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Somalia, 20 May 2017: Children displaced by drought benefit from a JPLG-supported school in Berbera

© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Sarman
Mohamed, second from the left, flanked by his schoolmates in their classroom at Omar bin Khataab primary school in Berbera, which is supported by the Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralised Service Delivery (JPLG).

 
By Jamal Abdi Sarman

BERBERA, Somaliland, 20 May 2017 – Twelve year-old Mohamed Muse has been living with his aunt in the coastal town of Berbera for the past two months after the severe drought ravaging parts of Somaliland forced his mother to split up her ten children among relatives. Mohamed was lucky enough to be taken in by his aunt who enrolled him in Omar bin Khataab primary school, which is supported by the Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralised Service Delivery (JPLG).

“Together with my nine siblings, we took the long journey from Hidadley village about seventy kilometres from Hargeisa. All of our livestock died and the only school in the village was closed. My mother divided us among our relatives. I was taken in by my aunt who lives in Berbera and later enrolled in this school. I was lucky because some of my siblings settled in villages where the schools have closed. This school is better than the one I left, it has good classrooms and teachers,” a happy Mohamed said.

Omar bin Khataab primary school is one of 42 schools benefiting from the education decentralized service delivery model (SDM) in the Berbera district. This is a key initiative of the JPLG, which strengthens the capacity of councils to provide quality decentralized social services to their constituents.

Since 2014, Berbera district has taken on more and more of their devolved health and education functions.Through policy and capacity-building support from the JPLG, Berbera district council is able to pay auxiliary staff, provide incentives to primary school teachers, improve sanitation and rehabilitate, construct and equip classrooms in many parts of the district. The district has taken full ownership of its role, as demonstrated by the 440% rise in its education budget over the past three years.

Mohamed’s new school is currently seeing a rise in admissions due to the arrival of children displaced from drought-hit areas of Sahil region. It is estimated that up to three hundred displaced families have settled in Berbera town and its surroundings. Many schools have been forced to close in other regions as families are forced to migrate with their children. In regions like Toghdeer, a third of schools have been closed.

“We have the highest numbers of enrolment since the start of the year; so far the total student population is 718. There are more than thirty students displaced by drought who have been admitted in the last two months. So far we are coping well. Thanks to JPLG support, we have been able to do a number of things. We’ve been able to top up the teachers’ pay, restore four classrooms that were gutted by fire last year and also cope with the increased number of students.” Explained Foozi Bashe, the head teacher at Omar bin Khataab primary school.
 

© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Sarman Omar Binu Khataab primary school in Berbera, Somaliland.
Omar Binu Khataab primary school in Berbera, Somaliland.

 
Hassan Mohamed Guled, Sahil region Deputy Education Officer, indicated that the overall impact of the education SDM has been felt beyond improvements in school infrastructure and the payment of salaries for guards and cleaners. “The whole region of Sahil, especially disadvantage schools located in the costal districts have been supported. In total 223 teachers and 112 auxiliary staff are being supported via the JPLG programme. This has contributed to clean schools and improved quality of education among schools…..because when the teachers are retained it also contributes to the retention of students in schools. This helps achieve better learning outcomes for children,” Guled explained.

The Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralized Service Delivery contributes to peace consolidation, state development and equitable service delivery through support for policy reforms, capacity building, equitable service delivery and local economic development across Somaliland and Somalia.

Mohamed is looking forward to a bright future and when asked what he wants to become after finishing his studies, indicated “I would like to become Minister of Education and help uplift the education standard in Sahil and Somaliland”.

The programme is implemented by ILO, UNCDF, UNDP, UN-HABITAT and UNICEF, with funding from the European Union, DFID, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark. UNICEF’s role is to support communities in understanding their rights, defining development priorities with district councils and contributing to improved local service delivery. A total of 173 schools in three districts have received support from JPLG. Almost 36,315 students, including 15,377 girls, in Somaliland have benefited as a result.

 

 
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