Photo taken on Sept. 8, 2018 shows children listening stories at Alternative Basic Education (ABE) School at Hafata camp for the displaced located in Baidoa, Somalia. Story telling tents supported by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) have motivated Somalia children to pursue formal education with passion despite setbacks linked to civil strife, poverty and natural calamities. (Xinhua/Wang Teng)
by Christine Lagat, Wang Teng
NAIROBI, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- Story telling tents supported by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) have motivated Somalia children to pursue formal education with passion despite setbacks linked to civil strife, poverty and natural calamities.
Sixty Somalia children attended a story telling tent that UNICEF brought to Alternative Basic Education (ABE) School at Hafata camp for the displaced located in Baidoa, the capital of south western state of Somalia.
The story telling tent that was organized on September 8 and featured song, drama and poetry sought to extol the transformative power of education to children.
Mohamed Abukar Abdi, the minister for education in south west state of Somalia and Jesper Moller, the Deputy Representative, UNICEF Somalia country officer, attended the event that focused on the use of indigenous folklore to encourage children to pursue formal education.
Abdi said in his speech Somalia and its bilateral partners have joined hands to explore innovative ways to boost child literacy in a country where the number of school going children is below the global average.
Moller said that UNICEF supported children's story telling tent seeks to harness the power of songs, dance and poetry to amplify the importance of education to Somali youngsters.
"We at UNICEF decided to promote the craft and love of storytelling because stories make learning easy and fun, and they also hold a special place in Somali people's oral tradition," said Moller.
He noted that story-telling combined with performing arts always sparks imagination and curiosity among young learners while boosting their cognitive development.
As Somalia joined the rest of the world to mark this year's World Literacy Day whose theme was "Literacy and Skills Development", the country's educationists hailed the story telling forum, terming it a milestone in efforts to boost children's literacy.
"This event is so fantastic. We never had something like this before. The children were all excited and took part with great enthusiasm. I have never seen such participation from them," said Rahmo Alimiris, Head teacher.
Beaming faces of children and adolescents who attended the storytelling tent at the ABE School in Hafata camp for the displaced reaffirmed their determination to become future scholars.
"Back in my village there were no schools, so I had never been to one. I looked after the animals all day. I don't want to go back. I want to stay here so that I complete my education," said 14 years old Sofia Abdullahi.
"When I grow up, I want to be a teacher to teach children, such as those back in the village," she added.
Shukri Maalim, an 11 years old pupil was excited after participating in the Story telling tent that showcased the best of Somalia folktales to promote childhood literacy.
"I love stories, especially Somali folktales. There were no schools in my village. I came here to live with my grandmother so that I can go to school. I want to be a teacher because it is a respected profession in my community," said Maalim.