Friday, May 27, 2016

Photo | Children back in class in Afgoye/Mohamed Abdi/Ergo

(ERGO) – Children are back in the classroom in Afgoye after the Somali government troops forces using their school as a military base were finally pulled out.

Ismail Sheikh Mohamed Yusuf, the school principal, told Radio Ergo the ministry of defence had ordered the troops to leave after four years.

“We repaired, renovated and equipped the school, because the building was badly damaged in the fighting between government troops and Alshabab,” he said.

More than 140 children have registered to join the school and are expected to attend primary and secondary classes from next week.

The school is free for the children of displaced and low income families in the town. Other schools in Afgoye charge children $8 to $15 a month per child.

Osman Mohamed Noor, 18, had his education disrupted when the soldiers took over the school four years ago. “It was 12 noon on Monday 25th May 2012, when the soldiers came in and ordered the teachers and students out. I was in an Arabic lesson,” Osman recalled

As Osman’s parents were unable to afford school fees, he has remained out of the classroom since that day. “I was demoralised somehow, but never lost hope,” he said. He is now enrolled in class seven and dreams of becoming a doctor.

The school has eight teachers, including three women. The NGO Concern Worldwide supports the payment of teachers’ salaries and provision of learning materials and textbooks based on the Somali curriculum.

Fahmo Ahmed Ali, 16, told Radio Ergo she is happy to resume her studies in class five after a four year gap in which she was at home because her parents could not afford the fees at other local schools.

There were 480 children attending the school four years ago. Some were able to continue their education at fee-paying schools in Mogadishu and Afgoye.