Female teachers help Somali girls to return to school after marriage

The posting of female teachers to schools and universities in Kismayo in southern Somalia is helping to encourage girls who dropped out of school to return to the classroom, even after leaving to get married.

Ten married female students resumed their education recently following counselling and mentoring by female teachers to cope with teasing or bullying they commonly suffer from other students.

Among them is Naima Mohamed Ali, who quit school in 2014to get married. She decided to resume her education late last year.

She says she is comfortable now with the school and plans to pursue her ambition to become a doctor.

The female teacher at the school helped her find the courage to continue education despite still facing some challenges.

“I was so desperate and felt shy when I came back to school because you see students chatting about your affairs, especially when you are married,” she said.

Ifrah Nur Omar is among the 20 female teachers recently posted by the authorities to10 schools and two universities in Kismayo.

Ifrah teaches social studies at Jubba Primary and Secondary school. She had worked with 10 female students to counsel them about the importance of their education and enable them to face going back.

Among them were six who had left school to get married.

“I sat with them and discussed the challenges and the ways to overcome them. There were 15 girls, including five who had not quit school but were facing challenges,” Ifrah said.

“The girls have now found the courage to meet the challenges and are ready to share their problems with us so that we approach those challenges together,” she stated.

Ifrah has been working with the school administration to support girls in their education.

JubbalandStateeducation ministry organised a special two-year training course for teachers like Ifrah to enable them to take up these roles, according to the director of the ministry, Ahmed Farah Ali.

“Before the training, we had only one female teacher in the town, but thankfully now the situation is changing positively,” Ahmed explained.

He said the ministry is committed to increasing the number of female teachers further.

The salaries of the teachers ranging from $100 to $200 are paid by their respective schools.

Abdi Ismail, principal of Jubba School, commended the contribution of the new female teachers saying their efforts have contributed to raising the school performance of girls.

“For the first time, we have witnessed many girls scoring above average marks. In the primary, the girls have started hitting 600 marks, whereas before the highest score for a girl was around 400 marks out of 1,000. In secondary, girls perform very well, with those at the top scoring 980 marks out of 1,000,” the principal said.

Sahro Ibrahim Matan has been posted as a university lecturer in Kismayo.

She feels the shortage of female teachers will soon come to an end and this will help female students. As a public health graduate from Jubba University, she is now teaching the same course.

“I think we have solved many problems. For example, female students may not face male teachers to ask question or to speak about any other things related to personal issues,” she explained.

Parents of female students have also expressed their appreciation of the role of the new female teachers. One mother said she felt the female teacher was also her role model and she had full confidence in her.