Open-air lessons for Yemeni pupils without classrooms

Taez (Yemen) (AFP) –


Twenty Yemeni pupils listen to their teacher with textbooks balanced in their laps as they sit under trees in their southern village, where the school building remains unfinished.

In war-torn Yemen, the students of Al-Kashar began a new school term without a building, tables or chairs.

But their teachers are still committed to providing them with an education.

Wearing a white shirt and baseball cap, teacher Abdelsalam el-Mahmudi squints in the sunlight as he holds a large sheet of white paper for a lesson on Islamic theory.

His colleague, English teacher Mogeb Ali Mohsen, writes the alphabet on a breeze block wall.

Financing for the construction of classrooms was interrupted by Yemen's war, which has engulfed the country since 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its allies launched an offensive against Iran-aligned Huthi rebels.

Two million of Yemen's seven million school-aged children are not in education, the United Nations says.

As many as 3.7 million children's educations could be at risk because of the non-payment of teachers' salaries, the UN children's agency UNICEF says.

More than 2,500 schools in Yemen are out of action, two-thirds of these having been damaged in the conflict, more than a quarter shuttered, and others repurposed as shelters for the displaced or barracks.

The city of Taez, overlooked by Al-Kashar, remains under the control of the internationally recognised government, but has frequently come under attack by Huthi rebels.

In the verdant highlands above the city, pupils in Al-Kashar further their studies surrounded by goats grazing in nearby fields.

Their teachers remain hopeful that they will one day be able to teach in a school with a roof, even as the war continues to rage and tensions soar in the Gulf region.