Safi Mohamed Jama, a middle-aged mother and a cleaner at Somaliland’s finance ministry, is determined to change the course of her life and career by learning to read and write.

At the age of 45, Safi has enrolled in the six-month adult education programme recently launched by the Somaliland government. Having grown up in a nomadic family, this is her first chance at education.

“I’ve been meaning to change my lot in life. It bothers me to see my age mates working with computers while I am sweeping the floors! But it’s only now that I have a chance to do something about it,” Safi told Radio Ergo.

As the sole breadwinner in her family of five, she goes to classes after finishing work and doing her household chores. Her aim is to get her literacy certificate in January and apply for a post at the ministry, moving upwards after 16 years as a cleaner earning $45 a month.

“Already I can write my name, I can write you a letter, and wherever I go I read the billboards. I can read mobile messages, I read the newspapers, and I even help the kids with the homework!” she said proudly.

Suad Mohamed Abdi, the director of informal education at Somaliland’s education ministry, said women are a priority in this ambitious new programme. An assessment in June and July showed that a large number of parents, especially women, were illiterate.

Parental illiteracy affects the educational outcomes of children, as parents who cannot read are not able to assist or encourage their children’s learning.

“The programme aims to extend education to every household in Somaliland, to every man and woman, young and old, so that we all take responsibility for our children’s education instead of leaving it to the teacher alone,” Suad explained.

Already 3,700 adult learners enrolled in the programme have learned to read and write. Twenty public schools in Hargeisa are offering the literacy classes in the evenings, timed to encourage the attendance of busy working women.

Eventually, all 392 public schools in cities, towns and villages in Somaliland are to join the programme.

Source: Radio Ergo

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