EC and UNICEF join hands to support education in Somalia

Nairobi, 31 January 2005 - Education prospects for Somali children are to benefit from a European Commission grant of 4.5 million euros, UNICEF Somalia Representative, Jesper Morch, said today following the signing of an agreement between the two bodies.

UNICEF will use the funds to promote pupil enrolment and to ensure quality teaching and learning under initiatives spanning a two year period from 2005. Part of the funds will be used in a major education enrolment campaign through UNICEF Somalia's Every Child Counts Initiative. Community education committees which manage schools in most of Somalia will also be targeted under specific interventions to ensure they are better able to manage schools under their supervision.

Currently only about 19.9% per cent of Somali children are in school. According to the 2003/2004 Survey of Primary Schools in Somalia, 285,574 children were enrolled in primary schools. This was a 5.7% increase from the previous year. Of those enrolled only 35% are girls. As per the latest survey there were 9,088 teachers of whom only 1,210 (13%) were female with one teacher having about 31 students per class in average. There are 1,172 operational schools in Somalia. Since 1997 UNICEF, its partners and local authorities have been collecting data on primary education through annual school surveys, made possible in part by funding support from the EC.

Without a central government for most of the last 14 years, the task of running schools has mostly fallen on community education committees established in 94% of the schools in Somalia. UNICEF in collaboration with local authorities has trained and will under the new agreement, continue to support the committees.

"UNICEF intends to use the EC grant to continue the in-service training of teachers, rehabilitate schools and equip them with adequate water and sanitation facilities," said Noel Ihebuzor, UNICEF Somalia Education Officer. ''Training for local education authorities and ministries is also to be undertaken under this partnership. UNICEF will also use the funds to create community learning centers where less privileged Somalis will be able to access primary education."

The support's net effect will be to ensure 80,000 more Somali children go to school and thus acquire the necessary skills that will make them live healthier and happier lives. A particular beneficiary group in this partnership project is the girl child, who is specifically identified for special support in the areas of enrolment and retention and quality learning in primary school.

Most primary schools now use the new lower primary national curriculum developed by UNICEF, UNESCO and other partners. Previous support from the EC and other partners made it possible to develop curricula and materials for the primary school system. The present funding is further testimony of EC commitment to broadening access to quality basic education services for all and for girls in particular.

UNICEF welcomes this renewal of EC support to the education sector in Somalia which has since 2000 seen major improvements in access and quality.

For further information contact

1. Noel Ihebuzor, Education Officer, UNICEF Somalia. Email: Tel: +254-20-623950/53/55/70. Mobile: +254-734-400-080.

2. Robert Kihara, Assistant Communication Officer, UNICEF Somalia. Email: Tel: +254-20-623950/53/55/70. Mobile: +254-721-244-800.