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Too many kids out of school in Hodeidah Governorate.

Nearly half of children in rural areas of the western Yemeni governorate of Hodeidah, have no access to basic education, according to a new report by the Seyaj Organization for Childhood Protection (SOCP) and the Yemen News Agency.<p>A survey was conducted on a random sample of 3,249 boys and girls from 1,542 families in the districts of Lihyah, Zahrah and Beit al-Faqih, said Fahd al-Sabri, lead author of the report.

The survey results, announced on 18 November, indicate that 45 percent of boys and 52 percent of girls in the 6-15 age group have no access to basic education - for several reasons, including vulnerability of their families, lack of schools and teachers, or schools being far away from their homes, al-Sabri told IRIN.

In two villages (each having an average of 110 children), the enrolment rate was zero, he said, adding: "96 percent of mothers and 65 percent of fathers in surveyed families [there] cannot read and write."

According to the government's Central Statistical Organization, 1.5 million of Hodeida's 2.4 million people live in rural areas.

There is no doubt that school enrolment rates for some governorates, including Hodeida, remain a huge concern for Yemen, Naseem Ur-Rehman, a spokesman for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Yemen, told IRIN.

Enrolment rates for primary, secondary and tertiary schools in Yemen, where nearly 42 percent of its 22 million population lives below the poverty line, is 55.2 percent, according to the UN Development Fund (UNDP).



Rampant poverty is forcing thousands of rural families to send their children to the city to beg or work in the streets, cleaning cars or toiling in restaurants or `qat' (mildly narcotic leaf frequently chewed by Yemenis) markets at the expense of their education, according to Talal al-Dubai, supervisor of a Hodeida orphanage.

"In 2008, we gathered up to 240 street children, rehabilitated them and sent them back to their families," al-Dubai told IRIN. "We enrolled 180 of them (under age 10) in schools, gave them bags, uniforms, and reached agreements with school administrations to exempt them from tuition fees, while those aged 10-17 had access to vocational training in order to help them support their vulnerable families."

The report recommended that children from vulnerable families be exempted from tuition fees and given transport and grants to boost enrolment in schools.

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Publication:Yemen Times (Sana'a, Yemen)
Date:Dec 1, 2009
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