Enhancing access to education in Baidoa

Abdullahi Kerrow, Grade Four students in Sahal Maalim Issa Primary and Intermediary School in Baidoa listening pensively in an English class

Abdullahi Kerrow, a class four pupil at Sahal Maalim Issa Primary and Intermediary School listens attentively to his English teacher. The 13-year old is the first to respond whenever the teacher poses a question. His motivation is driven by a deep-seated aspiration to one day become an English teacher. His classmate, Fartun Adan Ibrahim too aspires to be a teacher. Fartun and Abdullahi are part of a young generation of Somalis whose lives are being transformed through education.

Their school, named after Somalia’s renowned literary icon, Sahal Maalim Issa, is the only one located in Baidoa’s busy Isha neighborhood.

“My children previously walked for long distances to get to school which was not only far away but had too many students than it could accommodate,” says Hassan, a parent who has two children currently attend the school. “Now we have a school that is a few minutes’ walk from my house,” he concluded.

Following a community consultation process facilitated by SSF’s implementing partner, the Danish Demining Group (DDG), the communities in Baidoa prioritized the construction of primary and intermediary schools that would provide the children with a strong educational foundation and facilitate a successful transition to secondary school and university. SSF responded to the community needs through funding the construction of two schools in Baidoa: Sahal Maalim Issa Primary and Intermediary School and Mubarak Primary School. With a total of 902 students, the schools have made access to education much easier.

Since it was opened, Sahal Maalim Issa Primary and Intermediary School saw a rise in student enrollment. “When we first opened in March 2016, it had less than 100 students. Today, we have a total of 538 students, 230 of which are female and 308 are male. The school has 26 staff, 19 of which are teachers,” says Warsame Mohamud, the school’s headteacher.

The school charges affordable fees to cover operational costs. “Each student is charged $2 per month. This money is used to cover operational costs,” explains Warsame.

About 4km from Sahal Maalim Issa Primary and Intermediary School is Mubarak Primary School in Towfiq neighborhood. The school’s student enrollment stands at 364 – 211 boys and 133 girls – and manned by 23 staff members including 17 teachers.

“The lack of enough schools with the ability to offer quality education has had an effect not only on the children and youth but on the social fabric of the society,” says Abdullahi Mohamed, the Minister for Education for Southwest administration. “The lack of education leaves the youth vulnerable to illegal migration and radicalization because they are not educated to a level that they can be absorbed by the competitive job market,” he added.

In order to ensure that the schools continued to serve the Baidoa communities after SSF-funding, the project and the communities connected with Save the Children, who now pay a portion of the teachers’ salaries at these two schools, to support their longer-term sustainability plans.

Schools provide children with the opportunity to dream about their future. Thanks to his continued education in the newly constructed primary and intermediary school, Abdullahi Kerrow’s dream may well become reality; “when I grow up, I will be an English teacher,” says the young Baidoa resident.

Grade Four students in Sahal Maalim Issa Primary and Intermediary School in Baidoa attend an English class