Concern Worldwide and Education in Somalia
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.
Somalia has one of the lowest primary school enrollment rates in the world. Approximately 30% of all school-age children have access to learning opportunities, with over three million children remaining out-of-school; those in South and Central Somalia being worst affected. 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 has been aggravated by the extreme 2016 and 2017 droughts, alongside 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.
Under the European Union-funded Durable Solutions project in Baidoa (South West State), Concern works with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to provide lasting solutions to the problem of limited access to essential services faced by many IDPs, including education, water and sanitation, hygiene, and health services. To provide sustainable education services, Concern has helped establish public schools by working with key stakeholders, especially communities and the MOE. In addition to this, Concern has recruited and trained teachers, and established Community Education Committees. Following the establishment of two IDP/host community schools in Baidoa, the enrollment of IDP children has exceeded initial expectations, indicating high demand for continuous learning in the area (which lacks permanent formal schools, even for host communities).
Hassan, a 13-year-old in grade 4, has been living in Wadajir IDP camp (also Baidoa) for the last 2 years. Below is his story.
I like Hanano [a Concern-supported school] 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… 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 centres 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. 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 have a long lasting positive impact on the lives of children affected.
Anne Wekesa Ejakait is the Programme Advisor for Somalia with Concern Worldwide.