NAIROBI, September 5, 2019 — Improving education outcomes of the younger generation is key for enhancing productivity, sustaining economic recovery, boosting inclusive growth and promoting poverty reduction in Somalia, says the 4th edition of the World Bank’s Somalia Economic Update (SEU).
Titled Building Education to Boost Human Capital, the report notes that an estimated three million Somali children remain excluded from schooling opportunities, largely affecting 6-18-year-olds who make up 40 percent of the Somali population. Girls are at a particular disadvantage. Educating Somali girls will not only impact fertility rates but ensure healthier, better educated and more productive families.
“The Somali Federal Government is working tirelessly to achieve the necessary enabling fiscal and economic reforms to raise domestic revenue, grow the economy, finance basic public services and expand the educational and employment opportunities for the Somali people,” said Abdirahman Beileh, Minister of Finance. “Our efforts are bearing fruit and we hope this will be supported in the future with the concessionary resources to invest in the social sector and development after debt cancellation is achieved.”
While the challenges are substantial, there are clear signs of progress, including the rollout of a national curriculum and providing education opportunities in local languages. Affordable mobile connectivity throughout the country also offers opportunities for improved teacher quality and better learning outcomes for students. The report also notes that the fostering of partnerships with communities and the private sector could help to fill the education access gap.
“Somalia is laying the foundations for longer term economic development, but human capital development is essential for growth to be inclusive and sustainable,” said Hugh Riddell, World Bank Country Manager for Somalia. “Attracting more public and private investment into Somalia’s education sector is therefore fundamental to securing poverty reduction in line with the hopes of the new National Development Plan.”
On the overall economic situation in the country, the report notes that progress in realizing economic recovery has been steady and sustained. The Somali economy is estimated to have expanded by 2.8 percent in 2018, compared to 1.4 percent in 2017, following a modest rebound of the agriculture sector from the effects of the 2016/17 drought. Growth of 2.9 percent is forecast for 2019 and projected to expand by 3.2 - 3.5 percent over the medium-term, assuming the current reform momentum continues.
Heightened economic activity combined with reforms in tax policies and tax administration have contributed to domestic revenues increasing by 29 percent in 2018, albeit from a low base. While this progress is encouraging, the available fiscal space remains insufficient to meet expenditure needs education and health sectors.
With the potential to normalize relations with International Financial Institutions, Somalia has an opportunity to drive forward coordinated and sustained efforts to boost education access and teaching quality. The report proposes the establishment of a national education development fund that will ensure adequate education financing across the Federal Member States with incentives to maximize student enrollment. Such efforts are proposed to be complemented by partnerships with non-state sector and communities, as well as the deployment of technology to provide adequate learning support for teachers and students.
“The success of the suggested approaches will depend on the availability of reliable data on the characteristics and performance of students, schools and other management entities,” said Huma Ali Waheed, World Bank Senior Education Specialist. “Above all, success will be contingent on enough and predictable funding at all levels of government with aligned donor funding to support system development.”