Children’s voices are rarely heard in the humanitarian crisis in Somalia. Globally, Somalia scores the highest on the INFORM Global Risk Index due to long-standing political instability, armed conflict, environmental stress and weak governance structures. Between January and August 2019 alone, 270,000 people were displaced across Somalia of which an estimated 108.000 (40%) are school-aged children.
Despite political progress and ongoing efforts to strengthen government institutions, the Ministry of Education (MoE) continuesto lack the capacity to deliver basic education services for IDPs, children living in areas with ongoing conflict and other groups living under the most challenging circumstances. Somalia has about 4.5 million school-aged children and of these, 35% of girls and 41% of boys are enrolled in school across Somalia. This means about 3 million school-aged children are out of school.
The crisis in Somalia exposes children (displaced and non-displaced) to various threats. The Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict 2019 states that in 2018, 2,300 children (including 72 girls) in Somalia were recruited and/or used mainly by non-state armed groups, that 331 children (including 328 girls) reported sexual violence and 1,609 children (including 130 girls) were abducted. In addition, 781 boys and 260 girls were killed and maimed.
Due to the volatile and insecure context of Somalia, many children who do access education have experienced various forms of trauma. Teachers are rarely equipped to identify children showing signs of trauma and are therefore not able to support the children appropriately. In a context like Somalia where teachers are under qualified, classrooms are overcrowded, and materials and facilities are scarce, teachers are often using verbal or physical punishment of children to maintain control of the classroom. This behavior affects children negatively and hampers their learning outcome and well-being. According to a Child Protection Rapid Assessment (CPRA) conducted in Puntland, Somaliland and Banadir6 , 57% of head teachers acknowledge that corporal punishment is being used in their school in managing children’s behavior. The CPRA further found that peer to peer abuse is prevalent in schools with bullying being identified as a protection concern that happens in their schools by 60% of head teachers interviewed. Unequal ratios of boys and girls in the class or a mix of older and younger children in the same class might exacerbate these situations leading to additional psychosocial stress of already traumatized children.
To better understand what school children need and want, and to enhance the accountability of the Education actors to the children they are targeting, it is crucial to ensure the voices of the children are being collected and heard.