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Somalia Counters Al Shabaab with New Education Curriculum

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Somalia’s government is implementing a new curriculum for primary and secondary school students, for the first time since the civil war broke out in 1991.
Up to 2 million textbooks printed in Somali have been issued to pupils in most of Somalia since August, the ministry of education said.The new books cover English, Arabic, Somali, maths, Islamic studies, science, physical education, technology, and social studies.”Students have coped well with the new curriculum because it is based on their religion, culture and vernacular,” said Abdul kadir Mohamed Sheikh, a teacher at Banadir Zone School.
Religious education is particularly important, said State Minister of Higher Education and Culture Abdirahman Mohamed Abdulle. The al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgency also regularly launches deadly bomb attacks in Somalia in a bid to impose its own strict version of Islamic law.The government hopes the new textbooks will help counter their message.Clerics helped the government train teachers in Islamic ethics and create a syllabus that “will produce students who are sound, who are free from terror ideology, moderate students who have Islamic knowledge as well as other subjects”, Abdulle said.
However, challenges remain. Only 22% of Somalia’s 30,000 teachers are certified, Abdulle said. “The quality of students depends on the quality of the teachers,” he said.Somalia has one of the world’s lowest enrolment rates, with only four out of 10 children here in school, according to the United Nations. Education accounted for $16 million out of this year’s budget of $344 million.