By Paul Ndiho
January 18, 2012
Thousands of teachers conducted an unprecedented primary school census in northern Somalia, helping produce the first comprehensive government-led survey on the state of schools in that region.
In an effort to rehabilitate the education system in the semi – autonomous states of Puntland and Somaliland, the centralized government launched a massive population survey of all the school-going children in a country torn apart by conflict.
Hassan Suleiman leads the census.
“This information is very important for planning; the resources are very limited in Somaliland in terms of school construction, in terms of teachers, in terms of textbooks. The resources are very inadequate. These small resources, we need to plan very effectively in order to increase the quality of education, for example we are now taking enrolment rate so when we want to decide to construct new class for new schools, we have to analyze this information and determine the ratio of teacher to students, the ratio of textbooks to the pupils.”
Hassan grew up in the United Kingdom and is one of ten advisors hired under a program to bring professional Somalis living abroad back home to work alongside senior education ministry staff. The program is designed to improve planning and policy, human resources and financial management for the goal of higher education standards.
“We think that by contributing to improve the capacities of those ministries of Education, we will help the delivery in all other program that we can carry out in Somaliland and Puntland. So if you have a ministry of education that is able to design the policy for primary education for example and have the capacity for implementing to have management systems on resources on teachers that means that the problems that you have on primary education will deliver better.”
Sohar Koshin is a technical advisor with the Education Ministry’s Gender Unit who grew up in Holland. She explains how new media such as Facebook and Twitter are connecting with Somalis living abroad to raise funds for girl’s education.
“We saw the importance of having a different department or unit that is entirely responsible for encouraging girls to go to school and also doing research about what we are the issues and looking for room of avenues for potential solutions and how we can implement those solutions.”
Koshin comes to this school often to chat with the girls who are enjoying a newly-built ‘girl friendly space.’ The facility has toilets with running water and a communal space where the girls can study. It reflects the effort by some of Somalia’s civil war refugees, who are returning to help to reconstruct a national education system.