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Somalia, 6 January 2015: Shab’aan’s story

© UNICEFSomalia/2014/Sarman
Shab’aan Ismail – who used to spend her days herding goats – stands at the blackboard doing some maths.

Twelve year old Shab’aan used to spend her days herding goats in the mountains but then she had the chance to go to school and her life has changed dramatically.

January 2015 – Families in the remote village of Waabaha Village clearly recognize the value of education. The only permanent building in this remote village tucked between beautiful mountains and a seasonal river, is a classroom with a blackboard,

Inside the class there are fifty children, including Shab’aan Ismail who used to herd her parents’ goats in the Waabaha mountains from early morning to evening. Now she spends her days learning.

“Every morning after the goats and sheep were milked, I used to take them out for grazing. I stayed there and returned around 4 pm and I could not attend school,” she said.

Somalia has one of the world’s lowest enrolment rates for primary school aged children with only four out of ten in the classroom.

Shab’aan only began school recently although she is 12 years old. While the official enrolment age is six, many Somali children start late – or never attend at all.

UNICEF in partnership with Educate A Child (EAC) is working to change this by identifying out of school, marginalized children and providing them with access to quality primary education. It aims to enrol 64,000 children in the next three years. The project will provide supplies for over 300 schools, construct, rehabilitate and furnish 800 classrooms, train teachers, heads and deputy heads, support community organizations and provide latrines and water.

© UNICEFSomalia/2014/Sarman
Schoolgirl Shab’aan and her mother sit outside their home in rural Somaliland.

Waabaha is one of the areas targeted by the project which will ensure that many other children like Shab’aan, living in remote areas, have the opportunity to go to school and that the facilities and teachers are there to ensure they have a good quality education.

Shab’aan’s mother, Saynab Ahmed, is pleased that her daughter has been able to go to school.

“I really like my daughter going to school and getting a formal education. It is going to help her by giving her good knowledge that will help her become a better person who will be beneficial to the community in future,” she said.

The school has given Shab’aan new ambitions for the future.

“I would like to become a doctor to help treat my people against diseases like diarrhea and malaria,” she says with a beaming smile.



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