olds in Yemen by 2015. A national education plan exists for the years between 2013 and 2015 and a transition plan is under preparation. In 2017, Yemen endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration.
Yemen ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2009. Articles 4 and 5 of Law 61 (1999) state that education is a right for persons with disabilities. Additionally, the Law stipulates the right of persons with disabilities to get health, work and education and their right to accessible buildings. The National Strategy for Disability (2014-2018) introduces six strategic goals among which is: changing societal attitudes and perceptions of disability, revising current policies, integrating issues related to disability within various national policies, plans, strategies, programmes, and service-provision mechanisms and systems.
The Social Fund for Development was established by Law No. 10 of 1997 and one of its aims is to support “infrastructure and improving the quality of educational and social services provided for people with special needs, the rural extension of services, building the capacity of service providers, with an expansion in establishing the educational service provided for the visually impaired, targeting new segments of people with disabilities such as children with autism and learning difficulties and continuing support and develop policies and strategies based on a participatory and human rights approach”. One of its programmes aims to integrate children with special needs in general education by supporting the work of Ministries of Education and Social Affairs and their departments, establishing educational resource units, training people, providing schools with educational methods and tools, and strengthening the infrastructure of special education centres.
Yemen acceded the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Child protection programming targets boys and girls in schools across the country with life skills education, based on the UNICEF Life Skills and Citizenship Education Framework. This approach aims at keeping children in school and equipping them with core skills; this will contribute to the prevention of child marriage and recruitment into armed forces and groups. Adolescents who receive the life skills package become engaged in adolescent-led community-based initiatives and supported to act as agents of change in their communities on issues that matter to them, with a protection focus (for example child marriage) and gender equity approach. Because of the conflict, girls’ access to education has been deeply impacted.
Ethnicity and languages
The most important language in Yemen is Sanaani Arabic, which is spoken by both North Yemenis and Yemenis in Tihama (41.2 per cent). It is followed by Taizi-adeni Arabic (36 per cent), Hadrami Arabic (17 per cent), Somali Arabic (1.5 per cent), Sudanese Arabic (1.3 per cent), Hebrew (1 per cent), Omani Arabic (0.5 per cent), Sokotri (0.3 per cent), Mehri (0.3 per cent), Malay (0.1 per cent) and Mesopotamian Arabic. The following languages are spoken by small linguistic communities: Palestinian Arabic (or Northern Levantine), Western Farsi, Egyptian Arabic, Gulf Arabic, Standard Arabic, Judeo-Yemeni Arabic and Hobyot. Arabic remains the only language of instruction in public schools from primary school to university. The Ministry of National Education prescribes the teaching of English as a second language from primary school onwards. Public schools provide religious education exclusively for the Muslim religion, not for other religious denominations. However, almost all non-Muslims can receive their instruction in private schools, and they are considered foreigners.
Yemen voted in favour of adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
To ensure sufficient female teachers are assigned to rural areas, UNICEF continued support with the payment of salaries of 1,589 female teachers who work in these areas.
Poverty and other vulnerabilities
Yemen participated in a multi-year project led by UNESCO aimed to assess current status and help countries exchange experiences regarding successful inclusion of vulnerable groups including marginalized groups and students in conflict areas (organized by UNESCO’s offices in Beirut, Cairo and Paris and funded by the Sultan Bin Abdel Aziz Al-Saud Foundation). In addition, 1,595,247 children were reached through UNICEF support. With UNICEF Yemen assistance, 7,726 out-of-school children (including 3,419 girls) were integrated into formal education through supporting community-based-classes in Taiz, Abyan, Amran and Al-Hodeidah.
Three ministries manage education in Yemen: the Ministry of Education (MOE) for pre-basic, basic, and general secondary education; the Ministry of Technical and Vocational Education and Training forpost-basic Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and postsecondary TVET; and university education is under the mandate of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. The Ministry of Education established a unit dedicated to ‘inclusive education’ in 2014. In parallel, Law number 2 (2002) established the National Fund for the Care and Habilitation of the Disabled. With the National Fund for Development, both funds aim to improve opportunities for children with disabilities to access basic education and to improve their integration both socially and educationally. Finally, the Presidential Decree number 5 (1991) stipulated the establishment of the ‘Supreme Committee for the Care and Habilitation of Disabled Persons’ with the key objective to develop policies and national programs that are targeted towards serving persons with disabilities. The Committee is also mandated with coordinating efforts among various actors and entities concerned with serving that segment of society.
Concerning gender, the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, established in 1991, develops “country strategies and promotes policies aiming to improve the situation of motherhood and childhood in Yemen”.
The Ministry of Education has established a Safe Schools Committee to support the implementation of the Declaration and Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict.
According to the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack’s (GCPEA) report, Education under Attack 2018, Yemen was among the nine countries most heavily affected by attacks on education between 2013 and 2017. “Reports have indicated that between one-quarter to one-half of airstrikes have struck schools or universities in Saada governorate each year”. Armed forces and armed groups have used dozens of schools and universities for military purposes throughout the armed conflict in Yemen.
Concerning students with disabilities, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour in 2014, the number of accessible schools in Yemen does not exceed 20% of all schools across the country.
UNICEF Yemen provided WASH facilities in 218 schools were rehabilitated across seven governorates to benefit 172,155 (including 84,417 girls) school children. It also procured supplies to benefit children in school. This included desks for 1,350 children (including 746 girls), learning supplies for 41,907 children (including 20,568 girls), and 33,950 children (including 15,254 girls) received school snacks in four targeted governorates (two in the north and two in the south).
Article 6 of Law number 61 (1999) states that the Ministry of Insurances and Social Affairs is responsible to work with concerned entities to prepare curricula and learning materials for centres as well as ensure the availability of teachers as well as personnel specialized in Braille and developing curricula for persons with visual impairments. Further, Article 8(e) of this same Law states that the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs is to coordinate with public and private universities and colleges to create departments specialized in habilitating and developing specialized curricula for them.
Article 8(d) of Law number 61 (1999) for the care for and habilitation of the disabled states the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs is to coordinate with universities and various institutes to prepare specialized educators to be responsible for special education programmes, vocational training, cultural programmes, media programs, and training them to help address needs of the disabled and to help them develop their knowledge. Decision 152 (1990) emphasized the importance of integrating care and habilitation for persons with disabilities issues into programmes and curricula of Sanaa and Aden Universities.
Between 2011 and 2014, the British Council has run training and awareness programmes across Yemen to foster inclusion. These have included the provision of training for nearly 1,500 teachers and 30 head teachers “and introduced more than 1,500 Yemeni schoolchildren to the importance of respecting SEN at school assemblies”.
The Capacity Development for Education (CapED) Programme first started supporting psychosocial support training in Yemen in 2017. When completed, the programme will have trained master trainers from both sides of the conflict in psychosocial support who will then go onto train local governorate focal points. They will in turn train up to 320 primary and secondary school teachers across 24 schools. CapED replicated the psychosocial support initiative in Syria and expanded it to offer it as part of the Second Chance Program (UNESCO, 2019). UNICEF also supported teachers through providing financial incentives, despite the risks and initial lack of support. It provided additional education-related support interventions through the training of 4,055 teachers on psychosocial support, resulting in 133,356 children (including 55,127 girls) who were better supported to cope with the trauma of the conflict. In addition, 662,927 children (including 285,059 girls) in the north and south were able to sit for the grade 9 to 12 exams with UNICEF support of the payment of related fees for the school year 2017/2018.
A Faculty of Special Education was established in the University of Azal. Another Department of Special Education was established in 2004 in the College of Education - Taiz University.
Yemen has no national education monitoring report. Further, it was unclear from all the available laws and documents reviewed what types of monitoring and reporting are in place regarding inclusive education in Yemen. However, one of the objectives of the GPE is the modernization of the EMIS.