Media Centre

Press releases

Feature stories

Photo essays

Reporting guidelines

Media contact


Somalia, 21 June 2016: UNICEF and Government of Italy ensure education for all

© Save the Children /Crowley/2016
Sundus watches over her family's herd.

21 June 2016 – “When I grow up and finish my studies, I want to become a doctor and help sick people in my community,” says 14 year old Sundus. Last year, when her mother died after a short illness, Sundus’ dreams of completing her education were almost lost. Thanks to the dedication of her family and UNICEF Somalia’s support, she is back in school.

Sundus lives in a pastoralist community, and her family’s nomadic lifestyle is centred on caring for livestock. Nomadic pastoralists account for a quarter of the population in Somalia. They frequently move with their families to find grazing land and water for their animals. Their way of life requires a unique set of development needs, and is vulnerable to environmental changes and conflict. Pastoralist children are amongst the most excluded from education opportunities.

Both girls and boys are engaged in herding animals from an early age and girls look after their younger siblings and work in the home. “When I wake up in the morning, I used to take the goats to graze with my mother,” says 14 year-old Sundus. “Now I stay to watch them on my own, but I like watching them.”

To ensure children from nomadic communities also have access to quality basic education that can adapt to their lifestyle, UNICEF works with local authorities and other partners to support (ABE). These interventions include temporary learning spaces, accelerated curriculum, flexible timetables, interactive radio instruction and appropriate and relevant reading materials, education kits, teacher resources, and other materials to help provide quality, relevant, and flexible educational opportunities for pastoralist children.

Sundus started school when the Alternative Basic Education (ABE) came to her village. Alternative Basic Education (ABE) is a unique approach designed to reach pastoralist children, like Sundus. Its flexible approach is adapted to the nomadic lifestyle and offers a second chance for out-of-school children who missed out on the opportunity to enroll in formal primary school. “When I was at home, I would help out,” she says. “I would wash the dishes and sometimes cook breakfast and dinner for the family.”

© Save the Children /Crowley/2016
Sundus in her new school in Gardo.

After her mother passed away, the family struggled to make ends meet. Relatives in Gardo encouraged Sundus to come and study in near them. The ABE structure is closely aligned to the formal school system, so children completing ABE can transition to the corresponding grade level in formal education as long as the quality is comparable. This means that Sundus was able to easily transition to a formal school in Gardo town. Sundus’ father was happy that his daughter didn’t have to drop out of school. Sundus is now in level 5 in her new school in Gardo where she is thriving. “We study seven subjects, including Arabic, Islamic studies, maths, science, social science, Somali and English,” “says Sundus. “Arabic is my favourite!”

The Government of Italy’s support to UNICEF Somalia is critical to extending access to bring out of school children to school. In 2015, UNICEF Somalia interventions encouraged an additional 84,789 children including 37,990 girls to enrol in formal primary schools across Somalia. More than 10,000 over aged out-of-school children and children from pastoralist communities are benefiting from education opportunities in Alternative Basic Education Centres.



 Email this article

unite for children