(ERGO) – The Somali government needs to ensure that children from poor families are not excluded from accessing free state-run schools, according to a new report by a Somali think tank.
The Mogadishu-based research centre, Somali Public Agenda, observed that despite commendable efforts by the government to increase school enrolment in schools in Mogadishu, children from the most disadvantaged families remained locked out.
The government runs24 public schools in Mogadishu, with a total enrolment of 16,760 children by January 2019.
The report, Examining public schools in Mogadishu, calls on the government to establish a quota for children from poor and displaced families to ensure that the free schools are not accessed only by children from more affluent families.
“The programme is new and many poor families who do not send their children to school have no information about the existence of free schools,” said Mahad Wasuge, director of Somali Public Agenda.
“We recommend that those to be enrolled in future should include children from poor families including orphans so that these vulnerable children be given a chance.”
The report stresses the need for more awareness-raising initiatives to enable poor and disadvantaged communities to know their rights and therefore be able to access free education provision.
Currently, those enrolled in public schools include 7,601 girls (45 per cent) and 9,159 boys (55 percent).
The report notes that while a standardised government curriculum has been introduced for elementary students, a national curriculum is still lacking at the intermediate level where schools are using either a Kenyan system or other UNESCO-developed curricula.
Teachers in public schools earn better salaries than their counterparts in private schools, with the state paying teachers a monthly salary of $322from the federal government budget and the World Bank.
The report also explores areas such as teacher numbers, school management and challenges towards realising a fully functioning unified education system in the country.
It makes other recommendations including greater investments in school infrastructure, establishing human resource policies to support the welfare and discipline of teachers, and development of a comprehensive teacher training scheme.