Renewed plea to pay teachers in war-torn Yemen

Continued salary freeze will lead to ‘total collapse’ of education sector, say children’s groups

epa06421317 Yemeni students stand beside a sign on a wall reading in Arabic 'Yemen is in our hearts. I love you Yemen' during morning assembly at al-Sadaiq primary school, in Sana'a, Yemen, 03 January 2018 (Issued 06 January 2018). Despite the ongoing conflict, approximately 90 percent of schools in Yemen are still functioning and trying to serve over 4.5 million students. The schools are operational only for two hours a day as a result of the strike by approximately 300 thousand teachers and other education staff, who demand their salaries, which remain unpaid for more than a year, forcing Houthi-held authorities to bring unqualified volunteers to teach students.  EPA/YAHYA ARHAB

Further delay in paying Yemeni teachers will lead to the “total collapse” of the country’s education sector and affect millions of children, leading children’s groups warned on Monday.

If the school system collapses, vulnerable children will be more likely to be fall victim to child labour, recruitment into armed groups and forces, child marriage, trafficking and other forms of exploitation and abuse, the four organisations said in a statement.

The Global Partnership for Education, Education Cannot Wait, Unesco and Unicef said a minimum of $70 million is needed from the international community to end violence against children in Yemen and protect their health and right to education.

Yemen has been mired in conflict since 2014 when the Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, pushed the internationally recognised government out of Sanaa.

The country has also suffered heavily from the coronavirus pandemic, with a health system already under strain before the crisis and a lack of clean water to maintain basic hygiene standards.

Combined with flooding, other prevalent diseases - cholera, measles and polio - and poverty, these factors have pushed more than 2 million children out of school and put at risk 5.8 million children who enrolled in school before the pandemic.

The warning coincides with World Teachers’ Day on Monday.

The organisations called for the resumption of salary payments for around half of the Yemeni teachers and around 160,000 school-based staff who have not received regular salary payments since 2016.

With suspended salaries and schools regularly coming under attack, many teachers have been forced to find alternative sources of income to provide for their families.

“The global community must unite to end violence against children in Yemen and protect their health and right to education. Without a collective commitment to action, we will fail to meet the 2030 Agenda – ‘Leaving no child and no teacher behind’.

"A minimum of $70 million is needed to help address this gap and ensure teachers can receive a payment during the 2020-21 school year,” the statement said.

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