UNICEF in Somalia safeguards girls’ rights to education and development
To promote gender equity in education, UNICEF Somalia is striving to improve both access to and the quality of girls’ education in Puntland and Somaliland. Gender Units at the Puntland and Somaliland Ministry of Education (MoE) were established. The Units’ active participation and technical contribution helped to mainstream ‘gender’ throughout the Puntland Education Sector Strategy Plan (ESSP). Seven regional gender focal points were appointed to administer regional-level gender works and became the link between local education service beneficiaries and the central administration. Such links help efficient implementation of the ESSP in the regions and districts. Social mobilization activities include campaigns, radio broadcasts to 500,000 people throughout Puntland, provision of sanitary kits, and scholarship sponsorship of girl students through the Accelerated Female Participation in Education (AFPE) Fund.
To prioritize the quality of girls’ education, the regional gender focal points are working closely with the regional education officers to monitor the performance and attendance of AFPE beneficiaries. An onsite monitoring and supervision was conducted of 452 AFPE beneficiaries in the two regions in 2012. Four girls’ leadership committees in schools were established to supervise and monitor the use of girl- friendly spaces, including separate latrines for girls and hand washing facilities. Establishment of Girl Friendly Schools focusing on improving teachers’ capacity is also planned in four schools in Puntland. In Somaliland, 12 female teachers from pre-service teachers training were recruited to be part of MoE teaching force. In Puntland, plans are underway to train 40 untrained female teachers through Garowe Teachers’ College and East Africa University.
UNICEF and the MoE are exploring ways to improve the working environment of teachers – particularly regarding payment. There are 4,828 primary school teachers in Puntland (2011), yet only 20% are on the government payroll. A study to project costing and resources allocated to teacher salaries will be conducted to accurately identify financial gaps. This exercise will help develop an effective policy for improving teachers' payroll systems and should lead to increased interest in the teaching profession.
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