Human Capital Investment in Somalia

Somalia is one of the 10 poorest countries in the world. UNICEF estimates that 43 percent of the Somali population live on less than a dollar a day, while around half of the labor force is unemployed. Social unrest caused by a long civil warcoupled with weak institutions have contributed to devastatingly high levels of poverty in the region. One especially prominent effect of this has been the incredibly weak education system in Somalia. Only half of the Somali population is literate and in 2016, only 32 percent of Somali children were enrolled in school. This has undermined much of the government’s attempts to build successful anti-poverty initiatives, as economic development requires substantial improvements in the human capital development of Somalia.

Partnership with the World Bank

Somalia had previously been unable to attain a partnership with the World Bank, due to high levels of debt carrying over from previous World Bank loans. However, the ambitious economic reforms of the new Somali government which was established in 2012, offer hope for improvement, culminating in the new Country Partnership Framework established by the World Bank in 2018. The World Bank has dedicated its resources to aiding the Somali government in developing stronger institutions and economic growth, in line with the government’s National Development plan. As a result of the new partnership, the World Bank now accounts for 15 percent of total financing (around $28.5 million) for Technical and Vocational Education and Training programs in Somalia.

Human Capital Investments

These investments play a significant role in human capital development, as they offer an opportunity for Somalia to diversify its economy and offer the potential for granting individuals access to sustainable long-term income. This is especially true of the role that education plays, as creating a more educated population can be vital to ensuring continued economic growth, reducing the overall reliance on foreign aid. Improvements in human capital have the potential for massive returns. The World Bank estimates that human capital growth can produce a 10 to 30 percent increase in per-capita GDP, providing economic resilience, as well as developing the tools necessary to help lift a country out of poverty. 

Such programs can play a vital role in improving employer confidence and organizing effective human capital advances. While many other reforms may contribute to economic growth, it is important to note that since the World Bank began the partnership in 2018, the country’s GDP has grown by 0.7 percent.

Overall, by securing this partnership with the World Bank, Somalia is working toward major educational reforms to boost human capital development for this and future generations.

– Alexander Sherman
Photo: Flickr

Qatar Charity, an NGO devoted to aiding in the development of struggling communities, recently opened up a model primary school in Somalia as part of its initiative to combat illiteracy in the region. It contains eight classrooms and is expected to take in approximately 350 students aged six to 11 from the surrounding area, a significant contribution to primary education development in Central-Southern Somalia.

The school is located in Hudur, a small town in the Bakool region located just before the Ethiopian border. This area needs as much support as it can get, as it is severely lacking in access to educational services. UNICEF reports that as of 2017, only 22.1 percent of children are enrolled in school in the Central-South region of Somalia, compared to a nationwide enrollment rate of 32 percent.

One factor behind the deficiency of primary education development in Central-Southern Somalia is the persistence of drought in the region. When the land dries up, crops are incredibly difficult to grow and most livestock does not survive. When no one in the community can farm, food becomes scarce and avoiding starvation takes priority over all else. As a result, many families pull their children out of school to search for water and food or try and maintain whatever crops or livestock they have left.

Another contributor to this issue is the violence that has been ravaging Somalia for decades. Since the outbreak of civil war in the late 1980s, 75 percent of the public schools in the Central-South region have been destroyed or shut down. In recent years the rise of the terrorist organization Al Shabaab has perpetuated this problem. When fighting erupts, it becomes unsafe for children to go to school every day. In October of 2017 alone, more than 3,800 children were affected by the closure of schools in the Central-South region due to armed conflict.

Providing humanitarian assistance to alleviate these crises and get more children into school is a crucial step in eradicating global poverty. Studies show that higher literacy rates almost always lead to an increased standard of living. When people have more money, they are more likely to spend that money in their local economies, which results in even less poverty.

With this in mind, devoting more attention and resources to primary education development in Central-Southern Somalia seems like a no-brainer. Educating citizens decreases Somalia’s reliance on U.S. foreign aid, providing incentive for the U.S. to help Somalians. Hopefully, the U.S. will follow in the footsteps of Qatar Charity and help give Somali children a chance to learn.

– Maddi Roy

Photo: Flickr

Education in Somalia
In the coastal African country of Somalia, a long history of famine and war has made it difficult for the school system to flourish. Civil conflict, an underdeveloped government and natural disasters have all served to stunt the growth of education in Somalia.

But hope is not lost—both government and nonprofit organizations are developing methods to increase access to quality schools. Below are eight facts about the country’s education system and current efforts to improve the landscape.

  1. Few children have the opportunity to attend school in Somalia, with a 30 percent average primary school enrollment rate that dips to 18 percent in secluded regions. Due to severe poverty and the nomadic culture that pervades more than half of the population, sending children to traditional schools is impractical and impossible for many families.
  2. Vast gender disparity also plagues the education system. Less than half of all Somali students are girls, and just one-quarter of women between 15 and 24 are literate, versus 37.8 percent of men.
  3. Ninety-eight percent of Somali girls undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) at some point in their lives, 80 percent between ages five and nine. Girls who attend school, though, are less likely to face the procedure.
  4. Recognizing this correlation, Somali activist Hawa Aden Mohamed established the Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development (GECPD) in the 1990s to create increased access to education in Somalia, especially for girls. The organization has since provided primary schooling to 800 girls and an “un-formal” education to 1,600 adolescent women.
  5. Education itself works as an agent to prevent girls from experiencing FGM. In addition, the GECPD teaches its students about the dangers of FGM and encourages them to break the cycle within their own families, as nearly two-thirds of Somali women and girls approve of the practice of FGM.
  6. Thanks to the GECPD’s work, the girls’ school enrollment rate has risen to 40 percent in the northeast region of the country, while the national average is just 24.6 percent.
  7. Raising these numbers is vital, as 70 percent of the population is under 30 years old. In addition, youth unemployment swells at 67 percent. With a better education system and ample opportunities for both boys and girls, Somalia stands a great chance of breaking the cycle of poverty and building a successful economy.
  8. Earlier this year, an education summit was held in Garowe, where The Ministry of Education in Puntland discussed education policy and curriculum with the federal government. Federal Minister of Education Abdirahman Dahir Osman announced that committees will begin working on issues within the education system and that Egypt has contributed funding to the cause. The involved organizations will soon release more information on the summit’s conclusions.

While the current circumstances may look bleak, the future holds a wealth of possibilities. With the continued support of the government and organizations such as the GECPD, education in Somalia is on track to turn around.

Madeline Forwerck

Photo: Flickr