Education International
Education International

EI urges Somalia to make schools safe sanctuaries

published 10 October 2008 updated 10 October 2008

With the country in turmoil, the public education system in a state of collapse, and teachers under attack, Education International is deeply concerned that Somali teachers and students are suffering profound violations of their rights on a daily basis.

EI has written to Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein urging his government to take decisive and effective measures to guarantee the provision of education in Somalia.

In the southern and central regions of the country, including the capital, most schools are not operating. Many are simply closed, while others have been turned into army bases and, as such, are subject to being raided. At the same time, teachers are being singled out for harassment and arrest. A number of teachers, school administrators and students have been killed or wounded either at school or on their way to school. Educators and students staged a strike from 2-5 September to protest this deliberate targeting of schools by various groups, including Somali government forces and Ethiopian troops.

Because teachers do not want to let ignorance prevail, some are continuing to give classes even in the midst of gunfire. Despite the many difficulties, local communities have pooled their resources to rebuild schools and send their children to be educated. Many teachers volunteer their services in the classroom while doing other jobs to sustain themselves and their families.

On behalf of the Somalia National Union of Teachers (SNUT), EI has urged the government to make education a priority, and to recognise schools as safe sanctuaries. EI has also requested that the authorities investigate the killing of innocent teachers and students, and bring those found responsible to justice. EI deplores the fact that trade unionists and civil society activists live with constant fear, and has insisted the government guarantee the security of trade union activists. EI is continuing to monitor the situation in Somalia closely.