Now she is a pupil in class two and her favourite subject is science. “I want to be a teacher when I grow up,” Malyun says. “I want to make sure my community is literate. I will continue to advocate for children here to pursue their education.”
Decades of conflict have made Somalia a difficult place to be a child. Children often suffer from malnutrition and disease, and one in seven will not survive to his or her fifth birthday. Learning about health and hygiene is as critical as reading and writing, and Malyun is an active member of the school’s Child-to-Child Club telling students, her family and community about the importance of cleanliness. “I will continue spreading messages about preventing diarrhoea and cholera, and keeping our school clean.”
Malyun comes from the Bantu ethnic group, who have suffered marginalisation. After one violent outbreak, her community of nearly 300 families had to flee their village and were only able to return following negotiations. With the support of Educate A Child (EAC) and UNICEF, they built a school, which Malyun and four of her siblings now attend.
There are four semipermanent classrooms with furniture and bathrooms. UNICEF provides learning materials, training on school management and children’s education rights. In addition, they have worked with the Community Education Committee to dig a pit for rubbish. “The school came at the right time,” says Nur Ali, a community elder. “We have classrooms with furniture and bathrooms, and children are going to school. This is a good opportunity to improve our lives through education and provide a better future for our kids. You see children in class with their faces beaming.”
With EAC’s support, UNICEF Somalia is expanding access to quality primary education to out of school children (OOSC), like Malyun. Since 2014, more than 40,000 have been enrolled. The three-year project aims to improve access to education for 64,000 OOSC in marginalised communities.