Tuesday February 9, 2021
(ERGO) – A total of 21 local community schools educating nearly 3,000 children from pastoralist communities have closed down in Dollow and surrounding villages, in southern Somalia’s Gedo region, due to lack of funds to pay the teachers.
Languley primary and secondary school closed indefinitely in October 2020 after local NGO, Himilo Relief and Development Association (HIRDA), stopped paying the equivalent of $100 fees for each teacher in July. HIRDA’s support had paid the teachers’ salaries. The school was one of 11 schools supported by HIRDA in the region.
Mohamud Abdullahi Siraad, a father of six, had one of his children in grade one and another in grade two at the school, which the community built in 2018.He told Radio Ergo that he and other parents had tried keeping up with school fee payments for their children from July to October, after the NGO support lapsed, but a fall in livestock sales due to poor market prices meant they were unable to continue.
“We tried our best to pay the fees but were unable to raise the money since we are experiencing a tough time as pastoralists,” Mohamud told Ergo. “Currently, we are in a drought season, and the sale of livestock is not that good.”
Mohamud, who owns 43 goats and two cows, sold seven goats to pay the fees, double the number of goats he would normally sell at such a time. However, he could not sustain the payments. He is unhappy to see his children staying at home and losing their education.
“Some of the students have been taken to other schools by their parents while the rest whose parents couldn’t afford the fees are helping them with herding the livestock. We need to get them back to their school!” Mohamud said.
Abdiwahab Dhaqane Matan, headmaster and a teacher at Abdi-lohow primary school, said HIRDA informed him in September that it was ceasing its financial support, as its UNICEF-funded education project had ended.
“We informed the parents, but they couldn’t pay the fees for the 50 students in the school, leaving us with no choice but to close down in October 2020,” Abdiwahab said.
Other schools in the region that were not supported by NGO funding have also had to close due to the general hardship experienced by the pastoralist communities.
In Haji Barre district of Dollow, commissioner Adan Osman Mohamed told Radio Ergo that the local school built by the community in 2017 closed in November 2020. The two teachers at the school finally quit after working without a salary for months. This school was depending on the parents of the 80 students enrolled paying school fees, from which the teachers were paid.
Due to cycles of drought in the region, and other causes of economic hardship, the parents were unable to pay and so the school had to close. Similar hardships have led to other school closures.