As the situation in Somalia continues to worsen, there is concern about whether the country’s children will still be able to attend school amid the crisis.
“Education is a critical component of any emergency response,” UNICEF Somalia Representative Rozanne Chorlton said in a statement. “Schools can provide a place for children to come to learn, as well as access to health care and other vital services. Providing learning opportunities in safe environments is critical to a child’s survival and development and for the longer term stability and growth of the country.”
School is scheduled to begin in September in Somalia, however, due to famine-related displacement of both teachers and children, the UN warns that this school year may not happen.
Caught in what has been called the world's "worst humanitarian disaster," some 200,000 school age children in Somalia have fled their homes with their families in search of food. Even before the drought and famine arrived, Somalia had a school enrollment rate of only around 30 percent. Now, the U.N. says that an emergency $20 million are needed for the country to have a chance at even maintaining that 30 percent.
The money would provide education plans for up to 435,000 children and provide incentives for teachers to teach in temporary learning facilities. Food vouchers will also be provided to students and their families, including adults who are enrolling in school for the first time.
But donors are already having trouble delivering direct famine-related aid on schedule and as the education of 1.8 million Somali children hangs in the balance, some worry about the future of the country.
"[These children] will grow to nothing and will be a further burden to society if education is never made part of the humanitarian effort," Burhan Mohamed, a drought victim and former teacher, told IPS. "Saving lives should always be a priority but educating the children and even the adults will go a long way in preventing a similar crisis in the future.”
(Photo: AP Photo/Jerome Delay)