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EFA 2000 Indicators 16-18 Adult Literacy
Data is not available to enable the estimation of the literacy rate of 15-24 year olds (Indicator 16), the percentage of the population aged 15+ that is literate (Indicator 17) and the ratio of female to male literacy rates (Indicator 18). With regard to the scarcity of data on adult education UNICEF-Somalia (1998a:8-36) observes: Few data are available concerning the extent of literacy or more general nonformal education for out-of-school youth and adults at present. It is widely believed that little is being done.

Nevertheless, there is evidence that some efforts are being made to address youth and adult education (According to a number of informants, youth and adult education is largely an urban phenomenon. The private sector and civil society (including women's organizations) are the main actors in this sphere.). First, a recent survey on the education of youths aged 14-18 years, based on a sample of 850 in 13 towns, found that 39% were currently or previously participating in a vocational or private course to learn a particular skill (UNICEF-Somalia, 1998b). English was reported to be the most popular subject, with other subjects including sewing/tailoring, computer, metalwork/carpentry and secretarial. Second, both the 1997 and 1998/99 school surveys indicate that some primary schools were being used as centres of adult education. For instance, in the 1998/99 survey, out of 613 school with valid data 155 (25%) indicated involvement in adult education (120 schools), youth activities (29 schools) and vocational training (6 schools). Table 12 shows some estimates of the literacy among the Somalia population aged 15 and above.

Table 12. Percentage Estimates of Literacy Among 15+ Population








UNDP, 1998




UNDP, 1994










The wide variations in the data in Table 12 most likely reflect different definitions of literacy and population databases used by the authors of the documents cited in the last column. Given the problems afflicting Somali society in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it is unlikely that literacy rates for both sexes more than doubled between 1985 and 1992. In spite of the problems of data, Table 12 indicates low literacy rates and a much more disadvantaged position for females, which is reminiscent of the findings on the primary school GER (Indicator 5).


Unlike in countries with national governments, it was not possible for Somalia to undertake the year 2000 EFA assessment using the infrastructure specified in the EFA General Guidelines. Thus, with the assistance of a consultant, SACB-ESC has taken responsibility for the preparation of this report. The task has not been easy. As a consequence of the long period of upheaval that culminated in civil war in 1991 and nearly a decade riddled with unstable governance in many parts of the country, public data that is essential for the planning of development (e.g. demographic and educational data) have not been systematically collected and analysed. Efforts by the international donor community to obtain data and information, such as used as the basis of this report, have partly filled the gap. However, such data and information need to be cautiously interpreted because they have been open to problems of (a) incomplete data sets due to insecurity in many parts of the country; and (b) the probability that for a variety of reasons (including a misconception that data volunteered affect external aid) some of the data collected may reflect only part of the reality on the ground.

Largely because of the foregoing circumstances, several of the indicators of basic education could not be reported on as required by the EFA Technical Guidelines. Affected in this manner are the two indicators on ECD and primary school indicators requiring the age profile of pupils (NIR and NER), repetition, survival rate, achievement and the three indicators of adult education. Further, given the shortcomings of data on Somalia, even where the EFA quantitative framework has been attempted, the findings need to be seen as tentative. Pertinent to this is the omission of Somali nationals studying outside the country - an important part of Somalia's human resource base - in the estimation the primary education GER. With these caveats in mind, the current status and future development of basic education in Somalia is summarised as follows: Some attention is being given to ECD but it is inadequate. This sub-sector needs to be more systematically studied, among other things, to establish how the provision could be developed to benefit all communities, including the rural and nomadic.

Since the civil war, the international donor community in collaboration with communities and emerging governance organs have striven to rehabilitate primary education and develop a foundation for the attainment of EFA. However, there are major problems to be surmounted. The estimated 1998/99 primary education GER of 9% (female 6%) and the high dropout rate highlighted in the discussion on the survival rate indicate the magnitude of the expansion needed if EFA is to be attained early in the 21st century. Koranic schools have the potential to play an enhanced role in expanding primary education, and thus help to move the country towards EFA. Towards this end, there is need for a clear definition of the interface between the Koranic and formal primary school.

. The discussion on Indicators 7 and 8 intimates that, while efforts are being made to establish a locally-based cost and financing infrastructure that should be sustainable in the long run, there are major demand and supply issues that defy easy resolution. The fluidity of the governance system leading to weakness in the collection of public revenue threatens placing too heavy a burden on households in financing education as the proportion of external funding is reduced. This could result in increased inequity in the provision and, combined with perceptions that primary education is not necessarily the only gateway to "success", lead to slowing down the quantitative and qualitative growth of the school system. The remuneration of the teaching force is the most expensive item in the primaryschool unit cost. While taking into account the peculiarities of the situation in Somalia, the discussion on Indicator 11 suggests that the efficiency and effectiveness of the primary school system could be improved through a thorough scrutiny and readjustment of the PTR, PCR and TCR. More thought is needed with regard to the financing of teacher salaries. The financing scheme proposed by Development Solutions for Africa (discussion on Indicators 7 & 8), based on the idea of a partnership between donors and CECs, needs to be reviewed in relation to its basic assumptions and possibility of a longer time span for the implementation of re-balancing contributions from the various sources. EFA includes the provision of quality and relevant education. Without losing sight of on-going efforts to improve the quality and relevance of pupils' learning, the discussion on teachers' qualifications (Indicators 9 and 10) and achievement (Indicator 15) highlight issues and problems that need to be resolved as part of planned progress towards EFA: Future development of the teaching force needs to take into account (a) the low proportion of women teachers that has the effect of depriving pupils, particularly girls, of an adequate number of female role models; (b) current teaching-learning approaches that render pupils passive and are not conducive to the internalisation of what is learnt in formal lessons; and (c) provision of instructional support geared to teacher monitoring and guidance from without the school. For teacher education to translate into quality and relevant learning, on-going and planned efforts on the curriculum and provision of essentials need to culminate in (a) evolution of a truly Somali national primary school curriculum; and (b) provision of adequate physical facilities and instructional materials. Except for a limited intervention by the "Government of Somaliland", currently, there is no system of assessing and certifying pupils' learning above the local level. Plans to develop and implement such a system need to be finalised as a matter of urgency. Somalia needs a better-planned adult education programme. On-going efforts, which are largely urban-oriented and undertaken by civil society and the private sector, should be re-oriented to play a relevant role in the development of the country's human resources. Particularly important is the role that appropriate programmes could play in providing opportunities for educating and training young adults who, because of civil upheaval, have missed out on formal education. For instance, militiamen, who currently live by the gun, need to be equipped with skills, values and attitudes that offer them peaceful and socially responsible alternatives for generating livelihood. To develop the education system towards the attainment of the quantitative and qualitative dimensions of EFA, educational policy-making, planning and implementation in Somalia need to incorporate a number of key strategic stances including: cultivation of ownership and active participation by the Somali people in the educational development effort, inter alia to reduce dependency on either external resources or state provision; actualisation of an effective EMIS (including systematic tracking of Somali children studying outside the country) and the creation of related databases (such as systematic, accurate and detailed census data); cultivation of a culture that embraces the cause and effect paradigm anchored on systematic information as the most successful basis of individual and societal development; definition and appreciation of the relationships (a) between the basic education sub-sector and other sub-sectors (e.g. second and third level education and training); and (b) between the education and training sector and the economy as a whole. Given the serious constraints to social development that have been highlighted in this report, there is a strong case for the international community to give Somalia a more sympathetic ear. It is not realistic to promulgate EFA goals and expect a war-torn society to attain them. It could strongly be argued that, instead of contemplating reduction of assistance to Somali education, the international community ought to be doing more to advance EFA goals in that country.



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