Yemen: Nine years into conflict and two years into truce, school dropouts soar

The report, titled ‘Hanging in the Balance: Yemeni Children’s Struggle for Education’, found that one-third of families surveyed in Yemen have at least one child who has dropped out of school in the past two years despite the UN-brokered truce that took effect in 2022.

Although the truce officially expired in October 2022, parties have continued to adhere to its core elements and large-scale fighting has not reignited. However, while casualty rates have dropped, three-quarters of students (76%) reported that their sense of safety has not increased, with 14% of families citing violence as a direct cause of school dropouts.

The ongoing violence and the collapsed economy in Yemen have pushed two-thirds of the population below the poverty line and displaced an estimated 4.5 million people or 14% of the population, most of whom have been displaced multiple times.

Save the Children’s analysis found that displaced children are twice as vulnerable to school dropouts, and while returning to the area of origin reduces the vulnerability of internally displaced children to school dropouts by 20%, ongoing insecurity prevents their ability to return home.

Monthly school fees and the cost of textbooks are putting education out of reach for many, with 20% of families reporting they are unaffordable. Over 44% of caregivers and children surveyed said that the need to support their family’s income generation was a primary reason behind school dropouts.

Hani*, 48, is a teacher, who was compelled to withdraw two of his four daughters from school due to the high cost.

“School expenses for each child can reach more than 25% of my salary. My salary is 76,300 Riyals (approximately US$46), and that is not even enough to cover the food we need.”

The minimum food basket – the amount needed to sustain a family of seven for a month – costs 85 USD on average in Yemen.

Rami*, a 12-year-old boy, said he had to drop out of school to support his family. Rami* said:

“How can I go to school when I know we can’t cover our expenses and my siblings need food? I must leave school and work.”

Mohamed Mannaa, Save the Children Interim Country Director in Yemen said:

“Nine years into this forgotten conflict, we are confronting an education emergency like never before. Our latest findings must be a wake-up call and we must act now to protect these children and their future.

“While the truce reduced some violence, it hasn’t ever brought the stability families desperately need to rebuild their lives. Above everything else, families in Yemen need an official ceasefire; without one, families are left in limbo.

“We can’t let the children of Yemen, who yearn for nothing more than safety and the chance to learn, lose sight of a future filled with possibility. Every child in Yemen deserves to grow up with security, access to quality education, and a horizon filled with promise. The longer we wait, the harder it is to achieve long lasting impact.”

The impact of the education crisis on Yemen’s children and their future is profound. Without immediate intervention, an entire generation risks being left behind, with long-term consequences for the country’s recovery and development.

Save the Children calls on all stakeholders, including the Yemeni authorities, donor states, institutions, and humanitarian actors, to urgently address these challenges. This includes committing to a renewed peace process, ensuring the protection of schools and students, increasing funding for education, and scaling up integrated child protection interventions.

For over 60 years, Save the Children has been dedicated to supporting Yemen’s children. We’re currently active across 11 governorates, focusing on food security, health, nutrition, child protection, education, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) initiatives. Our work includes health and nutrition programs, access to education through non-formal learning and teacher training, child protection efforts, and strengthening community resilience with cash assistance and livelihood opportunities.

/Public Release. View in full here.