Around the world, children are going back to school and happy to be in a familiar setting.
But for Somalia's students, things have been looking very different as they return after the summer break.
Wholesale changes have been made to the education system in a country
ravaged by civil war, where three million children are out of school
and 70% of the population are under 30.
Somalia's education system has been lacking a unified approach for
decades. Now there will be a single system of four years in
lower-primary school, four years in upper-primary and four years in
In comes a new curriculum, with a system of continuous assessment and
information and communication technology added to the core subjects.
The school year has been divided into two terms - running from January
to May and August to December.
But possibly the biggest change faced by millions of Somali children
is the language used to teach them. Until now, schools affected by the
conflict and shortages of supplies have used whatever text books they
can get - from as many as 10 other countries. This led to English and
Arabic being the major teaching languages.
“Now the language of instruction in primary school will be Somali,
while Arabic and English will be used in secondary school,” said
Abdulkadir, a former Director-General in the federal Ministry of
Education. “We believe this will bring some order.”
The man overseeing the education system overhaul is Mohamed Abdulkadir, an advisor to the government’s ministry of education.
“For the last 30 years, the country has been craving for a
Somali-owned and Somali-prepared education system – we finally have it,”
“Our aim is to ensure our children access to education as well as
opportunities where they can exploit their talents for their benefit and
that of the country.”
The country has over three million children out of school, according
to UNICEF in June, and one in five are displaced from their homes.
Years of internal conflict virtually wrecked the education system. It
is "characterised by poor-quality, insufficient numbers of qualified
teachers and inadequate resources," said the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID).
Almost 50,000 children lost the opportunity to go to school due to displacement between November 2016 and August 2017.
A recent study by the humanitarian organisation Mercy Corps showed that children at school in Somalia are much less likely to support armed groups than those missing out on education.
“We found in general that the provision of secondary education by
itself reduced the likelihood of young people supporting political
violence by roughly 48%,” said senior researcher Beza Tesfaye.