Photographer Ahmed al-Basha visited the Ibrahim Aqeel School on the western outskirts of Taiz city, which became a battleground when Houthi forces tried to seize control of nearby Taiz University in 2016. Artillery fire, landmines and other explosive devices destroyed some of the school’s buildings and severely damaged others. Still, finding no other nearby options, the school’s 800 students, boys and girls, largely returned after fighting shifted despite the prospects of hidden mines exploding or damaged buildings collapsing.
Across Yemen, the physical and economic impacts of the war provide barriers to parents’ ability to educate their children, with recently published results of a 2021 nationwide household survey indicating 40 percent of school-age children were not attending school. Parents cited high fees and transportation costs among the reasons.
At the Ibrahim Aqeel School, school director Abdulghani al-Haidari said overcrowding and structural concerns prompted him to organize two shifts, morning and afternoon, and to hold many classes outside. Al-Haidari said it is difficult to control students’ entries and exits to school grounds, and, during breaks, to keep them away from the rubble around them that still could collapse. Demining teams affiliated with Yemeni government forces check the area periodically, removing unexploded ordnance.
School officials and parents have appealed to the Yemeni government and international organizations to restore the campus, al-Haidari said, but without success. Aid organizations are struggling to meet education sector needs in areas including teacher incentives and training, providing materials and overcoming transportation barriers.