Ongoing “war of ignorance” waged by parties to the conflict in Yemen
Mwatana launches “War of Ignorance” field study and “Chalk Dust” documentary on the impact of war on education in Yemen
Sana’a – Six years of raging conflict in Yemen has caused enormous damage to the education sector and caused significant damage to the education system, Mwatana for Human Rights said today.
For International Education Day, Mwatana launched a field study, “War of Ignorance,” which examines the impact of armed conflict on education in Yemen, and a documentary, “Chalk dust” which is based on the field study, Mwatana’s August 2020 report, “Undermining the Future: Attacks of warring parties on Yemen’s schools,” and additional testimonials from students, teachers and parents.
Education is vitally important and has been significantly undermined by the war in Yemen. The “War of Ignorance” study examines the various effects that the armed conflict has had on the public education sector in Yemen since the war began in September 2014, when the forces of Ansar Allah (Houthi) and the Forces loyal to former President Saleh entered the capital Sana’a. by force. The study examines the impacts of the war on the education system, the educational process and the physical structure of educational facilities and centers in a number of primary and secondary schools. It also examines the implications for students and teachers, including students who have been displaced by the conflict and those who have dropped out of school.
“The parties to the conflict in Yemen have caused serious damage to current and future generations in Yemen by attacking, interfering with and fundamentally disrespecting the education sector,” said Radhya Al-Mutawakel, president of Mwatana for Human Rights. “The belligerents should immediately cease their attacks on education and start seeing education as deserving of respect and protection. The international community should support accountability and redress efforts in Yemen, including those related to education. “
The Mwatana study is based on a random sample of 700 respondents. This included a core sample of 400 male and female students of varying ages from 137 public schools in eight governorates: Taiz, Al-Hudaydah, Sanaa (governorate), Aden, Abyan, Dhale, Hajjah, Saada and Sana’a (the capital city ). The study also included three smaller samples – of displaced students, dropouts, and teachers – each based on 100 respondents from the same governorates and schools as the main sample. Governorates were selected on the basis of those whose education sectors appeared to have suffered the most direct damage as a result of the armed conflict, based on ongoing documentation from Mwatana since September 2014, and to ensure geographic diversity and l inclusion of governorates under the control of the different parties to the conflict. .
A trained and specialized team of data collectors and researchers collected information by visiting schools during the 2019/2020 academic year, specifically between February and early April 2020. The team used a standardized individual interview including closed questions and some open questions. The team also made a number of visits to internally displaced people living near schools and made visits to residential areas near schools to interview drop-out students or their parents.
The study examines six main aspects of the impact of armed conflict on the education sector in Yemen. The study examines the general context and the relevant legal framework, the various impacts of the conflict on students, including safe access to school and the continuity of the educational process, student dropout in the context of the conflict, conflict displacement and education, the various impacts of conflict on teachers and how education in turn impacts conflict.
The findings of the study highlight the many negative impacts of conflict on students. For example, 81% of respondents in the core sample of 400 students had to stop studying for varying periods of time due to the armed conflict. Students reported various causes that made access to schools impossible, including direct damage to schools, including total or partial destruction by airstrikes or military clashes nearby, and the use of schools as barracks. military, shelters for displaced persons and aid distribution centers.
In terms of displacement, 67% of the displaced students surveyed said that military clashes caused their displacement. Other reported reasons included exposure of houses to ground shelling, air strikes on houses, and lack of employment opportunities in the home community.
About a quarter, 24.6%, of the main sample of 400 students had been exposed to various forms of physical and verbal hazards or violence on the way to school. 38.8% said their families temporarily tried to prevent them from going to school due to safety concerns during the 2019/2020 school year. 59.5% of the students in the main sample said that they did not receive their textbooks from school, but had to buy them second-hand.
More than half, 51.5%, of the students surveyed came from low-income families. If the conflict continues, it seems likely that a significant number of students will drop out of school: 47.2% of the student sample said their families were no longer able to pay for their education.
With regard to dropouts, 48.3% of the students in the sample of dropouts were forced to leave school because of the poor financial conditions of their families. Other students found themselves out of school for a variety of reasons, including the inadequate educational environment, family’s lack of interest in education, schools far from their place of residence, and psychological pressures caused by the conflict. Some students have dropped out of school to fight for one of the parties to the conflict.
The conflict also significantly affected teachers. Teachers reported suffering from widespread salary cuts, poor economic conditions, negative psychological effects of conflict and poverty, consequences of conflict on security, including persecution, pressure or threats due to some of their positions or opinions, and having had to adapt their teaching practices to one of the parties to the conflict.
In the “War of Ignorance” study, Mwatana makes a number of recommendations. Mwatana calls on the international community to support accountability and redress efforts for violations committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen, including those related to education. Mwatana calls for swift action to deal with belligerent interference in education, using schools to convey political messages and giving people authority in schools who have no role in it. education.
Mwatana calls on the parties to the conflict to stop all forms of attacks on schools. To ensure the continuity of education, Mwatana calls on warring parties to do more to ensure the safety of schools, educational institutions and the areas around them, including removing barricades and military checkpoints and banning the use of weapons near schools and educational establishments, respect the civil status of educational establishments and schools, and ensure the safe passage of pupils, teachers and education workers out of schools in areas witnessing clashes. Warring parties should also immediately stop targeting, threatening, harassing and interfering with students, teachers and education workers, including to express their views.
Mwatana also calls for stronger international pressure to ensure that teachers receive their salaries, including not tying the payment of salaries to a final and comprehensive political solution, and assistance in printing unaltered textbooks for students.
In August 2020, Mwatana released the report “Undermine the future” which examined attacks on schools and educational institutions in Yemen between March 2015 and December 2019. The report was based on 380 attacks by all parties to the conflict, including 153 airstrikes, 36 ground shelling, 171 incidents occupation and use of schools; and 20 other incidents impacting schools, such as the laying of landmines near schools and looting.