Somalia hopes to counter Al Shabaab with new education curriculum

BOSSASO, SOMALIA - MAY 11: Somali IDPs are seen in Biyokulule Primary school on May 11, 2009 in Bossaso, Bari Region, Puntland State in Somalia. With support from UNICEF the school has teaching materials, sport facilities and spacious classrooms. The situation in Somalia is compounded by the combination of the ongoing conflict, economic collapse, rising criminality and natural disasters. Over one million people are internally displaced, mainly due to insecurities in Central and Southern regions. Children are killed or maimed by the cross fire and shelling, and verified reports indicate that children continue to be recruited into armed groups. School enrollment rate in somalia is among the lowest in the world and only twenty-nine per cent of the population has access to safe water. Bossaso town has became a host city for people fleeing conflict and food insecurity from the central and southern part of Somalia and eastern Ethiopia. About 40,000 internally displaced people (IDPS) leaving in twenty-seven camps in Bossaso relaying on casual employment, petty trade and food handouts for their livelihood. UNICEF (United Nations Children Fund) is providing children who are most affected by the crisis with food, water, and schooling. Somalia is considered the most dangerous place in the world for aid workers with the deterioration in the security situation over the past year, severely restricting access to the most vulnerable population. (Photo by Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)
BOSSASO, SOMALIA – MAY 11: Somali IDPs are seen in Biyokulule Primary school (Photo by Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)

Somalia’s government is implementing a new curriculum for primary and secondary school students, for the first time since the civil war broke out in 1991.

In the past, schools had to make do with whatever materials came to hand. More than 40 curricula were used across Somalia, creating a hodgepodge of competing education systems in a variety of languages, the government said.

Schools sourced textbooks from more than 10 countries during the civil war and English and Arabic replaced Somali as the language of instruction

This new syllabus is better than the old Kenyan syllabus, which was in English.

Up to 2 million textbooks printed in Somali have been issued to pupils in most of Somalia since August and their schools have synchronised academic terms, the ministry of education said.

The new books cover English, Arabic, Somali, maths, Islamic studies, science, physical education, technology, and social studies.

“Students have coped well with the new curriculum because it is based on their religion, culture and vernacular,” said Abdulkadir Mohamed Sheikh, a teacher at Banadir Zone School.

“This new syllabus is better than the old Kenyan syllabus, which was in English. The new curriculum is the best,” Shuayb Muhidin said, a student at Banadir Zone School.

Religious education is particularly important, said State Minister of Higher Education And Culture Abdirahman Mohamed Abdulle. The al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgency also regularly launches deadly bomb attacks in Somalia in a bid to impose its own strict version of Islamic law.

The government hopes the new textbooks will help counter their message.

Somalia has one of the world’s lowest enrolment rates, with only four out of 10 children here in school, according to the United Nations. Education accounted for $16 million out of this year’s budget of $344 million

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