(ERGO) – Ahmed Isack Dahiye, 19, is one of the first students to join the newly opened Imamu-Shafi’I School, the first secondary school in Elwak, on Somalia’s border with Kenya.
Ahmed is delighted to be able to learn close to home. Going to the nearest secondary school in Elwak in Kenya – 15 kilometres away – was not an option for all the children in his large family because of cost.
“I am happy to get an education in my hometown! Three of my elder siblings did not get this opportunity so they dropped the idea of continuing their education, as my parents were unable to send them to other areas for schooling,” he said.
Leyla Mohamed Hared, 16, who completed primary school last year, has also joined the school.
“All the students at this school are happy because we can see a bright future ahead, we are the luckiest ones as the town has got its first secondary school ever. Many years of challenge to get education have passed,” she said.
The school has four classrooms, two toilets and a staffroom and was inaugurated in October.
Ibrahim Hassan Mire, the principal, told Radio Ergo they have enrolled their first 50 students, including 30 girls and 20 boys, in Form One.
Student fees are $8 per month which go towards running costs and paying salaries of the five teachers, who earn $170 per month.
The principal said they had some financial support from a number of local traders now in South Sudan.
Mohamed Adan, the chairperson of the school board, told Radio Ergo that many pupils completing primary school in Elwak had not been able to go on to secondary education. The new school will help many parents save the money they used spend sending their children away for education.
“We are relieved, because if your child completes primary, the first thing that comes into your mind is how will you afford secondary school for your child,” he said.
Sahal Moalim Adan, Elwak deputy district commissioner, said the establishment of the school would play an important role in eradicating illiteracy.
“A generation who spent time getting primary education will be lost if there is no secondary school helping them to continue their education,” he said.