20 Photos - Apr 27, 2012
Photo: With Women Council for Girl-Child advocate Mrs Hani Bashir and fellow WorldPulse Voices of Our Future Correspondent Deqa at New-Rays Hotel in Garowe.Photo: Special education in Somalia is almost unheard of and non-existent. Children with special needs are often excluded from the mainstream education system which is made for the all average able child. The schools dont offer specialised education and are not disability-friendly. We are currently advocating for a change in this, especially as they relate to girls' education. Here is an article i wrote about the value of educating children with disabilities; http://www.worldpulse.com/node/49414Photo: Many girls in Somalia do not find enough quality time to do their homework at home or elsewhere due to too many household chores. This of course affects their attendance, performance and participation as well as general achievements in school.

Meet Zamzam, at only she had the courage and confidence to stand up in front of a crowd of over 100, and through traditional Somali poetry called buranbuur, advocated for girls to be given more time at home to do their homework. Some people watched in utter silence, in awe and admiration and clapped for her as she stood there for close to 10 mins to recite a very long buranbuur she had compiled and memorized in which she criticised society about gender favoritism and stereotypes against girls and women!

Amazing!Photo: Women's groups in Somalia see an opportunity in advocating for the construction of girls-only schools as a major contributor to girls education.Photo: Though utterly important, female teachers come in short supply in Somalia due to various reasons. Currently, the Gender Unit of the Ministry of Education, where i am working as the Advisor, are doing research as to why this is so. We have found out that a combination of factors play a role. One school that had no female teachers argued that it didn't have any women on board as teachers because 'women often get pregnant and don't come to work'. But getting pregnant is a God-given right and should not be problematised. The school should be flexible enough to grant these women leave and realise that that is their right.Photo: Like everyone else, adolescent girls need a (female) role model in their lives when it comes to education.They need someone they can look up to, to draw hope and inspiration from.Photo: Amazing what girl-friendly spaces (rooms for private toilets, room for prayer, and changing room in secondary schools) can do to increase the attendance and performance of girls in school. Somali girls are generally very shy and in the Somali culture it is a shame to be seen going into or coming out of toilets. Fort his reason female students dont use the school latrines or they go home and sometimes never come back. GFS are changing these realities. In the Pic is me after going for a monitoring visit to a GFS in Garowe. These girls were so happy with their GFS in their school.Photo: Education is important for both and girls and that is why we need to educate both of them equally. Taking care of too many household chores before and after school which lead to fatigue contribute to girls coming to school late, poor concentration during class and poor grades. One way to overcome this is to teach/educate parents in the first place and the entire household in the second place about the impact of these chores on the girl-child. Parents must encourage both girls and boys to clean after themselves and that they are equal in the house and indeed in access education and in their respective performances.Photo: Many children in Somalia are displaced in their own country. Here Somali boys and girls receive an education in an IDP camp in Garowe. IDPs children face multiple challenges at the same time. Recently a mother lost all of her 4 siblings to a fire in the hut they were living in in an IDP camp in Garowe. 

The picture of the mother looking for her children amid fire and ashes is one that will break your heart.Photo: Many Somali girls dont have school materials such as books, pens and uniforms. UNICEF Somalia is one of the major providers of scholastic materials and a contributor to girls education in Somalia.Photo: Girls make up a significant proportion of internally displaced refugees. Here boys and girls receive a lesson in a makeshift school from a voluntary teacher in an IDP camp. IDPs face numerous challenges in Somalia; lack of proper education, lack of medical facilities, vulnerability to gender-based violence, displacement, trauma, isolation, lost families, malnutrition, just to mention a few.Photo: A new development in big towns in Somalia; we are seeing more and more an equal nr of boys and girls in classrooms. In Puntland, the % of girls in primary school was 27% in 2010. in 2013 that has risen to 48%!!

But is there also equal participation?Photo: A young female teacher teaching both boys and girls as they sit on the ground. Notice the boys are in-front and the girls behind the boys. From an early age, boys and girls are taught how and where to sit. They are taught about how to socialize so that they meet the gender expectations of the society.

Another challenge is that many schools in Somalia do without the necessary school supplies that others would take for granted.Photo: Promoting female teachersPhoto: Scholarships for girls to access education can boost up national development and gender equality. Education is a weapon against disease, poverty and oppression. We are lobbying for free education in primary schools in Puntland!....but realise we are very far from realising this.Photo: These are some of the female teachers we are working with. They are a major boost-up to girls education.In a typical class being taught by a female teacher, you would find that girls are more active, more vocal and behave totally different. The female teachers also speak to the children as if they are their own sons and daughters, they engage differently with the children, they are more aware of who is dominating and who is shy, they resolve conflicts more successfully without escalation and most importantly they demand and are given lots of respect by the childrenPhoto: Indeed when you educate a man you educate an individual, when you educate a woman you educate an entire nation or generation. This is one of the many posters we used during our recent 'social mobilisation and community awareness nation-wide campaign' on barriers to girls education in Somalia. Using an educated young mother who is successful in life because of the education her parents gave her, we showed parents in the most remote rural areas the benefits of educating their daughters; when you educate your daughters, you will produce good and healthy mothers who can support their own families and the families they come from- that was our message!Photo: Some female students in Somalia suffer from medical complications which can easily be treated if detected on time. This young girl is a recipient of the Accelerated Female Participation in Education (AFPE scholarship funds), an Affirmative Action funded by the European Union and implemented by the Gender Unit of the Ministry of Education of Puntland in collaboration with UNICEF. She has eye problems for which she has never received any treatment. As is the case in other countries, schools in Somalia dont provide any medical or psycho-social support to their students. For more on gender issues in the education sector in Somalia, please visit http://genderineducationsomalia.blog.comPhoto: Conflict, displacement, armed violence, weapons and ammunition is a major challenge to girls education in terms of access upto completion. In this picture a mother gets whipped and is nearly shot at by an insensitive man (obviously not a parent) during a food distribution moment. Notice the baby in her arms and the other children nearby watching in utter shock and total disbelief.Photo: The creation of Girls Empowerment Forums and Life Skills training on topics such as confidence building and communication skills for girls in secondary schools boosts up their self esteem.

In this picture girls learn about what holds them back and are given 2-day training on lifeskills.