Conflict Article

‘Our duty to the children’

War in Yemen has not dampened teacher Abdullah Yahya’s passion for educating the next generation

“What inspired me to become a teacher in the first place was to deliver a message,” says Abdullah Yahya, a teacher and principal at the Al Wahda school in Saada, Yemen. That message is about the importance of learning, no matter what the circumstances. Now, after seven years of conflict in Yemen, the importance of learning is more critical than ever.

In 2021, UNICEF estimated that the number of children out of school has doubled since the conflict started in 2015, amounting to nearly 2 million boys and girls without the opportunity to receive an education.  But that has not stopped many teachers like Abdullah Yahya. “We do our duty towards these children by educating, teaching, and raising them properly in spite of our, and our country’s, current situation”.

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As the principal of the Al Wahda school, Abdullah Yahya, has a supervisor role to ensure that, as far as possible, students receive quality education. He also teaches Arabic to primary school students.

Teachers are in short supply in Yemen. Many lost everything, had to flee the fighting, or had to find other work. It’s estimated that more than 170,000 teachers have not received a regular salary for more than four years.

Listening attentively, a group of boys gather around their teacher in one of the school’s open areas.

For Abdullah, the willingness of children to attend to school and continue learning is inspiring. “ They have the motivation to learn despite the circumstances and difficulties in attending school and the shortage of school books”, he explains.

The conflict means that teachers here often have many duties. In one of the classrooms, teacher Abdullah Yahya arranges food sacks that are delivered on a monthly basis to around 620 families.

During the summer holidays, some classrooms at Al Wahda school are used as to distribute humanitarian aid.

“Along with my work as a teacher, I also work with others to distribute food,” Abdullah says. “Most families suffer from a very bad economic situation, and that’s what makes us join this humanitarian effort.”

The Yemen Red Crescent distributes shelter material and food to many residents in Saada. Besides his work as a teacher, Abdullah volunteers with the Red Crescent distributing food and material for shelter to those in most need in this community.

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