Abdi, 30, was born and raised in Barsanguni village, in the Lower Juba region of southern Somalia. At the age of 15, he went to Somalia’s capital Mogadishu to study, before becoming a teacher himself.
“I have a great passion for teaching,” Abdi says. “When I am in the class, I always have energy and enthusiasm. I want to teach and contribute to helping the next generation become the leaders of tomorrow.”
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A new primary school
Abdi is one of the teachers at the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) new primary school in Barsanguni village. The school was built in 2020 and is for displaced people and their host communities. It consists of four classrooms, an office, four gender-segregated latrines and a child-friendly space.
Both the local community and Jubaland State’s Ministry of Education were actively engaged in identifying the site, constructing the school buildings and enrolling students. The school is run by a community education committee, whose members have been trained in school management, leadership and other specialist roles.
A total of 587 students (320 boys, 267 girls) are now enrolled in the school and are attending morning and afternoon classes. The school uses the recently launched Somali curriculum and teaches up to grade 3. There are five teachers, whose salaries are paid by NRC.
Three million children out of school
“Children in Barsanguni didn’t have the opportunity to attend school previously because of the lack of facilities,” explains Abdi. “Before the collapse of the Siyad Barre regime in 1990, the village had a two-classroom school, which was later destroyed during the civil war. The village has had no school since then, leaving hundreds of children without education.”
More than three million children in Somalia are out of school, and the country has one of the lowest primary school enrolment rates in the world. Those in southern and central Somalia are affected the most. Parents are often unable to afford school fees, and children face long and sometimes dangerous journeys to school.
“When you are in the classroom, you enjoy teaching these young children and feel more responsible, because you see how excited they are to learn,” explains Abdi.
“The morning and afternoon classes are full due to the lack of a functioning school in the village,” he continues. “The children are really committed – some of them walk long distances to attend school every morning.”
Abdi was once displaced himself. He was forced to flee his home in Barsanguni and ended up in a camp for displaced people in Kismayo, some 45 km away. He always wanted to go to school, but couldn’t because his parents were not able to pay his school fees. They were struggling to put food on the table, but it didn’t stop Abdi from pursuing his education dreams.
Education = hope
At the age of 15, Abdi went to stay with his uncle in Mogadishu in search of education. The uncle also lived in a displacement camp, but there Abdi was able to enrol in a free primary education programme, funded by the United Nations.
After shining at his primary school and coming 2nd top of his middle education class, he got a secondary education scholarship to Banadir secondary school in Mogadishu. Here, he finally graduated and returned to his hometown of Barsanguni to teach vulnerable children whose parents are not able to pay their school fees.
Abdi believes that education is the key to success for communities affected by conflict and poverty. “They don’t have everything, but despite all the challenges they are going through, I always inspire them to learn so that they can have a brighter future,” he says.
“I always had a dream to be a role model for young children, to educate them. I teach both boys and girls in my class. They are all active. They have the desire to learn.”
“I wake up every morning because I want a better future for my children, and all the children in Somalia as well. I believe education is the only solution that can get Somalia back on track. So, I will keep going.”
The Integrated Protection Solutions project seeks to reduce the challenges that are impeding the protection and recovery of women and children affected by displacement in Somalia.
To achieve this overarching goal, specialised protection services are combined with assistance packages to help communities become more resilient.
Specific priorities include:
- ensuring displacement-affected children and youth learn in a protective and child-friendly environment
- strengthening and expanding prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and access to protection services for internally displaced people
- consolidating recovery potential for displaced women and youth
A total of 20,204 individuals are being targeted across four hotspot districts in Jubaland (Kismayo) and Somaliland (Buroa, Hargeia, and Erigavo). This project is generously funded by King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief).