Over 10,000 Somali adolescent girls and young women graduated from an 11-month non-formal education course aimed at enhancing literacy, numeracy, and life leadership skills on Wednesday in Mogadishu, Somalia.
The 10,616 graduates include girls living with disabilities who have emerged as influential role models and ambassadors, championing school enrollment and active participation within their communities and among their peers. The course was funded by the United States and the United Kingdom.
Access to education remains a significant challenge in Somalia, particularly for girls and young women, with only 25 percent of primary school-aged girls attending school.
Various obstacles, such as early marriage, domestic responsibilities, and gender biases within families, further hinder girls’ access to education.
Recognizing this critical issue, the Adolescent Girls’ Education in Somalia (AGES) program, jointly funded by USAID and British Embassy Mogadishu, is addressing the gap by supporting over 80,000 out-of-school adolescent girls and young women (aged 15-25) to participate in education and life skills programs.
These programs provide foundational reading and numeracy skills, leadership opportunities, and financial literacy. AGES aims to empower girls to lead healthier and more productive lives, reducing the likelihood of early marriage and enabling them to contribute to their communities and build a brighter future for themselves and their families.
The United States and the UK are committed to ensuring that their support reaches the most marginalized, particularly vulnerable girls, with the education services that are their right.
Speaking at the ceremony, the State Minister, Office of the Prime Minister said: “Education is the cornerstone of Somalia’s progress, fostering critical thinking and empowering women for economic development. Thanks to USAID and the UK, these young women are equipped with vital skills, setting the foundation for a brighter future where informed, educated women contribute significantly to health, nutrition, and societal well-being.”
“As we celebrate the achievements of these inspiring young women at the AGES graduation, we recognize the transformative power of education. Through collaborative efforts with the Government of Somalia, alongside our valued partner, the UK, we take pride in our joint efforts to invest in educational opportunities, with a particular focus on empowering young women who may have missed the chance for education in their childhood. This ceremony is a testament to the potential within each graduate, and we remain committed to fostering opportunities that empower girls and elevate communities” said Taylor Tinney, the Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu.
The UK’s Deputy Ambassador Nick Jaques said: “It is a privilege to be here to meet these intelligent young women who represent over 10,000 girls successfully graduating the UK and USAID-funded AGES programme this year. The girls graduating today are an important reminder of the millions of girls across the country seeking a decent education. Unlocking their talents and skills is crucial to building a safer and stronger Somalia tomorrow.”
“Today marks a momentous occasion as we celebrate the graduation of 10,616 young women through the AGES program, funded by the United States and the UK. The graduates’ resilience and dedication are commendable, and this achievement reflects the collective efforts of the Ministry of Education, CARE, and our esteemed partners. Education is the key to empowering our youth and building a brighter future for Somalia. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the graduates and express gratitude to all involved in this transformative initiative.” said Nuura Mustaf, State Minister of Education, Culture and Higher Education.
“Through our partnership with USAID and FCDO, the AGES program has empowered girls, including those facing significant challenges such as child labor, early marriage, and disability, providing literacy, numeracy, and financial skills,” said Ummy Dubow, CARE Somalia Country Director.
“With some 5 million children out of school in Somalia, our aim is to enhance access, retention and transition to formal and non-formal education, offering hope and support to vulnerable girls. This graduation marks the achievements of these girls, underscoring the impact of USAID and FCDO’s support in realizing their life aspirations.”The AGES project, (2018 – 2024), jointly funded by USAID ($15.5m) and UK (£10.8m) and implemented by CARE International, seeks to increase access to education for over 80,000 ultra-vulnerable girls in Somalia.