The World Bank (WB) has granted Yemen an additional US$3 million to support the efforts to boost the employability of college graduates.
According to a press release, the WB Group's Board of Executive Directors approved last Monday the grant, which "will supplement an ongoing project focused on the quality of university programs, and their effectiveness in equipping students with the skills needed by the labor market."
The additional financing for the Higher Education Quality Improvement Project (HEQIP) will allow for the purchase of laboratory equipment and tools for twelve undergraduate programs at eight public universities. A major component of the HEQIP is support for the design of demand-driven curricula, in response to complaints from employers about the lack of practical experience and skills among college graduates. The majority of programs financed by the project are scientific or technical in nature, which requires significant investments in relevant equipment.
"Higher education is the cornerstone for developing a country's human capital and contributing to economic growth," said Wael Zakout, WB Yemen Country Manager. "But to be effective, university programs need to be aligned with the labor market, equipping university graduates with the knowledge and skills to compete in those markets."
There are currently nine public—and 19 private—universities in Yemen. The poor quality of education at both primary and secondary levels, however, has had an impact on higher education in general. Although enrollment has grown, with the number of private universities increasing, the standard of academic achievement among students remains low and university enrollment continues to be concentrated in social sciences.
"This project will help bring change to higher education in Yemen," said Lianqin Wang, World Bank Senior Education Specialist. "It will particularly help students enrolled in these quality improvement programs, gain experience to enter competitive labor markets."
The Bank's active portfolio in Yemen consists of 35 projects with US$1.1 billion in net commitments. Support focuses on interventions to improve livelihoods and reduce poverty. Key sectors include education, social protection, infrastructure, health, water, agriculture, and governance.