Overcoming COVID-19 challenges in Education: Shukri’s story Shukri Habib Saed is a 16-year-old refugee student from an Ethiopian family who lives in Hargeisa. Her family consists of six members: father, mother and four young sisters (all in school). Her father works as a casual labourer at a construction site. Shukri is passionate about becoming a doctor and is currently studying medicine, with a goal to serve vulnerable people.
Shukri says, “From the beginning I had little to say about my education or future ambition, and I could not seriously think about going to school because I was very young and could not settle future goals. But my mother decided that life full of hardships and poverty was not suitable for us and she took me to a school supported by UNCHR/NRC. Thanks to both organizations, no school fees were required, and we were provided with a uniform, textbooks and notebooks. Mother regularly motivated me and my siblings to go far and study, so I absorbed that message and with my efforts, I aim to get higher grades in all my exams''.
Schools were closed due to COVID-19 restrictions between March and July 2020. This meant limited to no formal classroom instruction for students across the country. In the absence of formal learning, Shukri studied at home and spent all her time reading and studying on her own. Shukri mentioned that 2020 was different from previous years in other ways, noting, “This year, I was completing my primary level to secondary school. It is a moment in my academic journey I had been dreaming of for a long time! I wanted to score higher marks than any other student. I spent sleepless nights reading my books and reviewing past exam papers. Also, my target was to join iconic schools like SOS or Amano School, that can provide excellent academics and an opportunity to have more challenging lessons that will boost my talents and academic prosperity. So, the eighth grade national exam was the last test to determine which school I would join. When the result was announced, I was the top leading student in Somaliland, and was selected for Amano Boarding School.”
Shukri said, “The COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on my lessons and classes. Learning was transformed to online and I had no smart phone, computer or internet connection. So, I collaborated with school friends and shared their phones in order to access my classes. With the removal of COVID-19 restrictions in Somaliland, physical classes are slowly re-starting, and I recently started the first class of secondary school.” With the generosity and help of UNCHR and NRC, Shurki’s school tuition fee is covered to enable her studies at Amano secondary school.
Among the many impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the education sector has been hugely affected. Many children, including those living in IDP sites in particular, have been forced to discontinue learning due to the ongoing challenges, such as their parents losing livelihood sources.