Every child’s right to an education should be fulfilled, says UNICEF
Hargeisa, Northwest Somalia – “Every child’s right to an education must be fulfilled,” UNICEF Education Specialist Safia Jibril Abdi recently said during the commemoration of the Global Action Week on Education in Northwest Somalia (“Somaliland”).
“We must all strive to make schools more accessible to children, and especially girls who usually do not have the same opportunity as boys. We have to change this unequal trend and ensure equal opportunities for all children irrespective of gender, economic situation or any other social-cultural factors,” said Safia as she appealed to the local administration which has signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child to abide by its commitments to ensure children go to school.
Speaking during the event, the Director General of the Ministry of Education in Somaliland, Mr Abdirahman Maal decried the low gross enrolment in Somaliland. Total gross enrolment at primary level in Somaliland is 44%, with that for girls being 37% as per the 2006-2007 Primary Education School Survey. The gross enrolment ratio for boys in Somaliland is 52 %. Mr Abdirahman praised the week-long campaign for proposing solutions to the most pressing problems facing families in regard to education and called for greater community participation to secure the right to an education for children. He said it was the local administration’s wish to ensure all children and youth were in school.
Northwest Somalia has celebrated the Global Action Week on Education for each of the last three years during the month of April. During the week various activities were held to mark the occasion under the theme - One Goal: Education for All. More than 10 organizations collaborated with UNICEF and the Ministry of Education to organize the activities. Among them were World Vision, Mercy Corps, Save the Children Fund, Norwegian Refugee Committee and other local partners.
Although celebrations took place in different regions of Northwest Somalia, the main event took place in Hargeisa where five schools with child-to-child clubs led activities. Also participating in the main event were parents and representatives of organizations involved in the education sector. The club members highlighted some of the key issues in the education sector through drama performances and songs that emphasised the need of education for all and equal opportunity of boys and girls. The UNICEF-supported clubs have taken the lead in social mobilization and advocacy to promote children’s rights to education, protection and wellbeing in Somalia. In this peer-to-peer programme, children learn from each other about relevant life skills through school-based events such as debates and inter-school competitions as well as engaging with elders in their own communities to discuss social issues that affect the lives of youth and children.
The Global Action Week on Education is held annually to highlight the need for thousands of children and adults to get a chance to go to school. It also appeals to world leaders to act on promises to ensure their citizens get an education and gives students a chance to speak out on issues related to education for all.
UNICEF and its partners are working to ensure that education remains a development priority and to support national policies that aim to provide access to school for all children in a safe, gender-sensitive environment.