As the drought ravages Somalia, 420,000 children are at risk of dropping out of school as livelihoods are completely wiped out and the learners are drawn into the daily struggle of getting sustenance. Of these, 189,000 are girls who face the risk of retrogressive practices such as early marriages and Female Genital Mutilation. The 231,000 boys risk being recruited into dangerous and illegal activities further jeopardizing not only their lives but also the security situation of the nation.
According to a recently released United Nations report, over 80 schools had been closed in Jubaland and Galmudug states. A further 97 schools in both states are at imminent risk of closure, effectively putting 45,000 students out of class.
CARE is concerned about the long-term impact that these closures and drop-outs will have on learners in the country. With more than 3 million out-of-school children, Somalia has one of the biggest global populations of out-of-school children. More than two decades of conflict have crippled Somalia's education system due to insufficient numbers of qualified teachers, and inadequate resources. This has meant that learners are left with few to no options when it comes to learning opportunities.
14-year-old Aisha is one of the many who had to drop out as her family relocated in search of food. "I was so happy going to school. I felt like I had a chance in life. This drought has taken me back from where I was before. I now spend most of my time helping my parents do menial jobs so that we get money for food. I also walk long distances to get water for the family. I wish one day I can join my friends back at school but for now, my focus is on making sure my family survives."
Iman Abdullahi, CARE Somalia Country Director, said, "Our teams are witnessing worrying trends in the schools we support. The number of children dropping out is increasing daily. Families are now left with no choice but to withdraw their children from school so that they work to support them in getting food and water. Without increased support, we will see all the gains attained in the past decade eroded."
Currently, CARE provides monthly incentives to teachers and learning resources to more than 130 schools and supports girls through the provision of hygiene kits. We are working closely with communities and parents through education committees to follow up on children who have dropped out or are at risk. To ensure quality education, we are also constructing and rehabilitating schools across the country.
CARE calls on donors to urgently prioritize increasing funding to the Somalia Humanitarian Response, which is currently only 5 percent funded. If no urgent interventions are made, not only will formal education opportunities for a generation be lost, but we could see a rise in fatalities due to hunger.
"The drought has stolen my dreams, I don't know if I will ever become a doctor as I have always wanted, I wish for my family to have enough food so that I can go back to school and work on my dreams, "Aisha said.
For media inquiries, please contact Walter Mawere, Advocacy & Communication Coordinator for CARE in Somalia: firstname.lastname@example.org