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Somalis rally around the regions to send one million children to school

Mogadishu/Garowe/Hargeisa: 8 September 2013 – There was a rare atmosphere of excitement and celebration at Presidential Palace known as Villa Somalia in Mogadishu for the launch of the wide ranging Go 2 School campaign to send one million children and youth to school.

Ten year old Ramla sat at the back of the hall with other children from her Bondhere school. She was blowing up a huge white balloon with “Adaa Dugsiyada”  (Go To School in Somali) scrawled on it.

“I came here to take part because education is everything,” she said. “I want to learn and then I can grow up and teach children and help my country.”

She then filed to the front with her classmates – each wearing a teeshirt with a single large letter – so that when they stood in line it spelt out the same slogan in Somali and sang rousing songs on education to the assembled audience of education officials, teachers, UN representatives, civil society and journalists.

Children who go to school are a minority in Somalia where six out of ten children do not have any education – one of the worst enrolment rates in the world. Drop out rates are high and few make it to secondary education.

The Go 2 School Campaign, which covers primary school children and young people up to 18, will cover all regions and was simultaneously launched in Garowe capital of Puntland and Hargeisa capital of Somaliland in the north. The date was International Literacy Day and the first day of school in the Central South zone.

The Go 2 School Initiative, which will continue for three years, is led by the education authorities and supported by UNICEF, WFP and other stakeholders. The Minister for Human Development and Public Services, Dr Maryan Qasim, who is responsible for education, told the launch that she came up with the idea after only a few days in the Ministry realizing that meaningful change could only come through education.
“Children and youth are the future of this country and we can’t afford to leave any child behind. If you don’t invest in your youth and children today then forget about tomorrow,” she said.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud pointed out that most of his own education had taken place in Somalia, but that over the past 20 years parents had not been available to guide and educate their children. He promised this would all change.

 “We are preparing tomorrow”s leaders, engineers, teachers and politicians,” said President Mohamud, who was an educationalist and co-founder of a higher education institute in Mogadishu, SIMAD.

The UNICEF Somalia Representative, Sikander Khan, said the G2S campaign required investment in the future of the country and that the work had just started.

”My plea to the older generation is let’s get the children back into the classroom – there is no reason for them to be out on the streets,” he said.

In Hargeisa a procession of school children, parents, education officials and UN staff made their way from the Ministry of Education to the Civic Centre led by the Police brass band. The Go 2 School Initiative was then officially launched by Somaliland’s State Minister for Education, Ahmed Nur Fahuye

In Garowe, the Go 2 School campaign was launched with fanfare in the regional parliamentary hall.  The Speaker of the Puntland Assembly, Abdirashid Mohamed Hirsi said education remained a priority and they would work to achieve the objective of the Go 2 school initiative which targets 150,000 children in Puntland.

“I urge all parents to take advantage of this opportunity that the government and its partners have created so that the current generation can have a better
future than the one we have gone through,” he said.

Puntland’s Deputy Minister of Education, Jama Yasin Jama urged everybody to rally behind the Go 2 School Initiative to lay a firm foundation for the education system and allow the current progress to accelerate.

“The Ministry has made tremendous progress in the last five years with the support of our partners and we need to sustain the fight against illiteracy,” Mr Jama said. “The Go 2 School initiative provides us the roadmap for the future of our children and the education system as a whole.”

Read more:

Children attending school for the first time talk about their hopes for the future

Girls flock to free primary school set up by women teachers

Massive campaign to get one million Somali children into school to be launched



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