A European Union-funded programme to support Somali administrations in developing a well-structured education and training system has been launched in north east and north west Somalia.
The Integrated Capacity Development for Somali Education Administrations (ICDSEA) programme is being implemented by the Ministries of Education in Northwest and Northeast Somalia and UNICEF in collaboration with CfBT Education Trust and Africa Educational Trust (AET). If conditions allow, the programme will also be extended to Central-South Somalia.
"Through the programme, the capacity of the Ministries of Education in planning, management and finance will be enhanced as part of the effort to attain the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All initiatives. UNICEF and the EU in collaboration with their partners aim to strengthen the capacities of the administrations in strategic planning, policy development, human resources management, organizational development, financial management, quality assurance and girls' education promotion," said Matthew Olins, Chief of Education at UNICEF Somalia.
During the launch events, education ministers pledged to utilise the resources provided through the programme in an efficient manner and to ensure better quality education is provided to the community.
Dr. Manfred Winnefeld, Technical Advisor for the EU's support for the education sector in Somalia said "The EU is funding the project to the tune of EUR 5,000,000 over three years and this programme will contribute to support quality education for all Somali learners".
In Somalia, education enrolment rates and literacy levels are among the lowest in the world. The total gross enrolment rate (percentage of eligible children in school) is 30.7 per cent with girls at 25 per cent compared to 37 per cent for boys. Girls continue to have difficulty in accessing and remaining in school with only one in five of the small number of girls who start school in grade one completing a full cycle of primary education.
According to the last Primary Education Survey for Somalia for the year 2006 - 2007, there were 465,000 primary school students, 2,083 primary schools and 13,966 teachers, 75 per cent of whom are under- or unqualified, and a quarter having only primary school education.
The EU which is supporting the programme has also been supporting the development of secondary education during the past 10 years. In this time, the number of secondary school students in north east and north west Somalia has risen from 450 students in 1999 to just under 30,000 in 2008.