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Teaching Profession

According to one figure, Yemen had 85,688 teachers in 1996 across all levels, of which 79,044 were Yemeni nationals and 6,644 were non-Yemenis. This was probably a low estimate that did not include religious, private, or technical tertiary teachers. The true current (2001) figure is probably much higher, perhaps circa 120,000-125,000 plus some casual or informal teachers and private tutors. The figures (unfortunately available only for different years) for the various levels of education include the following. For preprimary education in 1993-1994, there were 680 teachers. At primary level in 1996-1997, there were 90,478 teachers, of which 17 percent were female, and a teacher to pupil ratio of 1 to 29.9. For secondary level education in 1996-1997, there were 13,787 teachers, of which 23 percent were female, and a teacher to pupil ratio of 1 to 25.7. A breakdown is not available of the teaching community for this level, although student figures, which would be similar for teaching numbers, were 81 percent in general education, 4 percent in teacher training, and 15 percent in vocational training. For tertiary level in 1991-1992, there were 1,800 teaching staff, of which 12 percent were female, and a teacher to pupil ratio of 1 to 29.5 (although this figure was from the time when there were only 2 universities rather than the current 15).

The usual mode of entry into the profession is to obtain a university degree or teaching institute qualification. Secondary education by itself has traditionally been adequate to teach at preprimary and primary levels, although this is changing and a diploma, or even a university degree, is becoming standard for any teaching position. University graduates wishing to teach at secondary level usually take a diploma from a teaching institute after studying. For older teachers who qualified without a degree or the formal qualifications typical today, the Ministry of Education runs mid-career and summer training courses to improve teacher skills. At universities, a doctorate is becoming standard for teachers in most disciplines with Yemeni nationals teaching at this level having higher degrees from a variety of places, including the United States, Europe, the former-USSR, and other Arab countries.

As a generalization, teaching, like most forms of public service, pays very poorly. As an indication, teachers earn around US$100 to $150 per month, slightly more at university level, and a little more again at senior levels such as headmaster or full professor. Furthermore, at times salaries have been paid late. To place salary levels in perspective, some example of costs (to live comfortably, but not luxuriously, with a family of five) are: rent on a small house for a family costs about US$100 to $120 per month, food for five would cost US$100 to $200 per month depending on consumption patterns, good qat (a mild stimulant chewed socially) might cost US$60 to $80 per month for one person, and utilities would cost around US$30 per month. Assets such as a car, telephone, or private education for the children are luxuries, available only to upper-income Yemenis. In other words, with total costs of US$400 to $600 to run a family of four or five comfortably, conditions are very tight without additional work such as providing private tutoring, having ideally at least two income-earners in the household, or otherwise, without owning one's house or having separate land as an income source.

In recent years, to improve the standard of education there has been an increase in teacher training, usually conducted by the Ministry of Education over the summer school holidays, as well as increases in teachers' salaries. This has met with some, albeit limited, success in improving the quality of education and the pay of teachers, but in both cases, there remain considerable problems.

Additional topics

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