Understanding provision of education in emergency contexts: a case study of Somalia

We deployed our Common Social Accountability Platform (CSAP) and Kati-Kati to gather insights on provision of education in Somalia.

How can education in emergency contexts be improved?

Access to education is essential but it remains a big challenge in a protracted crisis environment like Somalia, due to prolonged conflict, climatic shocks and weak governance systems. 

According to the Somalia Education Sector COVID-19 Response Plan, there are approximately 4.9 million school-aged children in Somalia, of whom an estimated 3 million are out of school. The majority of them live in southern and central Somalia. Those living in rural and refugee setups are found to be affected the most. The United Nations projects that a paltry 17%  of them are enrolled in pre-secondary education- mostly in temporary learning institutions managed by non-governmental organisations.

The fragile education system was worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which found the sector already on its knees. COVID-19 disrupted learning across Somalia, forcing the closure of schools from March 18th, 2020 to September, 2020. According to the reports, approximately 814,000 school children were affected by the pandemic, with many feared to have dropped out of school. 

Africa’s Voices partnered with the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) to support the implementation of the Education in Emergencies in Protracted Crisis 2019-2023 programme. AVF implemented its Common Social Accountability Platform that combines radio dialogues and SMS feedback as an effective mechanism for an Education in Emergency (EiE) response that is accountable, inclusive and responsive to citizens’ voice.

AVF and its partner Katikati deployed in tandem two unique approaches:

  • The Common Social Accountability Platform for radio dialogues and SMS feedback 
  • Kati-kati for 1-1 SMS engagement

The aim was to ensure that citizens are meaningfully consulted, and their voice, agency and influence are used to inform education service delivery. AVF’s interactive radio platform allows using a large, inclusive and valued space for consulting citizens to gain a community-level understanding on the barriers to education service provision. Particular focus was paid to the impact of COVID-19 on the quality and accessibility of education services. 

Interactive radio 

AVF in collaboration with MediaInk deployed radio talk shows across a network of seven (7) radio stations in 4 weeks. Different topics related to the education sector in Somalia were covered. Audiences were asked one open ended question each week to which they responded in their own terms and language via toll-free SMS. Participants were asked for consent to use their answer in the analysis and to ask further questions such as gender, age or location.

1-1 conversations 

In parallel to the large scale radio dialogue and SMS feedback, AVF deployed a one-to-one SMS platform called Katikati (meaning ‘in-between’ in Swahili) aimed at opening up private two-way conversations that helped to delve deeper into personal stories from specific groups such as caregivers, teachers, students and school dropouts.


  • Total messages received – 28,121

  • Total participants – 6,585

  • Participants who consented to be included in analysis – 5,848

  • Participants who participated in the 1-1 conversations – 35

Key Findings 

  • Education is valued and described as ‘light’ for society. Many participants reported satisfaction with schools but many also reported issues related to the poor quality of education, affordability and access.  
  • Many of the challenges related to quality and unaffordability are exacerbated by the privatisation of schools. Participants complain not only about the high costs but there is also a view that in some cases the schools engage with parents only for the purpose of fee payments and that there is no government monitoring or schools accountability. 
  • There are clear demands, especially from displaced populations but not exclusively, for free education and support for those most vulnerable. 
  • There is a view that teachers are not qualified to deliver good quality education, especially in light of the changes in the school curriculum which teachers are seen as not prepared for. Teachers themselves raised the importance of being supported through training, adequate salaries, and recognition to help cope with classroom needs and enhance teacher well-being and job security. 
  • There is a demand for teaching to be done in vernacular Somali language.
  • The need for peace and security is also mentioned by participants, which reinforces the evidence that conflict and the humanitarian context have an impact on the extent to which Somalis in Banadir can access education. In addition, tensions between clans disrupt harmony in schools. There are also demands for teachers not to be selected based on the 4.5 clan system.
  • The lack of job prospects discourages many from seeking education. In the case of girls, this discouragement is compounded with security risks and cultural norms that do not value girls’ education and that place the role of women in the household. 
  • Participants largely ask for awareness and advocacy, especially on education for girls. Examples of encouraging teachers and the importance of family awareness appeared to be critical motivators for continued learning.
  • Participants in Banadir asked for support and encouragement from authorities, which are called to adequately inspect and monitor schools and to provide adequate resources and training for teachers.
  • While COVID-19 caused only temporary school closures, issues around lack of appropriate support, infrastructure, and monitoring appear to have prevented schools from being prepared to respond to new emergencies. This has led to teachers not receiving salaries during school closures, and students returning to schools which lack appropriate facilities to reduce transmission risks.
  • The study was also able to shed light on conflicting values and importance paid to formal schooling vs. Quranic schools. Both are seen as equally important for many and some participants explained how Quranic education is prioritised in some cases or intertwined with formal education, causing drop-outs and delays.


The provision of affordable, suitable and accessible education in Somalia, remains important to communities in Banadir.. Efforts to support education in the emergency crisis, to ensure access to and quality education calls for collaboration among all stakeholders including the communities. 

The deployment of the interactive radio methodology alongside the use of Kati-kati for more in-depth 1-1 conversations has helped to shed light on important issues and areas of prioritisation for supporting education in Banadir. Affordability and lack of accountability and monitoring are key. In addition, the many barriers and obstacles appear even more insurmountable for displaced communities and girls.

The findings demonstrated the long-term impacts of conflict and instability on access to education in Mogadishu, but also show pathways for change. Future actions and policies can harness these pathways suggested by participants to improve access and quality of education in Banadir. 

Education in Emergencies in Protracted Crisis 2019-2023

Understanding Provision of Education in Emergency Contexts: A case study of Somalia



The challenge of education in our area is that we don’t have schools, we don’t have administrations, teachers and curriculum. The community was affected by COVID19. Even though most of the people in the community have only had limited training and they can not afford the costs of school fees and they don’t have cars that can transport their childrens to school”

Commenting on provision of education in Somalia.