Putting the child at the centre of education development in Somalia

In Somalia, it’s estimated by UNICEF that 3 million children are out of school. FCA is determined to help them access the quality education that is not only their right, but also the key to their future.

SOMALIA CONTINUES to suffer from drought, conflict, economic shock and the lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. This has led to an increase in the number of children dropping out of school.

FCA is facing these challenges head on by employing child-centred solutions to bring children from the most remote areas back into the classroom. This is thanks to funding worth 2,500,000 euros from EU Humanitarian Aid (ECHO).

Building with the child in mind

We partner with local organisation, GREDO, to construct temporary classrooms, so children don’t have to wait to learn. In the areas of Hudur, Elberde, and Baidoa, pupils were discouraged from coming to school by overcrowded, hot classrooms and no safe places to play. Meanwhile, many teenaged girls were put off by the lack of safe and clean hygiene facilities.

Together with GREDO, we’ve also constructed child-friendly spaces, so children feel safe at school. These include extra learning rooms for newly enrolled learners, as well as play areas and gender friendly spaces for adolescent girls. These include proper toilets, secure changing rooms and places where girls can receive menstruation kits.

Before and after pictures of an FCA school in Baidoa, Southwest State, Somalia. PHOTO: MOHAMED ADEN/FCA

“Previously, there were no child friendly spaces; students used to play in the sun, but these Child Friendly Spaces allowed them to play in a covered facility. Additionally, there was no space to store recreational materials for students, which we used to keep in the office, and students were unable to play frequently and freely,” says Abdifatah Isaack Ibrahim, one of the head instructors in FCA’s school in Hudur.

All our students are vulnerable youngsters who have been impacted by the droughts and the conflict between Al-Shabaab and government forces. We also put emphasis on the need for inclusion, particularly for marginalised communities and children with special needs, supplying teaching aids and wheelchairs.

“We are very glad for the support given by FCA. It contributes improvement to education, enhances the moral of both teachers and pupils,” says Abdifatah Isaack Ibrahim.

Safe spaces for children

Mohamed Ali Ismail is a 15-year-old Grade 3 student Shodoq Primary School in Hudur, an FCA School funded by ECHO.

Mohamed was out of school for years, after he lost his father. With three brothers and four sisters to feed, as well as ongoing drought preventing any farming, his mother struggled to afford school fees.

Mohamed and his younger siblings enrolled in FCA’s Accelerated Basic Education (ABE) programme. It’s a fast-track scheme to get children who are out of school long term back into mainstream education.

Mohamed Ali Ismail (15), taking part in Shodoq Primary’s children’s club. PHOTO: MOHAMED ADEN/FCA

A highlight of the scheme for Mohamed is the children’s club. This is an extra-curricula activity that provides not only learning support, but also lessons on the rights of the child, student advocacy and cohesion. From a marginalised community, Mohamed has benefitted immensely from a new sense of ownership and belonging due to the club.

He stressed to us the need to protect children and encourage academic success by positive support as opposed to the physical punishments traditionally found in the classroom. These are frightening to children and discourage healthy learning.

“I am really glad and grateful for the children’s club and the improvements, especially for ABE and primary school learners,” he said.

Key facts

  • We work with local organisations to deliver the right to quality education to children in hard to reach areas of Southwest State, Somalia.
  • This is thanks to EU ECHO funding of €2,500,000 given over two years since 2021.
  • So far we’ve helped 7,543 students access education.

Read more about FCA’s work in Somalia here.
Text and photos: Mohamed Aden