Learning literacy: 'Now I can read my own letters'
We are working in partnership with the Africa Educational Trust and the BBC Somali Service to deliver weekly radio programmes and face-to-face tutorials to improve literacy and numeracy skills in Somalia.
The radio programmes have so far reached 250,000 Somali speakers and almost 30,000 children and adults with no access to formal education have graduated with certificates from the face-to-face tutorials.
Start date: 2004
End date: 2008
Media Types: Radio
Now when I want to send a letter I can say anything – no-one knows but me
Fifty, 30-minute educational radio programmes have been produced and broadcast to teach reading, writing and arithmetic to adults in Somalia. Series three of the programme is now in production.
The programme sought to reach people who had been denied a conventional education, including:
- Women and girls
- Disabled people
- Children with no access to education in rural areas
- People in southern Somalia (where there are few educational opportunities)
- People who have had to flee their homes because of the conflict
"Now when I get a letter from my friends or family, I can read it. Previously, I had to ask someone to read it for me. Now when I want to send a letter I can say anything - no-one knows but me. Before, the person who wrote the letter would tell everyone and every neighbour would know my private things, but I didn't have any choice..."
Mahamed, age 18, Burao
The radio programmes were supplemented with face-to-face classes run by volunteer teachers.
A team of Somali and European specialists in distance education, radio broadcasting and basic literacy produced the curriculum, courses and teaching materials used in the classes.
Reading and writing is taught through the discussion of key themes including health, human rights and the environment.
Teachers taped radio broadcasts, enabling classes to be run at times that were convenient for the students. This proved particularly important for women and girls, who are often expected to do household chores during conventional school hours.
"The classes are good for older people like me who missed out on education. They're good because there are no younger people in the class to make fun of me. I used to be very shy, thinking 'I can't sit next to a young child in class when I am this old'
Mahamed, age 25, Berbera
In June 2006, researchers were commissioned to evaluate the impact of series one and two of the programme in Somaliland, Puntland and south Somalia. Focus groups and interviews were held with 125 learners and 39 teachers.
Interviews were also held with local authorities, social workers, community elders and representatives from other education-focused NGOs.
- The educational radio programmes reached more than 250,000 Somali speakers
- 29,000 students enrolled in face-to-face classes - more than 90% passed the course examination and graduated with a certificate from African Education Trust
- 65% of students who enrolled in the tutorials were women and girls
The African Educational Trust operates in regions of Africa where there are either no formal structures for education, or they have been broken down by conflict and civil war. It works closely with local communities to provide access to school materials and tuition.
Thanks to the BBC World Service, we have unique access to audiences across this divided country and can reach nine out of ten adult Somalis with our radio programmes.
Supplementary reading booklets produced as part of the literacy programme were purchased by international non-governmental organisations including: Care International, Save the Children Fund and the Danish Refugee Council.