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15 April 2014
Zeynabou Kane

Education under attack: Somalia

Islamic militants recruited large numbers of children from school and abducted girls for forced marriage to fighters. Suicide bombings targeting students took a very heavy toll, and schools and universities were used as military bases for fighting


Since the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in 1991, Somalia has been wracked by a civil conflict marked by widespread abuses against civilians and with devastating effects on education, including the destruction and damage of schools and universities and the closure of education facilities for long periods of time, particularly in the south and central parts of the country. In many areas, only private schools have been operational. As of 2012, an estimated 1.8 million school-age children were out of school in the south-central zones of Somalia.1358 School enrolment rates were among the lowest in the world; the net attendance rate was 18 per cent for boys and 15 per cent for girls at primary school level, and 12 per cent for boys and 8 per cent for girls at secondary level (2007-2011). Only 20 per cent of the population was literate in 2012. The conflict intensified in late 2006, following the overthrow of the Islamist Court Union (ICU) by Ethiopian armed forces. An offshoot of the ICU, an armed Islamist group known as Al-Shabaab slowly began to establish control over Mogadishu and other areas of south and central Somalia. Government forces, backed at different times by Ethiopian, Kenyan and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops, along with government-affiliated militia including the Sufi Islamist group Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a (ASWJ) and more recently the Ras Kamboni clan militia, have been fighting Al-Shabaab. After mid-2011 and especially in 2012, the African Union forces and Ethiopian troops, alongside Somali government forces and allied militia, regained control of a number of towns held by Al-Shabaab in south-central Somalia. However, Al-Shabaab retains authority over large swathes of south-central Somalia, particularly in rural areas of the country.

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