(ERGO) – Hundreds of students in Mogadishu primary, middle and secondary schools have been dropping out of their education because their families – mostly farmers and pastoralists – have been financially ruined by the drought.
Ismail Mohamed Abshir, 14, has been staying at home with his grandmother in Deynile district after dropping out of fifth grade in middle school in May. His family could not raise the $12 monthly fees. He missed the national exams in June as he had no books at home to revise.
His grandmother has supported him with meals and a place to sleep although the small money she earns cannot pay for his education.
“I haven’t gone to school for three months and the reason is because my mother used to send me the fees from the rural area. I haven’t paid three months in fees, and as I can’t afford to pay and neither could my grandmother I decided to stay at home,” he said.
Ismail’s younger sister Naima also dropped out of grade three and they both spend most of their time at home.
For the past five years, Ismail and Naima, whose father died, have depended on their mother who kept the family’s livestock in a rural part of Bakool. Their mother used to send them $30 a month to pay the $24 school fees and $6 to buy notebooks and pens.
However, their mother and four younger siblings migrated to a camp in Hudur after losing 50 goats and 20 cows to drought in their village. With only 20 ailing goats left they are forced to live as IDPs.
He noted that many of his school mates in Deynile still attend classes and is he getting worried about his studies and future.
“I would like to continue with my education and become a doctor. I never thought I would drop out of
school but it was God’s plan. My mum told me there were no buyers for her livestock and I should therefore stay at home until they get buyers. I would love to continue my education,” Ismail said.
According to recent research conducted by a local organisation, Aqoonkaab, 432 students have dropped out of schools in Banadir region since January due to failure to pay their fees. This includes 200 students from secondary school, 132 from middle school, and 100 from primary school.
Some of the students have found jobs to support themselves and their drought-hit families.
Ahmed Mohamed Warsame, 20, is working more than 12 hours a day in a cafeteria. He dropped out of school in February, when his father could no longer support his studies. He earns $120 a month and sends half of this to his mother, father, and four siblings who are living in an IDP camp in Balad, Middle Shabelle.
Ahmed said he dropped out when he joined secondary school in February. His father used to send him $25 a month to support his studies while he lived with his aunt in Yaqshid, Mogadishu.
“When the drought hit and the livestock perished, I even lost contact with my father since I didn’t have airtime to call back home, and they couldn’t reach me either. I hadn’t paid four months of my fees and I decided to drop out afterwards,” he said.
He told Radio Ergo their family lost 100 head of livestock including goats and cows in a village outside Balad. Ahmed is now the sole provider for his destitute family, although he still hopes to resume his education if things settle.
The director of Aqoonkaab, Abdinoor Mohamed Adan, said an additional 600 students in Banadir schools were also on the verge of dropping out after their families lost their livestock. He said he hopes the findings of this study will be used in informing the drought response efforts so that education is given consideration proper in the recovery process.