– Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh knows that his country is in need of an education system that is, “innovative, based on universal principles and values and adaptive of the local realities”.
With a population of less than a million, Djibouti is one of the smallest countries in Africa. However, the number of challenges blocking its way to implementing inclusive education are massive: flood, droughts, landslides and political conflicts.
“In the past two months, we have been hit by a huge flood. Before that, we had repeated droughts. And now we have an invasion of crickets in Djibouti. So, beside the social problems, we have been also facing climatic challenges,” Djibouti’s Minister of Higher Eduction and Scientific Research Nabil Mohamed Ahmed told IPS.
And each of these disasters takes toll on the education system.
Perhaps it is one of the reasons why his country is hosting the third edition of the International Summit on Balanced and Integrated Education, which started Monday, Jan. 27, in the country’s capital Djibouti City. Inaugurating the summit, President Guelleh telling said: “This summit is a step closer to the future we want.”
Djibouti has been making steady progress with regards to its education system, Ahmed said.
It’s been confirmed by the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which found that the number of students accessing high school education increased from less than 10 percent in 2011 to over 80 percent currently.
There has also been a new focus on providing an education that can boost the employability of this Horn of Africa nation’s youth.
“When they can’t find jobs, they are pushed to terrorism,” Ahmed pointed out.
- Djibouti is on high security alert, especially since Al-Shabaab — the Somali-based terror organisation — called for attacks on the country. Though no major attack has taken place since 2014, security concerns still remain very high across the nation, especially the regions bordering Eritrea and Somalia.
Most of Djibouti’s conflict-ridden neighbours in the region — Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan — are not participating in summit.
But Hassan Ali Khayre, the Prime Minister of Somalia — arguably one of the most conflict-ridden nations in Africa today — said that the country has been making a conscious effort to make universal education available to all Somalis, especially girls and women.
According to UNICEF, fewer than 50 percent of Somali girls attend primary school. Low availability of sanitation facilities such as separate toilets for girls, a lack of female teachers, safety concerns and social norms that favour boys’ education are cited as factors inhibiting parents from enrolling their daughters in school.
However, at the summit, Somalia’s government claimed to have taken several measures to improve girls’ education.
“In 2017, we developed a national education policy to provide free universal education from Kindergarten 1. We have also ratified the convention on child rights, so that no child is left out,” Somalia’s Minister of Education Mahdi Mohamed Gulaid said.