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Preprimary & Primary Education

Preprimary education, in the form of kindergartens and nursery schools, is still very much fledgling. In 1993-1994, the last year for which statistics were available, there were 62 public kindergartens with 680 teachers and a total student enrollment of 11,999, of which 47 percent were females. The figure had increased slightly from 1990-1991, when there were 51 kindergartens, 665 teachers, and 10,067 students. A report in the Yemen Times in May 1998, however, pointed to a strong growth from this low base. It stated that in the single school year 1995-1996, there were 110 new Preprimary schools opened, of which 43 were government schools and 63 private. This would indicate a dramatic growth, assuming that that particular year was not an anomaly and despite the fact that the private schools figure would include some nurseries.

Nurseries are much more numerous but are very expensive and, like kindergartens, not available everywhere. Despite this, there are estimated to be about 100,000 infants attending a nursery.

Primary education is, for the majority of Yemenis, their major education experience. With the education cycle of 9 years of primary and 3 years of secondary, with primary covering the ages of 6 to about 14, the primary level covers what many other countries consider both primary and lower secondary (or junior high school). It is, in other words, the mainstream level of education before students are then accepted into various streams of secondary school in preparation for a technical or education career or for tertiary study. By the end of primary level, therefore, students are expected to have basic skills in literacy, mathematics, and other core subjects and to have demonstrated their level of scholarly aptitude.

In 1993-1994, Yemen had 11,013 primary schools throughout the country with 2,678,863 students. In 1996-1997, the figure for the number of schools was not available, although the figure for the number of students had not increased significantly (only to 2,699,788). Given the rise in education spending and the fall in current spending as a proportion of this figure over the period, resources were going to other areas such as infrastructure and secondary education.

Completion rates for primary school are not high, partly as a result of the breadth of years covered at primary level, but also as a result of the cultural attitude towards education and the education expectations of parents. The former reason means that many students satisfy their educational needs before finishing high school; those that take up unskilled work, or who work with their parents in, for example, the family shop or farm, either do not perceive the need to continue to the completion of primary level, or their parents cannot afford to have them absent from the family business. The second reason, which involves cultural ones attitudes, is a common problem, but particularly so for females. In many cases, especially in rural areas, schools are simply too far from home and transport cannot be arranged or is not affordable. Less commonly, parents may be dissatisfied with the quality of teachers or materials. In the case of girls, especially in more traditional families, the parents do not see the need for extensive education, do not trust coeducational schools or male teachers, or simply cannot afford to have all their children fully educated and choose to educate the boys before the girls.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceYemen - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education