Continuous learning is essential to realizing the potential of education but remains challenging in a protracted crisis like Somalia, where internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees typically experience disrupted education due to constant flux and unpredictable evictions from their camp homes.
Education in Somalia by the numbers
Somalia has one of the lowest primary school enrollment rates in the world. Just 30% of all school-age children have access to learning opportunities, with over 3 million children remaining out of school. Those in South and Central Somalia are affected the worst. Among rural and IDP children the situation is even worse, with only 17% enrolled in primary schools — mostly in NGO-run temporary learning centers. This situation was aggravated by the extreme droughts in 2016 and 2017, as well as the continuing conflict in many locations.
Since November 2016, approximately 366,000 school-aged children (or almost half of all IDP children) have been displaced, with dire consequences for education. In other words, given overall enrollment figures and the limited access that IDP children do have to education, almost 50,000 children who would otherwise have been enrolled lost their opportunity to attend school between November 2016 and August 2017. Historically, many displaced children and returnees have access to educational opportunities in temporary learning centers run largely by non-governmental organizations, but repeated displacements since 2016 have significantly increased dropout rates.
Almost 50,000 children lost their opportunity to attend school in Somalia between November 2016 and August 2017.
Bringing education to those who need it most
Concern is working to improve education in Somalia as part of the European Union-funded Durable Solutions Project. In the South West State of Baidoa, we’ve partnered with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to provide lasting solutions to the problems faced by many IDPs. This includes the limited access to water and sanitation, hygiene, health services, and education. In order to ensure our solutions are sustainable, we’ve helped establish public schools. This is in partnership with key stakeholders, especially communities and the MOE. Concern has also recruited and trained teachers and established Community Education Committees to ensure quality education.
Following the establishment of two IDP/host community schools in Baidoa, enrollment of IDP children exceeded initial expectations. This indicates a high demand for continuous learning in the area (which lacks permanent formal schools, even for host communities).
Voices from Somalia: Hassan
Hassan, a 13-year-old in grade 4, has been living in Wadajir IDP camp (also in Baidoa) for the last 2 years. He attends Hanano, a Concern-supported school. Recently, he told us:
“I like Hanano because… Hanano is the only permanent school structure in the area. I knew when its construction was started and we were waiting for it.
“This school is a formal school which is free of charge we have been given books, pens, school bags and everything that we will use for our learning, so I like Hanano and am very happy to have it. Hanano is in our villages, it is nearby and good education services are available…
“Hanano is the only permanent school structure in the area.” — Hassan, 13
“I will not move anywhere, I will stay here for my primary education… there is no reason to go to another school. In the town schools are either emergency centers or private, which charge school fees that my parents may not be able to pay.”
The provision of accessible, affordable/free, and suitable educational opportunities remains critically important to many IDP children and their families around the world. Efforts to establish and support such schools for IDP/host community children, in suitable locations, with quality teaching and learning takes time and demands careful negotiation with relevant communities and authorities. But, they can also have a long-lasting positive impact on the lives of children affected.