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Somali students learning about the world  with ABE supplied learning materials
Somali students learning about the world with ABE supplied learning materials.
Valerie Price UNICEF

Somalia’s basic social services have been decimated due to civil unrest and years of underinvestment. USAID assists regional authorities and local communities by providing education services that mitigate conflict and improve the capacity of governance institutions to deliver quality and equitable services. USAID is expanding access to education, and contributing to a more stable future by:

  • Increase enrollment and retention of school age children from target groups.
  • Enhance capacity of government to develop and implement a non-formal education policy and strategy.
  • Strengthen capacity of community groups to support education programs.
  • Increase support for education among parents, elders, and religious leaders.
  • Improve reading outcomes.
  • Improve professional development and performance of teachers

Alternative Basic Education for Pastoralists (ABE)

The Alternative Basic Education for Pastoralists (ABE) activity aims to expand the provision of education services and improve development and stability in target areas in Somalia. ABE seeks to improve access to equitable, quality education for pastoralists and other marginalized children in the Jubaland State of Somalia – an area of critical need. The target groups for ABE programs are children and youth (6 to 14 years old) who have been disconnected from school for significant periods of time or have never been to school.

More than two decades of conflict have nearly destroyed Somalia’s educational system, which is characterized by poor quality, insufficient numbers of qualified teachers, and inadequate resources. The educational deficit in Somalia is one of the most acute in the world. Of the total 4.7 million school-aged population (12.3m total Somali population), 972,000 children or one out of every five Somali student-aged child is displaced. Specifically, in the months of November 2016 to August 2017, close to 50,000 children lost the opportunity to go to school due to displacement.

Somalia’s pastoralist communities – which account for nearly 60% of Somalia’s population – face further impediments to education as communities move with their children and livestock in search of water and pasture, making education in normal, static schools impractical and often impossible.

Assessments suggest that even for those children who are in school, they are not actually learning.  In an Early Grade Reading Assessment conducted in a limited sample of schools around Mogadishu testing students in Grades 2 through 4, when Grade 2 students were asked to read a passage, nearly half of students (47 percent) in Grade 2 could not identify a single word.

It is also important to note that gender discrimination has resulted in a massively skewed teaching pool.  National Education Management Information System (EMIS) 2017 data indicates that over 90% of primary and secondary teachers are male.  This skews the teaching pool, negatively impacting girls’ literacy, learning, and retention.

Because of this deficit, youth miss out on critical services, face limited economic opportunities, and become increasingly vulnerable to recruitment by extremists and/or criminal elements.

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Last updated: August 19, 2019

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