An Accelerated Education Program in Somalia Plans to Reach Out-of-School Youth

The Bar ama Baro program targets over 100,000 of out-of-school Somalian children ages 9 to 16.  

By Richard Felty 

August 5, 2021

A new advanced learning curriculum will be introduced in nearly 190 BAB schools when students start in August. Prior to the curriculum’s debut, more than 750 instructors completed a training last month to learn teaching strategies and curriculum for students who may be behind in school.  

One teacher, Muhsin Abdullahi Aden, says that he’s eager that the program is reaching out specifically to students who need support with getting on track.  

“The program is much needed in Somalia as there is large number of out-of-school children due to many circumstances. This program provides educational opportunities to children who desperately need education, and my community is already excited about it,” says Aden.  

More than 750 Somalian instructors completed a Bar ama Baro (Teach or Learn) training to develop new teaching strategies and curriculum for youth who may be behind or attending school for the first time. (Photo By: Alinor Osman)

The Bar ama Baro program (Teach or Learn) is a five-year primary education program that implements accelerated education curricula to bring more than 100,000 Somalian out-of-school children up to speed; many will be attending school for the first time ever.

Out-of-school youth can be years behind students with a traditional educational experience. 

The education program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development supports the government of Somalia’s education efforts by opening accelerated basic education schools, as well as informing instructors about inclusive teaching methods like socioemotional learning and intelligence types such as linguistic, kinesthetic and visual.  

The primary education program targets out-of-school 9 to 16 years old in 188 schools across 11 districts in Somalia and ensures that youth, regardless of marginalization, will be able to access equitable, safe, conflict-sensitive education. 

Bar ama Baro program leaders are working alongside the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Higher Education and other Somalian education leaders to develop the accelerated basic education curriculum, textbooks, teaching guides and other education materials.  

Students who join the program will begin at one of two levels that combine instructional material from two typically separate grade levels. For example, Level 1 students will study subjects that traditionally students learn during Grades 1 and 2. Each level is equivalent to two grades in formal Somalian education.  

Teachers have begun a Bar ama Baro student assessment that will indicate students’ eligibility to enroll into fast-tracked schools and the level that students will start. Classes begin at the end of August. 

Prior to the debut of Bar ama Baro’s inaugural school year, 754 teachers from the 11 districts came together in their respective districts during June and July for a week-long training to master Bar ama Baro’s accelerated basic education material and teaching methodologies that will improve instruction.  

Also, teachers learned new skills about classroom management, preparing lesson plans and evaluating learning outcomes. 

Hani Mustaf Hassan says that the teacher trainings further developed her skillset and allowed her to gain confidence as a woman-instructor as well.  

Bar ama Baro teachers learned new skills about classroom management, preparing lesson plans and evaluating learning outcomes. (Photo By: Alinor Osman)

“I gained a lot of knowledge regarding how to teach the accelerated basic education curriculum effectively and manage classes,” says Hassan. “In Somalia, teaching is often viewed as men’s responsibility and as a result the number of female teachers in the whole country is quite small.”  

She adds that by being a competent instructor it will “in turn lead to more girls attending school” and ultimately by girls being educated, it can contribute to the overall development of our country.” 

About a third of Bar ama Baro teaching staff are either female, from marginalized groups or individuals with disabilities. 

Now instructors have the proper training to support students who are from socially marginalized groups. 

The teacher trainings were led by partners including Formal Education Network for Private SchoolsHimilo Relief and Development Association, Save the Children and Hano Academy. 

All training workshops were designed by Bar ama Baro Senior Reading Advisor, Diyat Abdi. He also trained 30 workshop facilitators from the partner organizations, such as the regional and district Ministries of Education and Ministry of Education, Culture, and Higher Education.  

The 30 facilitators will continue to lead trainings, coach, observe and provide feedback to all 754 teachers throughout the school year. 

Throughout the program, Bar ama Baro facilitators will work with the Somalian government and educational stakeholders to improve curriculum and guide teachers to ensure that children are receiving an equitable, quality education regardless of their classroom experience. 

Aja Beckham contributed to this article. 

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