Hard-to-reach areas benefit from EU Humanitarian Aid funded quality education as schools reopen in Somalia

The project funded by the European Union fulfils the right to quality education for 4,000 crisis-affected children as schools reopen after Covid-19 related closures in Somalia.

With financial support from EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), FCA and its partner GREDO kicked off an Education in Emergencies response in Hudur district of South West State of Somalia.

Over 4,000 children from the most vulnerable settlements of Internally Displaced People (IDP) are expected to access safe and protected learning environments in six primary schools and three Accelerated Basic Education (ABE) centres for the academic year 2020-2021.

Schools and learning institutions across Somalia were closed in March 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak but were allowed to reopen in August. FCA has worked with sensitising teachers and school administrations in line with the government’s Covid-19 guidelines to support the safe reopening of schools, says Aburas Farah, FCA’s Senior Education Advisor.

“We have encouraged everyone in the school and the community to practice preventive behaviours and enforce hygiene and social distancing in ways that are appropriate for learners, teachers, and staff”, Farah says.

Increase in enrolment of children in both primary schools and ABE centres

In close collaboration with the Ministry of Education of South West State, Hudur District Education Officers and local authorities, five public and IDP schools were jointly identified to provide primary education and ABE programme. An additional Public-Private Partnership with the private Shodoq Primary School was also secured to enable space for construction and set up of another ABE centre for drop-out, over-aged and out of school children.

Sites for the rehabilitation of damaged classrooms and the construction of a new temporary learning space were also verified. The construction process is expected to start soon.

Awareness-campaigns on the right to quality education have been carried out in August and September to inform the host and IDP communities to encourage caregivers to enrol their children in school – particularly girls and children with disabilities.

The campaigns have resulted in a sharp rise of enrolment in the six schools supported by EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO): a total of 4,127 children. Among those, 644 learners (305 boys and 339 girls) are the newly enrolled primary school learners and 585 learners (331 boys and 254 girls) registered in the three ABE centres for drop-out, overage and out-of-school children.

‘’Due to poverty and attacks from Al-Shabaab, many poor children in my community cannot enrol in schools. When I heard about FCA’s support to primary schools in Hudur, I was one of the first to register my children”, says Ali Adan Ahmed, a parent and community leader.

“I believe education will bring a bright future for my children”, he says.

The registration process for the most vulnerable children to access mobile cash transfer for school uniforms and scholastic materials is also carried out and closely monitored by the teams of FCA and GREDO, in close partnership with the DEO and Community Education Committees. The cooperation ensures a transparent and safe transfer process.

Teachers receive monthly incentives, training and mentorship

As the quality of education is the centre of this intervention, 80 teachers (50 primary and 30 ABE) were identified, recruited and provided with monthly incentives, with the support of officials of the Ministry of Education. The teachers are currently taking part in training, divided into smaller groups to enable effective learning and interaction.

The capacity-building support for the 50 primary teachers emphasises on learner-centred pedagogical skills using contextualised Teacher in Crisis Context training packs. Training for ABE teachers focuses on the same tools, coupled with an ABE Working Group Training Package.

The teachers were further sensitised on the guidelines of the safe reopening of schools in the context of Covid-19, circulated by the federal government to ensure the safe return to school of learners and teachers. After the training, the teachers will receive continued support through follow-up sessions and a mentorship programme that uses Teacher Learning Circles. The support aims to increase the quality of teaching and the performance of the learners.

Hudur District Education Officer, Adan Ahmed Mohamud, expressed his gratitude and appreciation of the timely and high-quality support of the EU to Somalia, especially to Hudur district where the needs and gaps in the education response are enormous.

“The support is a significant and life-changing opportunity for many children, especially those that have been denied their right to education due to insecurity and protracted crises. The assistance also helps reduce major concerns in the district, such as early marriage among girls and Al-Shabaab’s recruitment of child soldiers”, Mohamud says.