Teachers in Somalia celebrated their Teachers Day last week as they continue to struggle to provide education in incredibly difficult conditions. In a statement sent to us by the Somalian National Union of Teachers (SONUT) they emphasise the importance of teachers in a country which has been through the 'long unconsciousness of civil-wars that contributed to the poverty, mass illiteracy and frequent displacement throughout the nation,' and where 78 - 84% of the population live below the poverty line.

Hundreds of schools are closed in rural areas. In its statement SONUT says: 'Often living beyond the reach of government services, rural families are left without clean drinking water, weak village infrastructure and limited access to basic education. However, to address these problems, SONUT Rural Information Resource Centers stated the factors as 1. Teachers in the rural are poorly paid 2. There are no sufficient teaching and learning materials 3. Lack of professional advancement trainings 4. Schools in rural are run by NGOs and are therefore project based (short lived)'

The statement includes pictures of a corrugated iron shed housing 276 pupils in one class and another tented school where there are no teachers at all.

SONUT is also placing a big emphasis this year on the education of girls, who are badly disadvantaged educationally at the moment, being much less likely to access secondary education and more likely to drop out of school altogether. In order to pursue the goal of improving chances for girls the union is also concentrating on empowering woman teachers.

According to a recent World Bank document, 'the goals of teachers’ organizations are not congruent with the goals of . . . education beneficiaries—including students, parents, and employers who need skilled workers.' Just like the teaching unions in Latin America, SONUT gives the lie to this statement. It is teachers and their unions who are struggling in almost impossible conditions to provide education for all children.