In July 2011, UN-Habitat completed the construction of 5 permanent primary schools for 2,000 internally displaced children in 5 districts of Mogadishu. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) funded the pilot project, which aimed to improve the living conditions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and contribute to rehabilitating and rebuilding the destroyed public infrastructure in the Somali capital.
The project was realized in collaboration with local district authorities and community representatives, who participated in identifying land on which to construct the schools. In partnership with SAACID, which is responsible for the management of the schools, UNICEF is providing long-term support through school materials and teachers’ stipends.
UN-Habitat and SAACID completed the planning and construction through local construction firms within four months, demonstrating that the key to appropriate local-level project implementation lies in the direct involvement of local communities and district authorities – a planning approach practiced in UN-Habitat’s ongoing Participatory District Rehabilitation in Mogadishu Project.
Enrolment of students
Prior to the opening of the schools and the enrolment of pupils, internally displaced children of primary school age were registered in each of the five target districts. Teachers and headmasters for all five schools were recruited separately through a dual process involving interviews and written exams. District authorities were informed of the recruitment outcomes to ensure the future sustainability, ownership, and security of the five schools.
At present, all schools are fully staffed and operational in all five districts, and there are 936 students enrolled, from Year One (Standard One or Grade One) to Year Four. Meanwhile, the process of registering children is continuing. To ensure that the education remains free for and accessible to all enrolled internally displaced children, the operational costs are partially covered by UNICEF. However, for the long-term sustainability of the schools, local systems of subsidies for public education will have to be established.
On 4 February, a delegation consisting of Somali President Sharif Ahmed, Mayor of Mogadishu Mohamed Nur, the District Commissioner of Shingani, and other officials visited the rehabilitated primary school in Shingani District. The Mayor officially handed over the keys to the school to the President, who handed them over to the Minister of Justice as a symbolic act of ownership.
In light of the Government of Turkey’s rehabilitation programme for Mogadishu, which envisages financing the rehabilitation of 40 schools in 2012, this high-level attention given to UN-Habitat’s IDP school project does not come as a surprise. The Transitional Federal Government’s ambitious and swift reconstruction plans for Mogadishu’s public infrastructure are crucial for assuring wide public support of the government beyond its mandate, which ends in August 2012. UN-Habitat’s quick implementation of new quality infrastructure was perceived as a showcase for the planned wide-scale reconstruction projects in Mogadishu.