Najmo is an eight-year-old girl who lives with her parents in the Hodan district in Mogadishu. She is in first grade at Al Imra School. Surrounded by dangerous mortar fire and lawlessness, Najmo’s parents have been very worried about the family’s safety.
“Many people have been killed and hundreds wounded, most of them civilians in the latest round of fighting whereby thousands fled their homes,” says Najmo’s father. We have nowhere to go…we don’t have enough food…May Allah help us…”
Najmo is among those fortunate few who had been enrolled in school. But since fighting erupted in Mogadishu, all schools were shut down and children were not allowed to go outside. But all was not lost.
Najmo’s family has a radio at home, and they have been able to tune into the Somali Interactive Radio Instruction Program (SIRIP), funded by USAID and conducted by EDC’s International Development Division (IDD).
Najmo previously had listened to the lessons at school, and remembered the broadcasting hours. She made sure the family tuned in every morning. “I like the radio lessons so much because I learnt many lessons without going to school,” she says. “I am happy now, but I truly hate the fighting. I am scared about the bullets…it is not getting stopped.”
The radio program reaches students in Qur’anic and formal classrooms, non-formal basic education centers, refugee camps, or any setting that includes a teacher, some students, and a radio. Instruction focuses on basic reading and mathematics instruction and makes a concerted effort to reach girls. The lessons also teach life skills content such as health, conflict prevention and mediation, and democracy-building. Music, drama, question-and-answer discussions, and other activities are integrated into the instruction, and broadcasts often feature Somali poetry to heighten children’s interest and connect them with their culture’s language and art. Project leaders expect the lessons, delivered through 2008, will ultimately reach 400,000 students in grades 1-6.
“My daughter is all morning busy with the radio programs,” says her mother. “She has great enthusiasm for these radio programs and made us also love the program, I really wondered how fast she memorized the lesson stories and songs. My daughter is intelligent!” she says.
Reaching Beyond the Student
“My daughter asks me questions about her lessons,” says Najmo’s father. “She required us to listen to the radio programs with her every day and answer her questions. We all thank those who prepared these effective radio programs for our kids. In fact these programs don’t only influence the children in class but also their families and the whole community in general. IRI is a great opportunity!”
SIRIP segments are broadcast by EDC five times per week via shortwave radio, and reach Somali populations across the Horn of Africa.
Originally published on September 30, 2006