Teenage mum at school for the first time with her baby in her arms
By Hema Vinod and Yahye Abdi Ibrahim, UNICEF Education
Doolow, Gedo Region, Southern Somalia, 22 February 2017: It was only after Sucdi, now nineteen, had a baby, she realized how much she wanted to learn how to read and write.
Nineteen-year-old Sucdi is now studying in a UNICEF supported, Alternative Basic Education school, her one year old at her side. The school in Kaharey village, five kilometres south of Doloow town is supported by UNICEF partner HIRDA with funding from USAID.
“How can I help children if I cannot read or write?’ she explains as her reason for starting school at this stage. Her husband, a farmer, who is illiterate, fully supported her decision.
Sucdi sits happily with the other pupils ranging in age from eight to 16. While she was growing up there was no school in the area and her parents, who were pastoralists, did not realize the value of education. But now she is also an active member of the Community Education Committee, attending the mandatory weekly meeting and is fully involved in all the related activities with teachers, children and parents. She follows up children who are missing school and takes part in resolving conflicts. She is a leader in the class, helping the teacher and encouraging classmates to finish their assignments.
“I love learning English’ she says. In the two months she has been at school, she has learnt to read letters and can write her name as she proudly points to on the front of her exercise book. Her main request was for desks for the children.
USAID funds 35 Alternative Basic Education Centres in 35 villages in Luuq, Dollow and Belethawa in Gedo region. The ABE programme reaches marginalized pastoralist communities in the region that could not access education services.
As she sits on the floor, with her sleeping baby at her side, this inspiring young mother is working hard to make up for all the years when education was a far-fetched dream.