Allow children to resume learning before it is too late-warns education experts in Somalia

Mogadishu 2 July 2020- The future of more than 1.2 million school-going children in Somalia is at risk unless urgent steps are taken to allow children to resume learning in a safe environment, Somalia education partners have warned.

The partners, Save the Children, UNICEF and ADRA, urged the government and other key stakeholders to accelerate plans to allow children to continue with their learning, as well as ensuring child protection and psychosocial wellbeing is equally prioritized, as the country battles to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

“Most children are confused at the moment; they don’t know when they will be able to continue with their learning.  It is time now that we make this clear to the children and parents. We must step up all efforts to allow them to resume learning,” said Mengistu Edo Koricha, Head of Education for Save the Children during a virtual dialogue on the Impact of COVID19 on Education in Somalia hosted by the three partners and bringing together about 120 participants from across the country.

“Many children, especially those that were already marginalized and excluded, might never make their way back to school if early action is not taken now. Authorities need to take deliberate measures to protect a generation of school-going children from being lost,” Mengistu added.  

Koricha added that the COVID19 pandemic has not only impacted children’s learning, but also has affected all other aspects of child rights, including their protection, psychosocial wellbeing and nutrition as most of the children benefitted from expansive school feeding programs and other school-based services.

The dialogue also included two child representatives from Mogadishu who stressed on the need for them to resume learning or their survival and future will be jeopardised as they continue to stay at home without any hope of returning to school.

Sixteen-year old Halimo said: “A lot of girls are being forced to get married because our parents believe schools will not reopen anytime soon. I don’t want to get married.  I want to continue with my education. Unless our parents are assured that we will resume school, they will continue to pressurize us to get married. “

Speaking at the dialogue session, Phuong T. Nguyen, Chief of Education for UNICEF Somalia said that as the government and other stakeholders are implementing COVID-19 education plans to enable children’s continuous learning, it is crucial to ensure that no child is left behind and that the education system also prepares for children to return to learning in a safe, protective and child-friendly environment when schools re-open.”

Ms. Nguyen added that children who were marginalised before COVID-19 pandemic due to their gender, disabilities, poverty, localities, movement status, and other lines of division, are now more at risk than ever.”

“In this critical time, it is important to provide strong, flexible and alternative education pathways targeting the most deprived groups of children. It is also important to ensure that the most marginalized children get access to quality education and are not excluded in the distance learning programs.” Ms Nguyen added.

To ensure equitable access to learning, the education experts recommended a mixed approach including online e-learning platforms supported by pre-recorded radio and television lessons and printed learning materials including textbooks.


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