This month Trócaire celebrated the graduation of 87 young people between the ages of 16 and 30 years, who participated in an EU-funded skills training project in Belet Hawa, Gedo, Somalia.
Trócaire established the new programme in Gedo with the objective of increasing the participation of youth and adults, including those from vulnerable groups, in vocational education and training.
Participants took part in eight-month trainings in the areas of electrical installation, tailoring and beauty in a Trócaire-constructed a technical and vocational education (TVET) centre equipped with classrooms, labs and workshops.
All the trainees were also trained on entrepreneurship and basic computer skills.
There are a large number of marginalised out of school and unemployed young people in the region who do not have access to formal educational opportunities. This is caused by poverty, as well as marginalisation because of gender or clan. 55 percent of participants were female. Women and girls would traditionally not have access to such opportunities due to cultural norms.
I spoke to, Fartuun, a participant in the beauty salon training. Like most girls in her town, Fartuun, left school very young and had to stay at home.
“Before I joined this training course, I was just at home doing house chores like cooking, but now I’m so happy I gained these skills, I can use my own hands to earn a living,” she told me. As part of her training, Fartuun developed her henna design skills and is already earning money providing her services for special occasions such as weddings and Eid. She and a group of women she graduated with now intend to set up a beauty business together.
Another participant, Jeylani Said, has just graduated from the electrical installation programme. Jeylani's family were unable to send him to high school education due to financial constraints.
He said: “I don’t have to leave Somalia, I have hope of using my skills here and getting employment.”
Upon graduating, Jeylani and his fellow electrical installation graduates where offered an internship with the Somali Power and Lighting Company which could potentially lead to long-term employment.
Amina Hashi, a tailoring graduate, told those attending the graduation ceremony: “When I first began the course I didn’t know much, but now I can tell you about all sorts of tailoring machines. I cut and made this dress myself,” she said, presenting an item she made.
Abdifatah Abdi, the Gedo TVET centre manager said the project was much-needed and has bridged the skills gap for unemployed and unskilled youth in Belet Hawa.
He believes that the project also promotes peace in Somalia and the region.
Abdifatah says this project has the potential to transform the community in Belet Hawa, and that the demand for skills training is high. He advocates for the reach of the project to be expanded so that youth with low literacy can be trained following extra tuition to improve their reading and writing skills.
Representatives of the federal government of Somalia present at the graduation ceremony acknowledged the value of the project in Belet Hawa, saying that it was very much aligned to the Ministry of Education’s plan to revive TVET education in Somalia.
The local Member of Parliament of Belet Hawa said he would advocate for policy measures to promote TVET education in Gedo region and would be keen to track the progress of the graduates.
All graduating students received a start-up kit for their respective trades. Tailoring graduates received a sewing machine, clothing materials, and threads among other items. Beauty graduates received a hair dryer, a henna kit, and other salon items. Electrical installation students received a tool box for their line of work.
This project was implemented in close consultation with District Boards comprised of local authority, Community Education Committee of which members are drawn from communities in Gedo region, and the Ministry of Education in Somalia.
The project is part of Trócaire’s wider Education Programme in Gedo which currently supports 4,063 school-going children as well as teachers and support staff at 15 schools in four districts.
Trócaire also focuses on increasing the enrolment and retention of girls at school by providing Girls’ Clubs, which are extracurricular groups that help girls to support each other to address common issues that might otherwise lead to dropping out.