EDUCATION CRISIS IN SOUTHERN & CENTRAL SOMALIA Education Cluster rapid assessment warns of massive school drop out

 

EDUCATION CRISIS IN SOUTHERN & CENTRAL SOMALIA Education Cluster rapid assessment warns of massive school drop out

Global News 00:15

NAIROBI/ GENEVA, 9 August 2011 – With an estimated 1.8 million children aged between 5-17 years already out of school in South and Central Somalia, a rapid assessment conducted by the Education Cluster, in ten regions, warns this number could increase dramatically when schools open in September unless urgent action is taken.

Girls attend a class in Horyal Primary School in the Ifo refugee camp in North Eastern Province, near the Kenya-Somalia border. The class is being held outdoors due to a lack of indoor space. The camp is among three that comprise the Dadaab camps, located near the town of Dadaab in Garissa District.  On 10 July 2011 in eastern Kenya, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Elhadj As Sy visited the Dadaab camp for Somali refugees to focus increased attention on the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa. Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are the three Horn of Africa countries most affected by a deepening drought, rising food prices and the persistent conflict in Somalia. More than 10 million people, including in neighbouring Djibouti and Uganda, are now threatened by the worst drought in the region in 60 years. Somalia faces one of the most-severe food security crises in the world as it continues to endure an extended humanitarian emergency, with tens of thousands fleeing into Kenya and Ethiopia. More than 10,000 Somalis a week are arriving in the Dadaab camps, where aid partners struggle to meet the needs of some 360,000 people, in facilities meant for 90,000. In northern Kenya, more than 25 per cent of children suffer from global acute malnutrition  in the Turkana district the rate is at 37.4 per cent, its highest ever. An estimated 480,000 severely malnourished children are at risk of dying in drought-affected areas of Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti; while a further 1.6 million moderately malnourished children and the wider-affected population are at high risk of disease. UNICEF, together with Governments, UN, NGO and community partners, is supporting a range of interventions and essential services, especially for the displaced and for refugees, including feeding programmes, immunization campaigns, health outreach, and access to safe water and to improve sanitation. UNICEF is seeking US $31.8 million for the next three months to provide humanitarian assistance for children and women in the four most-affected countries. The assessment, which was carried out last week, indicates that with the movement of an estimated 200,000 school age children, part of thousands of households who have migrated to urban areas or across the border due to hunger, the gross primary school enrolment of 30 percent could plummet even further. This is likely to be compounded by increases in demand for education services in areas where influxes of internally displaced people have been the greatest, such as in Mogadishu and an acute shortage of teachers. Already, most of 10,000 teachers across the southern and central regions are dependent on incentives paid through the support of education cluster partners. Results indicate that in Lower and Middle Juba as well as Bay regions, up to 50 per cent of teachers may not return to the classroom when schools reopen.

The findings indicate that school feeding, provision of learning materials and teacher incentives and additional learning spaces are the top priorities in order to ensure that children can access learning opportunities, many for the first time.

“Education is a critical component of any emergency response,” said Rozanne Chorlton, UNICEF Somalia Representative. “Schools can provide a place for children to come to learn, as well as access health care and other vital services. Providing learning opportunities in safe environments is critical to a child’s survival and development and for the longer term stability and growth of the country.”

While Education Cluster partners are scaling-up their emergency education activities to meet the needs identified in the assessment, over HK$156 million (US$20 million) will be needed to carry out the plans. Funding received to date is inadequate while funding gaps in the education sector have reached their highest levels in the last four years.

Support is urgently needed to establish temporary learning spaces in internally displaced camps, support additional classroom space to accommodate new learners in host communities where people have migrated, provide water and sanitation facilities, provide school kits of essential education and recreational material to 435,000 children, provide incentives to 5,750 teachers and strengthen the Community Education Committee’s involvement in schools. Plans are also underway to provide food vouchers through schools which will benefit learners and their families and provide an incentive for children to stay in school, or to enrol for the first time in their lives. On 15 July, children attend a hygiene education class that is part of a UNICEF-supported WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) programme, in a primary school in Naros Village, near the town of Lodwar, capital of Turkana District, in Rift Valley Province. In this predominantly pastoralist region, many families are selling their livestock to buy increasingly expensive food.  In mid-July 2011, the crisis in the Horn of Africa  affecting Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Uganda  continues, with a worsening drought, rising food prices and the persistent conflict in Somalia. More than 10 million people are threatened by the worst drought in the region in 60 years. Somalia faces one of the worlds most severe food security crises as it continues to endure an extended humanitarian emergency, with tens of thousands fleeing into Kenya and Ethiopia. More than 10,000 Somalis a week are now arriving in the Dadaab camps in eastern Kenya, where aid partners are struggling to meet the needs of some 360,000 people in facilities meant for 90,000. In drought-affected areas of Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti, up to 500,000 severely malnourished children are at risk of dying, while a further 1.6 million moderately malnourished children and the wider-affected population are at high risk of disease. In northern Kenya, more than 25 per cent of children suffer from global acute malnutrition  in Turkana District the rate is at 37.4 per cent, its highest ever. UNICEF, together with government, UN, NGO and community partners, is supporting a range of interventions and essential services, especially for the displaced and for refugees, including feeding programmes, immunization campaigns, health outreach, and increased access to safe water and improvements to sanitation. UNICEF is seeking US $31.8 million for the next three months to provide humanitarian assistance for children and women in the four most affected countries.

“After decades of neglect and lack of funding, the educational opportunities for school-aged children in Somalia are already dire, so it is imperative that we do everything we can to make sure the situation does not get worse,” said Chorlton.”The assessment findings also reinforced the message from communities on the ground that education is a priority for their children.”

The rapid assessment conducted by the Education Cluster, which is co-led by UNICEF and Save the Children, was carried out by 14 NGOs and their partners on the ground, examining conditions at 589 learning centres including community schools, schools for the internal displaced and private schools. One cluster partner led the assessment in each region with data compiled based on interviews with school principals, Community Education Committees – made up of elders, parents and teachers – and grassroots organisations.