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Educational Gains Mixed for Girls and Boys in Puntland and Somaliland

UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, has reported some good news about education in two areas of Somalia. Puntland and Somaliland are now relatively peaceful and secure, at least compared to central and southern Somalia.

A study found that in Puntland, the share of students in primary education increased from 26 percent to 43 percent over the last five years. A smaller increase was reported in Somaliland. In both cases the gains in school attendance were greater among boys than among girls.

Girls leaving school is a problem across Somalia. For example, only one-third of Somali girls who had completed first grade took the Form Four Exam in the 2011-2012 school year. And girls represent only 28 percent of students in Somali secondary schools. The communications chief for UNICEF in Somalia, Susannah Price, says more schools are being built. She says the agency is developing projects in several fields of education. She also says UNICEF has been working on training teachers and developing nontraditional forms of education.

Some of these programs are for children of families that herd livestock and move from place to place. Susannah Price says education is very important to the future of Somalia. But there are problems in getting parents to send girls to school. The spokeswoman says UNICEF encourages equality between males and females in education. More universal education could help Puntland and Somaliland also improve other areas of development, such as health care.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Laurel Bowman. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 01May2013)

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