About 20 years ago, the government of Somalia
collapsed, and so did its education system and other social services. There are
a few private schools, including universities, but few can afford the high
tuitions. In the capital, Mogadishu, education has deteriorated even more, with
fighting between rival factions and between the factions and the Ethiopian-backed government. Voice of
America English to Africa Reporter Jamal Ahmed Osman visited some of the
schools in Mogadishu.
Al Hikma School is in southern Mogadishu and
it provides all levels of education under one roof – primary, intermediate, and
secondary. In one class, the students
range from 13 to 25 years old.
Al Hikma is one of about 10 schools in the capital. They set their own curriculum and teach in
English or Arabic. Parents pay about $10.00 tuition per month. Various
NGOs help supply books and teaching materials. But most families cannot afford
the tuition, and their children stay home.
of the schools are Islamic. The boys are
on one side of the class, and the girls are on the other. The students say they
are happy to sit separately.
The students and teachers have problems
continuing their education because of the growing instability in the city. The
school is located near a military base where fighting has sometimes broken out.
Student Mohamed Jama Faisal: "I have been going to this school for six
years. I have never seen such problems. Sometimes wars can happen either on
your way to school or at school and this worries me and my family."
Mohamed's classmates have fled the country, while others have died in the
violence: "This remaining year is like
an endless nightmare. It is even longer
than the five years I have been at this school. Two of my friends died on their
way to this school when [fighting] erupted. [In the last round of fighting] a mortar shell that hit the Mogadishu
University compound killed [one of its professors] Professor Kastro."
Students aren't the only ones who are worried;
teachers are too. Hussain Ilyas Farah is a teacher at Al Kalamschool
in southwestern Mogadishu.
Unarmed security guards are posted at the school, but that has not kept
uniformed students from being arrested. Military
and civilian police officials deny they are behind the attacks. Many parents have withdrawn
their children from school. Farah says: "Neither teachers nor students are safe outside or inside school. Men in
military or police uniforms attack us inside school when they are attacked by
Islamic insurgents. These attacks result in death and injury among students and
A study of Bendadir Province
shows that 35% of Mogadishu's
students were displaced in the violence. More than 30 schools were forced to
close; many others moved to temporary locations. There are about 10 schools
left in the capital.
The Formal Private Education Network in
Somalia is an umbrella group that includes most schools in Mogadishu. Its officials say that over the past two
years the number of students have fallen by half due to the growing insecurity
in the city.
Hussain Farah is the head of the group and says
the Network provides education under unusual circumstances. He hopes things
will improve in the coming years. So
far, there's no evidence it will.
Ethiopia has withdrawn its troops from
Mogadishu, where they supported the transitional federal government. Observers say fighting between it and
opponents will likely increase insecurity in the city until one side decisively