First Published: 2010-06-08

 
Paying girls is paying off for Yemen school attendance
 

Yemeni government’s strategy aims to have 90 percent of all girls in school by end of year.

 

Middle East Online

Offering financial incentives to parents in the rural areas

SANAA - A two-year-old government scheme offering financial incentives to parents in the rural areas of two of the country’s poorest governorates to send their daughters to school or to prevent them from dropping out is paying off as girls' enrollment rates have increased by around 9 percent in the targeted schools, according to education officials.

As part of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme, education departments in the southern governorate of Lahj and the western governorate of Hodeida are giving girls an annual stipend of YR 8,000 (US$35) in two installments, according to deputy education minister Lutfiya Hamza.

"To get this money, the girl must attend at least 80 percent of classes each semester,” Hamza told IRIN.

The scheme is part of the education ministry's Basic Education Development Project (BEDP), supported by the World Bank, the UK Department for International Development and the Netherlands government.

The objective of BEDP is to assist Yemen in expanding the provision of quality basic education for all with particular attention on gender equity.

Gender gap

According to a 2007 UN Development Programme report, 43 percent of girls and 67 percent of boys were enrolled in primary, secondary and tertiary education in the country. In addition, only 35 percent of girls were literate, compared with 73 percent of boys.

The Yemeni government’s education strategy aims to have 90 percent of all girls in school by the end of this year and 95 percent by 2015. It also aims to reduce the gap of boys’ and girls’ enrollment to 11 percent.

The incentive scheme seeks to reduce poverty and population growth rates by ensuring girls are educated.

“In Yemen, poverty is associated with the rapid population growth,” Ahmad al-Arashi, head of BEDP, said. “When girls attain higher levels of education, they will be aware of family planning and birth spacing, which are the key to alleviating poverty.”

He said many social problems, including early marriage and child malnourishment, are symptomatic of the high female illiteracy rate in Yemen.

“By having access to education and completing their education, girls will refuse to marry at an early age,” he said. “Also, their parents will not force their daughters to marry at a younger age when they see them going to school with the support from CCT.”

In Lahj, the distribution of a CCT installment recently ended on 24 May.

“Up to 28,000 girls in grades four to nine in 216 schools in the governorate received incentives from the scheme this year [2009-2010 academic year],” Ali Ahmad al-Salami, head of Lahj Provincial Education Office, said.

In Hodeida, the scheme is benefitting some 6,700 girls, according to deputy education minister Hamza.

"Waste of money"

However, convincing parents of the benefits of sending their daughters to school is an uphill struggle. Many families, particularly in rural areas, say it is a "waste of money", Hamza said. "After grade five or six, girls stay home to cook and fetch water and firewood until they get married.”

Because jobs are limited for women in Yemen, poor families often feel it is better to educate their sons as they will have more opportunities, she said.

Thousands of rural families in Lahj cannot afford to pay for their children’s education.

“Poverty is the main obstacle hindering education in general and girls’ education in particular,” Salah Salim, a local councilor in the governorate, said. "In many rural areas, a seven-member family lives on less than YR1,000 [US$4.5] a day, and therefore resorts to keeping their daughters out of school.”

Abdullah al-Subaihi, a day labourer from Tor al-Baha district in Lahj Governorate, said he only sends his two sons to school. "None of my three teenage daughters go to school because we don't have enough money," he said.

Andrew Moore, Yemen Country Director of NGO Save the Children (SC), said further awareness raising of the benefits of educating girls was necessary in rural communities.

"We use specific examples such as the link between malnutrition and education: the higher educated the mothers in households are generally, the less malnourished children are," Moore said.

© IRIN

 

Air strikes kill 150 militants fleeing Fallujah

UN envoy seeks Syria peace talks’ resumption in July

41 killed in Istanbul airport bomb, gun attacks

EU agrees to opens new chapter with Turkey on accession talks

Egypt becoming departure country for migrants to Europe

Palestinian killed by Israeli troops after deadly attack

Tunisian killed in Istanbul attack seeking to repatriate IS-linked son

Turkish forces kill 2 suspected IS jihadists at Syria border

Egypt president urges religious reforms to counter extremists

First aid convoy since 2012 enters two besieged Syria towns

Race to succeed Cameron begins after stunning Brexit vote

Yemen peace talks to take two-week break

Iraq secures $2.7 billion US military loan

ISIS pushes back Syria rebel offensive on Iraq route

Israel cabinet approves Turkey reconciliation deal

Turkey airport attack slams limping tourism industry

Putin lifts Turkey travel restrictions, orders trade 'normalised'

Fears for stranded Syrian refugees as Jordan blocks access

Bahrain activist back in jail despite worsening health

Witnesses recount Istanbul attack

Car bomb kills 10 in Kurdish-held Syria town

Ban to Israeli PM: Gaza blockade ‘collective punishment’

Alstom-led consortium awarded $2.88 billion Dubai metro extension

Democratic hopes fade away in Egypt

US-backed Syria rebels advance on key IS link to Iraq

Israel revokes controversial 'Hannibal Directive'

Detained Bahraini activist hospitalised

UN chief urges Netanyahu to make tough choices

Saudi Aramco, SABIC in joint petrochemicals study

Yemen clashes, air strikes kill 37 civilians

Egypt's anti-graft tsar becomes public enemy number one

Iraqis shun return to 'cursed' Fallujah

Lebanese army raids refugee camps after bombings

Ankara goes back on compensation offer for downed Russia jet

Iraq court deals blow to PM's cabinet reform efforts

UAE jails Emirati woman for spying for Hezbollah

Eight hurt in Turkey car bombing blamed on PKK

Iran hopes Saudi embassy attack trial will restore confidence

France charges Assad's uncle with graft

EgyptAir black box flight recorder 'repaired'

11 Kurdish rebels, 3 Revolutionary Guards killed in Iran

Egypt deports British-Lebanese TV show host

Turkey seeks to restore broken ties with Russia

Deadly bombings target Yemen troops in ex-Qaeda bastion

NGOs press EU leaders on Africa migrant plan