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E-LEARNING AS A PANACEA FOR SOCIO-CULTURAL IMPEDIMENTS IN WOMEN’S EDUCATION: A STUDY ON STRUGGLE OF FEMALE LEARNERS IN CONFLICT ZONES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO YEMEN

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It is well-known that education has been facing unremitting impediments in Yemen. Yemeni girls are the worst victims who are suffering in pursuing their secondary or high education despite the educational uprising achieved throughout the last twenty
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  J ournal of H igher E ducation and R esearch S ociety:  A   R efereed I nternational ISSN 2349-0209 Volume-4 / Issue-2 OCTOBER 2016   JH RS   169   E-Learning As A Panacea For Socio- Cultural Impediments In Women’s Education:  A  Study On Struggle Of Female Learners In Conflict Zones With Special Reference To Yemen   E-LEARNING AS A PANACEA FOR SOCIO- CULTURAL IMPEDIMENTS IN WOMEN’S EDUCATION: A STUDY ON STRUGGLE OF FEMALE LEARNERS IN CONFLICT ZONES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO YEMEN Dr. Rajendra Chenni Professor Department of P.G of Studies & Research in English Kuvempu University Shankaraghatta, Shimoga, Karnataka  Dr. Jaganath Dange Professor Department of P.G of Studies & Research in Education Kuvempu University Shankaraghatta, Shimoga, Karnataka  Iftikhar Yusuf Al-Ariqi Research Scholar English Department Kuvempu University Shankaraghatta, Shimoga, Karnataka   Abstract    It is well-known that education has been facing unremitting impediments in Yemen. Yemeni girls are the worst victims who are suffering in pursuing their secondary or high education despite the educational uprising achieved throughout the last twenty years. Moreover, due to the recent war occurs in the area, girls encounter not only socio-cultural barriers to carry on their regular formal learning, but also some other economic and security problems as a result of instability in the area. Conflicts can be ethnic, social, civil or identity conflicts and so on conceived in terms of an essentialist ethnicity, or regionalism, or tensions over state-formation. Yemen has gradually sunk into a civil and regional conflict which forces most of students specifically female learners to stay at home rather than going to schools or colleges. This paper aims to firstly offer a theoretical analysis of the obstacles which have faced Yemeni women in  pursuing their education shedding light on the socio-cultural status in the past as well as in the time of instability. It also tries to explore theoretically how e-learning can act as a blessing in disguise for Yemeni women who are continuously struggling for their educational rights due  feudal and tribal structure of Yemeni society plus merciless war and political instability. It has been observed that e learning can eliminate or reduce to the minimum socio-cultural obstacles that are infringing on the educational rights and development of Yemeni women.  Keywords: sociocultural barri ers, instability, women’s education, e -learning  J ournal of H igher E ducation and R esearch S ociety:  A   R efereed I nternational ISSN 2349-0209 Volume-4 / Issue-2 OCTOBER 2016   JH RS   170   E-Learning As A Panacea For Socio- Cultural Impediments In Women’s Education:  A  Study On Struggle Of Female Learners In Conflict Zones With Special Reference To Yemen   E-LEARNING AS A PANACEA FOR SOCIO- CULTURAL IMPEDIMENTS IN WOMEN’S EDUCATION: A STUDY ON STRUGGLE OF FEMALE LEARNERS IN CONFLICT ZONES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO YEMEN -   Dr. Rajendra Chenni -   Dr. Jaganath Dange -   Iftikhar Yusuf Al-Ariqi Introduction: he right to education for all citizens is ensured in Yemen through the government‟s establishment of schools and educational institutions. Since the unity between the north and south in 1990, the Yemeni government has worked hard to wipe out illiteracy among its population. Although education has been regulated as obligatory in 2001, the law was not applied (Yemeniaty, 2012). Ramzia Al-Eriyani (2013) the head of Yemen women union asserts that the education percentage in the last ten years in Yemen rose only to 5%. In a society where superiority is given to the males, it has been noticed that male children in Yemen have better opportunities to attend schools than the females. In a conservative environment like Yemeni community, many girls have always to struggle and face various difficulties either social or cultural ones to pursue their learning. Furthermore, Yemen joined the „Arab Spring‟ that prevailed in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region during 2011. As the crisis started in February 2011 as mass protests and evolved into violent clashes and armed groups, different negative economic and social impacts have outraged the existing fragile situation; however, the situation becomes worse when war has waged in March 2015 (Yemen National Social Protection Monitoring Survey (NSPMS: 2012-2013). Unfortunately, the armed groups which intentionally target schools, teachers, and students violate the rights of the Yemeni students to learn; in addition to putting them at risk of injury or death, they can impede students' chance to get education. Attacks on some schools, teachers, and students can cause them to drop out or go to school less often, force schools to cut their hours, and destroy school buildings and materials. In environments of violence and fear, the quality of young people's education is severely diminished especially children and women.   T  J ournal of H igher E ducation and R esearch S ociety:  A   R efereed I nternational ISSN 2349-0209 Volume-4 / Issue-2 OCTOBER 2016   JH RS   171   E-Learning As A Panacea For Socio- Cultural Impediments In Women’s Education:  A  Study On Struggle Of Female Learners In Conflict Zones With Special Reference To Yemen   Despite the efforts by the Yemeni government, before the lately turbulent situation, to improve the educational system in general, girls' education remains in trouble and development is taking place slowly. This paper tries to display the social and cultural reasons behind girls' lack or non-existence in schools. It also suggests and discusses the possibility of applying informal e-learning as an alternative to formal learning in the era of instability due to current conflict in Yemen. Socio-cultural & Insecurity Impact on Yemeni Women Learning: Different studies, done over the last 10 years, clearly show that the main causes for low enrollment and high drop-out rates for girls in Yemen are: 1) lack of accessibility, 2) socio-cultural as well as economic factors and recently 3) the cuSocio-Cultural factors. Coming to the fact that large parts of Yemen‟s population, approximately 72% live i n rural areas while the remaining 28% live in cities and towns. Since Yemen is a country with 25 millions of people scattered widely over often difficult terrain, the accessibility of schools is a major challenge in rural areas. In many cases children are made to walk over an hour to reach the nearest school. The distances become further in the higher the grades as not all schools offer both primary and secondary education. Alsabeh (2012) urges that Yemeni women still significantly fall behind in human development particularly in education when compared to men. The illiteracy rate is 69.1% for women, compared to 27.3% of men. She adds that the problem is worse in rural areas, where women‟s illiteracy is estimated at 80.56% compared to 40.25% in urban areas. Cultural and social norms have a more defining influence in the rural areas. Cultural and traditional perceptions of women and girls as „vulnerable‟ have led to a tradition of segregation between the sexes. Al-Aghbari (1993) points out to the feudal or social structures which demands on the education system, such as schools suitable only if within cultural acceptable distances and locations, and the need for female teachers for girls after the fourth grade. Where co-education is considered unacceptable, the lack of separate classes for female students strongly affects girls‟ initial enrollment and, more significantly, the retention of female students. Al-Aghbari indicates that the relegation of women to domestic chores and the overuse of social prohibitions are other reasons of low number of girls‟ joining to schoolsrrent political situation and instability of the area.  J ournal of H igher E ducation and R esearch S ociety:  A   R efereed I nternational ISSN 2349-0209 Volume-4 / Issue-2 OCTOBER 2016   JH RS   172   E-Learning As A Panacea For Socio- Cultural Impediments In Women’s Education:  A  Study On Struggle Of Female Learners In Conflict Zones With Special Reference To Yemen   Before the current conflict, according to the statistics done by Harkness (2015), many young people were already out of school, and few completed secondary education. Primary enrollment stood at 73.8 percent, with a 60.4 percent completion rate. There was a large gender gap, with 85.2 percent of boys enrolled and only 62 percent of girls. Secondary enrollment was much lower, with only 33.5 percent attending. The gender gap persisted, with 43.6 percent of boys attending and 20.7 percent of girls. Literacy rates were also low: 65 percent of the population over the age of 15 could read and write (Harkness, 2015). On another hand, Lack of female teachers for girls was cited by 4.6% of women and only 1.4% of men mentioned lack of male teachers as a reason. Lack of interest of the family in education was clearly much more decisive for women: 23.4% while only 7.3% for men (Unicef, 2006). The 2013 Demographic Health Survey surveying women aged 15-24 found that 29% left school because they got married, 15% of women who dropped out of school reported that they had had enough of school, while 13% cited a dislike for school. The other important reasons for non-attendance were that the “family need[s] help” (10%), that “schools are not accessible” (9%), and that “parents refused their daughters continuing school” (9%). In addition, a number of studies have stated that education is not considered an essential asset for girls in their future, particularly in poor families. The last point is supported by Woronowycz (2016) in an essay in Frontlines newspaper who has shown that co-education and the presence of male teachers (especially single men who are not local residents) for the instruction of adolescent girls is a key reason for many Middle Eastern parents to remove their daughters out of school at a later stage. He added that it is important to refurbish schools in Yemen as many students who said they had lost interest in attending classes because of overcrowding and poorly maintained facilities. From another perspective, the (NSPMS) revealed that data related to families income indicate that there is a significant difference between urban and rural areas but not such a difference between poor and non-poor families in rural areas. It also indicated that the utilization of educational services does not depend on poverty (poor and non-poor families) but on the distance of families to the school, particularly in rural areas. There are different factors which have hindered development and accordingly education in Yemen such as instability and large-scale displacement, as well as weak governance, corruption, resource depletion and poor infrastructure, unemployment, high food prices and limited social services. Poverty has made  J ournal of H igher E ducation and R esearch S ociety:  A   R efereed I nternational ISSN 2349-0209 Volume-4 / Issue-2 OCTOBER 2016   JH RS   173   E-Learning As A Panacea For Socio- Cultural Impediments In Women’s Education:  A  Study On Struggle Of Female Learners In Conflict Zones With Special Reference To Yemen   more than 10 million Yemenis are believed to be food insecure and school leavers (BBC, 2015).Instability factors: The obstacles mentioned earlier  –   lack of accessibility and socio-cultural factors demonstrate clearly that both supply and demand factors are influencing the educational situation of young people especially girls in Yemen since education has started after Yemen‟s Independence in 1962 up to 2010. Then, a new turning point has occurred in Yemen which complicates the education process again for youngsters especially women. In 2011, an uprising affected by the Arab Spring revolution has been launched which changes the whole stability of the country up to this moment. Since then conflicts have been going on and even primary education has been badly hindered. Accordingly, a third obstacle appears to stand in front of girls pursuing their education which is the current instability factors throughout the country. Harkness (2015) argues that the conflict has had a large negative impact on the education system in Yemen. More than 1.8 million children are out of school; 3.600 schools have been directly affected: 248 of these schools have been damaged, 270 have been repurposed for housing internally displaced citizens and 68 have been occupied by armed groups. The 2011 World Bank Development Report found that people in fragile and conflict-affected states are more than three times as likely face difficulty to send their children to school as those in other developing countries. There are multiple ways in which fragile and conflict-affected situations act as barriers to access to and completion of not only secondary and college education but also primary education. Destroyed and war-affected situations often also result in a big number of refugees who cross borders to other countries. In a report done by Unicef (2016), Madhok explains that after the escalation of the conflict and the closure of nearly 3,600 schools, over 1.8 million school-aged children were forced out of school. Even after the reopening of schools in November 2015, more than 1,600 schools remain closed due to insecurity, infrastructural damages or use as shelters by displaced people, mainly in al- Jawf, Sa‟ada and Taiz governments. The Education Cluster estimates that more than 1,000 schools have been damaged and 184 are used as shelters by displaced populations. The closure of schools now impacts nearly 387,000 children (Madhok,2016). It is obvious that without a rush rehabilitation and support for education, the chances of Yemen and its children recovering and building a peaceful future are
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