Mohamed Hersi Jama’s son, 11, and daughter, 10, are enjoying their third year in school in Lafta-Farweyne village, 60 km south of Hargeisa, whilst keeping up with their duties herding the family’s livestock.
They attend one of 64 schools set up in Somaliland to provide flexible education for children from nomadic pastoralist families.
Mohamed was informed about the new school in their area offering afternoon classes, and he enrolled the children so they could still tend their 150 goats in the morning. He was hesitant at first because he brought them up helping with the animals, but the system works out well and the school has many benefits.
“They go to school in the afternoon, that’s their chance at getting education. We were happy to learn they are given meals which encourages them to love school. The children didn’t know how to write A or B and now they can read and write for their parents!” he said, feeling happy about his children’s education.
Besides meals, the students also get free books and uniform and the tuition is free.
Mohamed said the fees were a barrier for him before. He has now understood the value of school, he said.
Around 20,500 students from pastoralist communities in Somaliland have benefited from this free education system tailored to their lifestyle. Schools normally close in the afternoon cutting off the children who have duties in the morning.
This project is run by Horn of Africa Voluntary Youth Committee (HAVOYOCO) and aims to promote education among poor and marginalised communities. Mohamed Adan Muse, HAVOYOCO’s head of implementation, said a large number of students joined school when they started the feeding programme. The flexibility of morning or afternoon classes was also an attraction.
Ibrahim Guled Ali took five of his children out of school in June 2018 when he could no longer afford the fees of $40 a month. He later re-enrolled them when he learned about this free education opportunity.
He told Radio Ergo that he was unemployed and had to discontinue his children’s education. Ibrahim said he gets by on support from his brother who owns a store in Hargeisa. He is happy his children are back in school despite the gap in their education.
“I never thought we would get this opportunity. The children are now busy with their studies,” he said.
Ibrahim observed that education brought positive changes to his family and he plans to ensure they complete middle school.
“Today I have got the help I need. I personally take them to school. I inquire about their situation and education. They are happy to be in school and they don’t miss any classes,” he said.
This project called ‘Education Cannot Wait’ is financed by the UN’s children’s agency UNICEF and is being implemented in all regions of Somaliland. This phase is expected to run until October 2022.