Somali children back to school

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Primary schools record an increase in enrolment after al-Shabaab fighters were forced out of much of Mogadishu in August last year, allowing for some semblance of normality to return to the capital's residents.

Many children returned to school after more than 20 years of clashes between Islamist militias and armed groups and government forces in Somalia. The city's capital Mogadishu Primary schools witnessed an increase in enrolment following the exile of al-Shabaab fighters.

For over two decades, attending school in Mogadishu was dangerous for children of all ages. The violence and disorder has left many generations of Somali children with little or no education.

Many businesses and schools have begun to function once more since the African Union (AU) forced the al-Shabaab militant Islamist group to withdraw its fighters out of Mogadishu.

Figures released by the Somali ministry of education show that primary school enrolment increased by 68 percent following the withdrawal.

Officials say class benches which are made to seat three students are now seating five.

Some older students share class curriculum with students three to four years younger. However, many of them say they are just happy to be receiving an education.

"What I am expecting is a better future after returning to my former school. All I want to get is an education," said Isse Ahmed Abdalla, a grade 7 student.

"Day after day children are coming to school for registration and classes are getting crowded because people recognize that the only way they can help their children survive is to get them an education," said Ali Osman Ali, headmaster at al-Najah primary and secondary school in Mogadishu.

Education Minister Aideed Ibrahim said that parents and guardians feel more confident about sending children to school this year.

"After the security improved, children are getting the opportunity to go back to school peacefully. This is why the classes have become overcrowded in the last five months," he said.

Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world but is a rare example of how an economy can still function -- but not flourish -- without a national government.

The country's turmoil has left one in four Somalis either a refugee or internally displaced.

A 2011 U.N. report found that only 30 percent of children aged 5 to 17 were enrolled in school in southern Somalia; a total of about 1.8 million children were out of school.

By: Nadia Mayen
Al Arabiya with Agencies

Channel: Somali Videos

Related tags: Al Arabiya , English , Somalia , Somali , Children , Education , School , Elementary , Primary , Clashes , Al Shabab , Islamist , Militant , Group , Mogadishu , Nadia Mayen, ,