International Literacy Day 2021 Celebrated in Somalia

Some participants in the meeting

The International Literacy Day (ILD) 2021 was celebrated colorfully in Mogadishu, Somalia on 8 September 2021. The event was graced by the presence of H.E. Abdullahi Abukar Hajji, Minister of Education, Culture & Higher Education; Prof. Hubert Gijzen, UNESCO Regional Director and Representative for Eastern Africa; Mr. Mohamed Hassan Abbi, Director General/Secretary General of the Somali National Commission for UNESCO; Ms. Colleen Crenwelge, Chargée d’Affaires, US Embassy in Somalia; and Mr. Abdiqani Ahmed Abdullahi Wayel, Member of the Permanent Delegation of Somalia to UNESCO.

Prof. Hubert Gijzen on his part congratulated the government and people of Somalia on the occasion of the ILD and commended the work being done in Somalia to expand education provision in the face of the grim statistics of very low enrolment and a large number of Somali children and youth out of school. “Education is the backbone for any country’s development, and literacy is the basis on which all the other levels of education are built”, he said. Prof Gijzen read out the message of the Director-General of UNESCO, Mrs. Audrey Azoulay in which she quoted the American writer and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass who said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free”. The DG emphasised the tremendous achievement realized over the years stating that “… in 2019 more than 86% of the world’s population knew how to read and write, compared to 68% in 1979.

A panel discussion was held in two sessions highlighting the challenges facing the improvements of literacy in Somalia and the need to mobilise adequate technical and financial support for the promotion of literacy programmes in the country. The sessions were attended by high-level staff of the Ministry, members of academia, civil society and the donor community. H.E. Mohamed Hashi Dhoorre, Minister of Education, Galmudug State of Somalia and Ms. Jaime Oberlander, USAID Somalia were two of the presenters in the panel discussion. The sessions ended with a set of recommendations and way forward for the improvement of the literacy situation in Somalia.  These would be shared as soon as the report on the event is finalized and would inform the strategies and programmes to improve literacy delivery focusing on human-cantered recovery.