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Somaliland initiates TV and Radio education programmes to aid learning as schools shut down

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

HARGEISA, Somaliland - Somaliland has partnered with UNICEF to air learning programmes on both radio and TV, officials confirmed, a move geared towards helping learning shape their skills amid Coronavirus outbreak.

All schools were closed down as a precautionary measure to combat the spreading of the virus, a move that has temporarily affected learning in the secessionist state of Somalia in the north. So far, five positive COVID-19 cases have been recorded.

The Ministry of Education and Science partnered with UNICEF to enhance learning on broadcast media, which is widely popular across the globe. The programme will be run without payment from the community, officials said.

“I didn’t know it was possible to continue the lessons at home. This teaches us new ways of learning,” said Ismail Omer, a grade 8 student from Berbera, Somaliland, enthusiastically.

“Even though we, as parents, need to spend time guiding our children and making sure they tune in on time, it’s great that they can continue learning at home,” explained his mother, Halimo Omer. “When our children stay at home, we do not need to worry about them contracting the [COVID-19] disease."

Ismail is one of the school children benefitting from the free radio and TV lessons the Ministry of Education and Science of Somaliland, with the support of UNICEF and partners, started providing after the schools closed at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are so happy we could continue providing lessons, and that students are receiving their lessons at their homes despite the COVID-19 challenges," said the Director-General of the Ministry of Education and Science of Somaliland.

The programme focuses on grade 8 and 12 students, giving them an opportunity to continue preparing for national exams at the beginning of June to ensure a successful transition to secondary or tertiary education.

E-learning is one of the technology poorly used in Africa due to insufficient ICT infrastructure. Thousands of schools have closed worldwide due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has since infected over 2.2 million people.

“We are so happy we could continue providing lessons, and that students are receiving their lessons at their homes despite the COVID-19 challenges," the official said, expressing his joy to be able to support children to continue their education remotely.

More lessons for all grades are underway and will be broadcasted during the coming weeks and months to ensure as many children as possible remain safe and are able to continue learning. The goal is to reach 250,000 children through radio and TV lessons, UNICEF added.

This represents most of the children that were enrolled in school in Somaliland prior to the outbreak. The remaining children are expected to access online lessons provided by their schools.

UNICEF Somalia’s experience in this field, including supporting the provision of Education in Emergencies, is critical and highly valued by the local authorities and beneficiaries and it will continue supporting the state Ministry’s efforts, both technically and financially.

Somaliland declared its self-independence in 1991 after a deadly civil war in Somalia which left thousands dead and millions displaced. But despite that, the international community is yet to fully recognize it as a bonafide republic.

In recent weeks, there have been growing undertones for talks with Mogadishu. Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo held brief talks with Muse Bihi, the Somaliland leader in Addis Ababa, a shock meeting which was brokered by Abiy Ahmed.

On Friday, Somalia, which suspended all learning activities, recorded a total of 116 COVID-19 infections, including the five cases from Somaliland. Six people have since died with the Horn of Africa nation recording only two recoveries.