MOGADISHU (AFP) – The Somali authorities are launching Sunday a campaign aimed at getting one million children in the war-torn nation into school, the United Nations' children's agency said.
The Go 2 School initiative is being launched simultaneously in the capital Mogadishu and in Hargeisa and Garowe, the main cities of the autonomous and semi-autonomous northern states of Somaliland and Puntland respectively.
The campaign, which will run for three years "aims to give a quarter of the young people currently out of the education system a chance to learn," Unicef said.
At an estimated total cost of $117 million (89 million euros) for the three-year period, the initiative will include construction and renovations of schools, teacher recruitment and training, technical and vocational training for older children and special programmes for pastoralist communities.
Enrolment rates in the Horn of Africa country, which is struggling to emerge from two decades of civil war, are among the lowest in the world, the agency said, noting that only four out of every ten children are in school.
Many children start primary school much later than the recommended school-entry age of six and many more drop out early.
"Go 2 School is very ambitious, but it is an essential and achievable initiative," said UNICEF Somalia Representative, Sikander Khan. "Education is the key to the future of Somalia -- we have already lost at least two generations. An educated youth is one of the best contributions to maintaining peace and security in Somalia."