Fadumo only wants one thing for her daughter Halima - an education. It’s something many girls in Somalia seldom experience with conflict and the harsh environmental conditions of the country often keeping children from school, particularly girls in remote areas or those, like Halima, who have been displaced and are living in camps.
Parents often keep their daughters at home to shelter them from danger and/or to help around the house doing simple chores and cooking.
Many parents marry their young daughters off to older men in the hope they will provide for them. In fact, nearly half of all girls in Somalia are married by the time they turn 18, according to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with only five per cent enrolled in secondary school.
Yet when Fadumo learned of an opportunity for ten-year-old Halima to go to school through ‘Waxbar Caruurtaada-Educate Your Children,’ a partner project between Educate A Child (EAC) and CARE – and potentially avoid the fate that awaits so many young girls – she seized it. “I was reluctant at first, as we did not have any money to pay for school fees,” she admits. But thanks to the project, such costs were covered and critical learning materials provided.
Covering school fees is onlyone aspect of the EAC-CARE intervention. The project also offers children and their families the flexibility they need to balance education with household responsibilities. For example, split-shift class scheduling allows Halima to complete her chores in the morning and to attend school later in the day, while accelerated-learning programmes have helped her catch up on the learning she had missed. Those classes have been essential and spared Halima the embarrassment of sitting in class with much younger children.
The Waxbar Caruurtaada project focuses on increasing the enrolment of Somalia’s out of school children (OOSC), as well as their retention and completion of the primary-education cycle. To date in remote, rural communities, the project has enrolled more than 33,000 Somali children into quality primary education. In addition, 84 per cent of the children enrolled by this initiative stayed in school throughout the project’s life cycle.
Halima is just one of those students and is eager to continue her education. “My goal is to complete my studies and pursue a teaching course at the university,” she says. “Then [I want to] convince other parents to take not only boys to school, but their girls, too.”