History of Education

According to Yemen's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper 2002, basic education is still unable to provide for all children of schooling age (6-14). Yemen's primary school enrollment rates have increased from 73 to 87% for males and from 28 to 63% for females between 1991 and 2004. The main educational problems in Yemen are a weak education system, population dispersion, insufficient public funding, lack of the institutional capacity necessary to efficiently deliver basic education services, and the need of children to work to support their families are the main factors that deter children from attending schools. There are also social factors contributing to deterring children, and girls in particular from attending school, such as long distance from the school, lack of transportation, and single-sex schools in rural areas, low levels of teacher training and qualification, gaps in enrollment between boys and girls, weak institutional capacity from the Ministry to school levels, and low community participation.

The government's effort for education started in 1962 when the Yemen Arab Republic was established. During the 1970s, Yemen saw an expansion of basic education; however, there was a certain disparity between North and South, and they adapted very different education policies until its unification in 1990. Traditionally, North Yemen has been a much closed society and education was limited only to religious schools where children memorized the Koran, or to schools run by local initiatives. However, not all children could have access to these schools, and the majority of the students were boys, while few girls attended.

The development of education in South Yemen began in 1967 after British withdrawal. During the British occupation of South, education was available only in Aden. Primary and intermediate schools existed in each small township of Steamer Point, Crater, Shaikh Othman, etc. There was only one girls' secondary school in Khormaksar and two private schools were in Crater and Steamer Point

During the 1970s, several education plans were made for the new republic and the educational situation of the South had really taken off that of the North. The education system in the north adapted 6-3-3 (6 years of primary school, 3 years of preparatory, 3 years of secondary). The south also adapted the same education system; however, it changed to 8-4 (8 years integrated school, 4 years of secondary school). Secondary education had a choice of academic, vocational, technical or teacher training education.

After the unification of North and South Yemen in 1990, these two education systems were merged into a single system, and 9-3 (9 years of basic education, 3 years of secondary education) was adapted. Along with that, enrollment was diversified into the science and literary tracks in grades 11 and 12. The unified Yemen was facing several educational problems such as lack of a budget for education, lack of government leadership, lack of Yemeni teachers, overcrowding and inefficiency in management. In the same year as its unification, the World Conference on Education for All was held in Jomtien, Thailand. In response to this conference, Yemen's Ministry of Education had developed several national education strategies with the cooperation of the World Bank and donor countries.