Since the 1991 civil war outbreak in Somalia, many of the social and economic structures that upheld the country fell apart. The education system took one of the hardest hits as many educators and qualified professionals had no choice but to flee the country, stripping educational institutions of their authority figures and leaving schools without any formal education system. The effects of the civil war on education are still active today. According to USAID, there is a shockingly low 40% adult literacy rate, naming Somalia as the third lowest in comparison to the other 10 sub-Saharan countries surrounding it.
So What Does Poverty Have To Do With It?
When researching ways to decrease the poverty levels worldwide or in this instance, in Somalia, it is crucial to understand the individuals who are affected by it. In Somalia, only 30% of children go to school; within that number only 40% are girls. The schools attended are overcrowded and severely lack supplies, with only 22% of the educators being qualified.
By these standards, the quality of education is already way below what is appropriate. The lack of funding for schools and the shortage of educational institutions has left the country’s schooling system between a rock and a hard place. Without money and proper aid, the literacy rates will continue to decrease over time, leaving the inhabitants of the country at the bottom of the educational food chain.
How Can Literacy Improve Poverty Rates?
It is said that if students from poverty-stricken countries are taught to read and write or have at least basic reading skills, 171 million people will have a route out of extreme poverty. Education is the biggest ticket out of poverty.
By promoting literacy in poor countries, there are more opportunities that become available, like new jobs that in turn build the economy. Literacy can also allow individuals to teach and better those around them, strengthening communities while encouraging others to learn to read and write.
Another way that literacy can decrease poverty in Somalia is by promoting democracy and creating peace.
If individuals are unable to read and write most or even all of their information comes from those around them giving them a very limited and sometimes false idea on certain topics. Being literate gives people a chance to explore and cultivate their own opinions and beliefs which is a crucial part of living in a democracy.
What Is Being Done?
The work being done by NGOs is significant in the fight against illiteracy in Somalia. FPENS, which was established in January 1999, is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization. FPENS, the Formal Private Education Network in Somalia, works to eliminate illiteracy in all parts of Somalia. FPENS describes their work as “bold and urgent,” saying that a good education should be accessible to all — especially more vulnerable and marginalized groups in Somalia.
Action for Women and Children Concern (AWCC) is another nonprofit, nongovernmental, non-political Somali organization that also strives to lower the rates of illiteracy. The organization works to empower the public and aid them in reaching their full potential, one of the ways in which they do this is by promoting education for all and building literacy in young children, in hopes of one day completely eradicating illiteracy in Somalia.
– Sumaya Ali