For Somali girl Halima Mohmoud, 11, a dream came true recently. She is now enrolled in school despite the hardships she and her family go through every day.
“This is my first time in school. My parents are pastoralists and live in the village,” said Halima in an interview with UNICEF. “Education is important to me because it will help in future.”
However, many other children in Somalia – like Halima’s eight siblings – do not go to school.
"The disappearance of formal education systems in Somalia has lowered the national enrollment rate to around 31% (22% for girls as compared with 34% for boys)," according to the World Bank. "Girls, in particular, are less likely to attend school due to domestic responsibilities. Nearly 75% of females between 15-24 years are illiterate, one of the world’s highest levels of gender disparity."
But a new campaign strives to reverse the situation. Government officials in Somalia launched the Go 2 School initiative to get one million more children into schools.
The drive to get parents to bring their children to free government schools will be bolstered by plans to build and renovate schools, train and support teachers, increase the capacity of ministries, and provide youth training facilities.
The initiative includes basic education for 6- to 13-year-olds as well as alternative basic education for out-of-school children, including pastoralists and the internally displaced.
The Go 2 School Initiative, which will cost $117 million over three years, is being supported by UNICEF, WFP, and UNESCO, along with a number of international NGOs.
This is an important step to rebuild the war-torn African country. The younger generation will be the pillar on which Somalia will rely to fight poverty. This is why the World Bank has placed education at the forefront of its poverty-fighting mission since 1962.
From 2000 to 2010, with help of the World Bank, countries trained more than 3 million additional teachers, built or renovated more than 2 million classrooms for 105 million children, and purchased or distributed about 300 million textbooks.
• 2.7 million girls enrolled in school in Afghanistan in 2012;
• 750,000 out-of-school children in Bangladesh got a “second chance” primary education between 2004 and 2011;
• 2.6 million books were distributed to schools and 400 classrooms were built and equipped in Chad between 2003 and 2012.
It is never too late to rebuild a nation through empowering the young generation. It is in fact, one of the first steps in a thousand-mile road. It’s a necessity to end poverty.