Meet the young teacher changing lives of displaced children
“I want to act as a role model for my community. I want to be a teacher to empower the next generation of girls.”
In the Southern Somalia district of Dollow, near the border with Ethiopia and Kenya, a crowded classroom is alive with laughter, conversations, and chuckles. The teacher, Sureer Farah, is engaging children, of which many are internally displaced people (IDPs) that reside in Kahary IDP Camp. She is teaching them to read, explaining the rules of pluralization, punctuation, and spelling. She patiently repeats and explains, but keeping the young learners engaged is not an easy task.
If you were new to the area, you would think Sureer is the student and not the teacher due to her young age of 19 years. Sureer, who is from Kahary IDP camp, immediately stands out and it is easy to tell that the children respect her and listen to her whenever she is in class. She completed her high school education in Jijiga, Ethiopia, where she passed with distinction. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds she could not proceed to university, however considering her young age, this is a target that she will pursue, and she will not give up her dream of joining university and graduating.
“I teach Somali language and Arabic which I am very good at, apart from these two subjects I always try to make my classes interesting and worthwhile for my young learners. I prepare different tasks for different groups. This includes using crossword puzzles, reading selected keywords, filling in missing words or letters, and even writing different words from one keyword. Students then exchange these tasks in groups, and they present it in front of the class. This builds their confidence and enables them to acquire public speaking skills from a young age,” she explains. As a result of using different innovative ways of teaching Somali and Arabic, she reports that over 90 per cent of her young learners can read fluently and with comprehension.
Teaching is not a simple job and requires patience and adaptability, especially in the Somalia context and in an IDP setup like the one Sureer teaches in. Though she handles different types of pupils in every class, she never fails to treat every child in the same way and inspires them to be the better version of themselves. “I take pride in what I do, and I am responsible for every child that I teach in this learning space. I always try my best to help every child transform better in their life, from a child who doesn’t know how to speak to one that is the best in their class. To be honest, I see this as more than a profession because I take a keen interest in the children's lives. I prioritize understanding every child’s potential, learning speed and interests while providing feedback to help them improve. I often also interact with their parents to inform them about their children’s performance and discuss enhancing their learning,” concludes Sureer.
There is a difference between a good teacher and a great teacher and that is, that a great teacher inspires every student to be like them. Though students come across many teachers in their education, they have at least one teacher as their role model, who has inspired them to grow as responsible and honorable adults in society. “Teacher Sureer has helped me with my Arabic studies. I have improved my reading and writing. I always look forward to her classes because they are fun and interesting,” says Fatuma, a young learner in Kahary IDP school.
"Even though I have not completed my university studies, this has not stopped me from learning every day, updating myself to prepare for my future and prepare my pupils for this world and the ever-changing society. I am committed to this craft, and it is one that I pursue,” says Sureer.
In Dollow, UNICEF, through its partner Himilo Relief and Development Association (HIRDA) has been active in addressing the educational needs of children, specifically through the construction of Temporary Learning Spaces (TLS), supporting a total of number of 2,566 children including 1,252 girls. Through the current education in emergencies programming supported by the Government of Germany through KfW Development Bank, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the Government of Finland and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), children are provided with clean, safe drinking water for daily consumption, teaching and learning materials and 50 teachers are provided with monthly incentives.