Brings Life Back to a School in her Community, Mona, an Insider Mediator
“I cannot witness the halt of education process in my Community’’
In Al-Madan village, of Zabid district, a serious conflict had impacted on the young generation’s right to access to education especially for girls in that district. A disagreement has been raised between one of female public school’s administration and students’ parents over the need for payment of a monthly transportation allowance for volunteer female teachers due to the lack of female teachers hired by the ministry of education. The female volunteers requested a monthly contribution from the parents to cover only their transportation cost (daily commuting from Zabid to the school and back), and the parents were paying their contribution for the continual of their daughters’ education process.
- In Yemen and since August 2016, teachers are not receiving their salaries.
- Students parents in some schools used to pay teachers to continue educational process
However, the current crisis had increased the economic hardship to the extent that the majority of parents could no longer pay their contribution, and eventually female volunteers had to stop teaching.
The parents council had demanded the school administration to cover the deficit from the school revenues (e.g. the rental of buffets, and other shops owned by the school, the annual tuition fees, the school’s operational budget from MoE office in the district), but according to the school’s administration the revenues does not cover the deficit, and this disagreement exacerbated especially when the school administration came to know that the parents council had to report the matter to the Monitoring and Inspection Section at MoE, accordingly the school decided to suspend study. This local conflict had gravity consequences on education process and on the mutual cooperation between school and parents council.
The gravity of the situation pushed insider mediators trained by Search for Common Grounds (SFCG) to step in, and a female mediator called Mona Abkar had led this initiative to resolve the conflict. In a quote from Mona ‘’ I had realized that if the conflict remained unresolved, it might had led to deprivation of more than 730 female students from education, and I do not want to witness this happening in my village, and keep my hands folded”.
Mona, an Insider Mediator
Mona’s intervention to resolve the conflict stemmed from her sense of responsibility to restore the community’s solidarity and strengthening the social cohesion in her village, Mona pointed out that “I had to sit with the school administration and have a clear understanding of the conflict ins and out, and have a clear view over the school’s revenues and expenditure. Then I had another meeting with the students’ parents to clarify that the school’s revenues were barely enough to meet school’s operational expenses and that there is no way to cover the required amount for the volunteers teachers beside the cooperation from parents’ council is needed to resume the study in the girls’ schools’’
Out of Mona’s awareness that the process of conflict resolution should be participatory and collaborative, she used the assistance from local businessmen, the principal of a local boys’ school, some official teachers who were also parents of students in both boys’ and girls’ schools. Mona added ‘’ these primary factors contributed into the resolution of the conflict by providing financial support that helps the school deal with its deficit. This cooperation had led to the formation of a committee from among insider mediators to collect monthly fees from parents, and other stakeholders, and hand in the money to the school, and supervise the school’s disbursement of the collected money”.
Mona maintains that her success was basically the result of the insider mediators training on conflict resolution that was conducted by (Search for Common Ground ) SFCG under Enhance Rural Yemen Resilience programme (ERRY), and Mona stated that ‘’ I was nominated by the local council to join the training to build the capacity of mediators on skills related to conflict management. I acquired valuable conflict resolution skills that I learnt to apply, even in such a rural community as mine’’. It is to notice that it was harder for Mona as a female mediator to overcome the traditional assumption about gender based roles and biases in a rural community. But with these new skills she possessed, and keen eye she had on her community’s issues, and the determination she had, Mona managed to win local acceptability to resolve other local problems.
Enhanced Rural Resilience in Yemen (ERRY) programme is a joint-initiative funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by FAO, ILO, UNDP and WFP in four governorates in Yemen (Hajjah, Hodeidah, Lahj and Abyan). The three-year joint programme aims to enhance the resilience and self-reliance of crisis-affected rural communities through support to livelihoods stabilization, food security, local governance, social cohesion and improved access to sustainable energy.