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Sanaa's street children given chance to learn Open in fullscreen

Farouq al-Kamali

Sanaa's street children given chance to learn

There are more than a million child labourers and homeless children in Yemen [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 February, 2015

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Charity workers turn bus into "mobile school" in the Yemeni capital to give hope of a proper education to thousands of street children with no access to learning.
In October 2013, Nazar al-Saqqaf launched the mobile school project to teach street children in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, basic reading and writing skills.

Saqqaf believes education is essential for Yemen's development, especially because of the current crises the country is going through.

"I had the idea when a street child asked a friend and me for help. We politely apologised but the boy insulted us," Saqqaf told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

"It was then I realised these children need to be educated so they can improve their position. I decided to launch a project to educate them and help provide them with basic shelter, food and clothing."

Saqqaf hires a bus for two hours a week and turns it into a mobile school. A volunteer teaches the children basic skills so they can join a formal school at a later date.
     Passers-by help the project by buying stationary, clothes, food and drink for the children.

"The project was well-received and up to 40 children attend the mobile school. We have also started a Facebook page and have many volunteers who teach the children," said Saqqaf.

Passers-by help the project by buying stationary, clothes, food and drink for the children. It is also supported by a Kuwaiti charity he explains.

The school organises activities and awards prizes for the fastest learner and the pupil with the best handwriting. Children are also taught good manners.

The project's founder who runs a private marketing company hopes to get a bigger bus with desks, and to cover other parts of the city.

A UN Development Programme report shows a third of Yemeni children do not have the opportunity to go to school. Furthermore, two million out of six million children in Yemen live receive no education due to what the report called "disorders" in the educational sector.

These include irregular school attendance and a shortage in educational services.

Many children have been forced to look for jobs that are not suitable for their age or to beg on the streets.

Figures from the Yemeni ministry of labour and social affairs indicate there are over a million child labourers and homeless children in the country.

According to the ministry, the problem has been exacerbated by armed conflict and political and security problems that have increased levels of poverty and illiteracy.

Studies also show there are 1.3 million child labourers in Yemen, 17 percent of all Yemeni children, that are unable to attend school because of their work. A total of 469,000 of these children are aged between 5 and 11 years old.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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