HARGEISA (SomalilandPress) — School enrollment has risen sharply in Somalia’s self-declared independent region of Somaliland since 1991, raising the literacy rate from 20 percent to 45 percent, education officials have said.
“School enrollment [in primary and secondary schools] has increased dramatically. In 1991, we had only 1,019 students enrolled in schools but by the year 2009 some 45,223 students were in school,” Abdi Abdillahi Mohamed, the director of planning in Somaliland’s ministry of education, told IRIN.
Somaliland declared unilateral independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991.
Ali Abdi Odowa, director-general in the education ministry, attributed the increase to rising awareness and the construction of many primary schools.
“Hundreds of schools have been built both in urban and rural areas and adult education has also started,” he said.
Somaliland, he said, plans to ensure that at least 75 percent of the population is able to read and write by 2015.
According to Mohamed, 225,853 students attended primary school and 21,331 attended secondary school in 2008/2009, while 26,156 were in adult education.
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Some 6,820 students are currently enrolled in technical colleges and vocational schools.
“We have also added two social science subjects in high school – business and agriculture – which we hope will encourage high school leavers to be self-employed,” Mohammed said.
However, the ministry had received complaints from displaced persons and pastoralists about school fees and the lack of access by their children to schools.
“Somaliland’s constitution stipulates that all elementary and secondary education is free; there are no fees paid by students but of course there is what we call contributions paid by parents to support voluntary teachers and teachers’ salaries,” he said.
In remote areas, the ministry has established a pilot project where teachers follow pastoralists and teach in mobile schools.
“This project is in Togdheer region… Teachers and the school follow the pastoralists wherever they go, and we pay such teachers more than the others,” Mohamed said.
“We have also started school feeding centres: Pastoralists’ children are fed in boarding schools in villages when their families are on the move in search of pasture.”
Source: IRIN, December 31, 2009