(ERGO) – “I’m learning at this age because I want to be able to use mobile money,” 60-year-old central Somali pastoralist Abdullahi Mohamed Ali told Radio Ergo, praising the new literacy classes he is attending in his village.
Abdullahi, who keeps 120 goats in Hinjilabi, a remote part of Galgadud region, is so excited about learning that he is bringing along two of his sons and a daughter, all under the age of 15, to the classes with him.
“I have learnt a lot already. I also want to encourage my children to have education and not to be like me,” he said.
Hinjilabi, an area rich in pasture but without a school, was chosen as one of 15 villages in Adado district to receive free literacy classes being provided by a group of 40 volunteer teachers.
The teachers travel in groups of five to the different villages, spending two days at a time in each place, where they are accommodated by local residents whilst paying their own transport.
Classes are held on Thursdays and Fridays when children do not have Koranic classes. Abdullahi has promised to send his children to town to pursue their education further if they do well.
Hussein Ali Sahal, who is responsible for education at Adado district administration, explained that the adult literacy programme started in late September, following two months of sensitising the communities over the importance of literacy in today’s world.
“We are succeeding in teaching adults, some as old as 60 years, how to read and write for the first time in their lives,” Hussein said. “What motivates most of these people is to be able to use their mobile phones independently.”
Classes are held usually under the shade of a tree, with notebooks, pens and blackboards supplied by the local authority.
The practical advantages of being able to master smart phone transactions have increased as the use of the Somali shilling has declined dramatically across Galmudug state.
Nur Hassan Gedi, a resident of Qansahley, 45 km from Adado, has been running a small eatery for the past two years. His biggest challenge was handling mobile payments, as being illiterate meant he had to rely on others to handle the transactions.
“The way I’d confirm payment was to ask relatives or people I trust to check if all the details are in order. I’ve never had a chance to learn as there was no such opportunity in my area,” he said.