Removing Barriers to Learning in Somalia

Mercy-USA for Aid and Development with the support of Educate a Child (EAC) and the government of Somalia began a comprehensive education project in Somalia last year to support thousands of students in some of the poorest parts of Somalia. We are facilitating teacher training to help build capacity among local teachers. Materials and curriculum are being distributed and implemented. We’re offering specialized curriculum to students who are academically behind their peers due to a myriad of factors, allowing them to return to their appropriate grade level faster, without stigma.

We are also rehabilitating and expanding school buildings including adding new classrooms, providing new furniture, building latrines and hand washing stations to promote disease prevention. The private lavatories will provide girls with the needed privacy at school that they deserve as they grow up. 

Since 1993, our field staff has been providing healthcare and other humanitarian services to their neighbors in these hard-to-access rural parts of Somalia. This makes us successful in building capacity within the community for positive development with particular attention to girls’ education. One of our primary goals is to increase enrollment among girls in each community and inspire them to strive for higher education.

Accelerated Learning Program Helps Students Who Had Been Forced by Circumstances to Curtail Their Education

In Somalia, herding livestock is one of the major sources of livelihood and requires families to move from one area to another in search of pasture. 14-year-old Abdirashid, (right) had previously attended school in Kahda district about five miles outside of Mogadishu; however, his attendance was not consistent as he had to take care of his family’s livestock. He missed a great deal of school and he was eventually forced to drop out.

For many students like Abdirashid, access to school became even more difficult during the recent years of drought as families were forced to move further into rural areas where there are no schools. On several occasions Abdirashid tried to persuade his parents to allow him to remain behind to continue with his studies. “My parents needed my help in caring for our livestock and I could not convince them to allow me to continue my education,” he said.

Six years of devastating droughts later, Abdirashid’s family realized that the keeping of livestock will remain a continual struggle so they sent him back to Kahda district to stay with his aunt and resume his education.

While very happy to return to school, he felt upset about resuming learning at the 3rd grade level at the age of 14. Fortunately, his aunt learned about the free Accelerated Learning Program offered at Ainushamsi primary school.  Under this program, children are given intensive courses for a year to recover lost schooling time.

Mercy-USA is currently running five Accelerated Learning programs in south central Somalia. Abdirashid is very happy to be studying alongside other kids his age without stigma or embarrassment. He told us, “my lost hope is rekindled with this program.”