High level signing ceremony highlights importance of strategic partnerships for getting Somali children to school
NEW YORK, 23 September 2013 – A high level signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Somalia, the Government of Denmark, and UNICEF took place on 23 September in New York. Denmark’s contribution marks the first direct contribution to the G2S Strategy.
“Go-2-School – Educating for Resilience” – is a Somali Government-led plan to educate one million children and youth over the next three years. The initiative was launched in the capital Mogadishu and other key towns on 8 September to mark International Literacy Day and the start of the school year.
Somalia is in a state of political and social transition. For the first time in more than 20 years, there is a widely recognised Government in Mogadishu. While security remains top of the agenda for the new Government, the restoration of public services – and in particular – rebuilding the education system - is a key priority. Somalia has one of the world’s lowest enrolment rates for primary school‐aged children. Six in every ten children aged 6 to 13 are out of school and only a third of girls receive an education.
In response to these urgent needs, the Minister of Human Development and Public Services, Dr Maryan Qasim, took the lead in developing a strategy to enable one million children and youth to access education.
“Our youth are the potential of our country and its hope of a brighter tomorrow, its hopes of reconciliation and its hopes of development and progress,” said Dr Qasim. “We cannot afford to leave any child behind. Providing our children with education is the very basis of generating the human capital needed to develop our country and its resources.”
The “Go-2-School initiative” is supported by UNICEF along with the World Food Programme, UNESCO, the Global Partnership in Education, several other international NGOs and donors.
“This is a massively ambitious but very necessary Initiative,” said Sikander Khan, UNICEF Somalia Representative. “Schools need to be renovated and in some cases built from scratch, they require furniture and text books, teachers need to be trained and provided with salaries and the Ministries need capacity building. But we cannot wait for a totally peaceful, secure Somalia before we start ensuring children realize their basic human rights – and a crucial part of this is getting children back to school.”
The MOU was signed by UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Yoka Brandt; the Somali Minister of Finance and Planning, Mohamud Hassan Suleiman, and the Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Christian Friis Bac. Other participants included the Somali Ambassador to the UN, Dr Elmi Ahmed Duale and Charlotte Slente, the Danish State Secretary for Development Policy.
The Go 2 School Initiative has received international coverage, On 16 September 2013 the landmark Brussels Conference endorsed a New Deal Compact for Somalia to provide a new political, security and development architecture framing future relations between Somalia, its people and the international community. The Go 2 School Initiative is included in the Compact as a milestone under the Revenue and Services Peace and State-building Goal.