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Hawa Jamaac Liban, Headteacher at Baadweyn Girls Primary School checking the attendance book of her students.

As she attends to customers in her
 retail shop, Hawa Jamaac Liban is
 content that she has realized her 
lifetime dream and at least made her
 contribution to society. Even
though she no longer teaches, most of
her customers -some of whom are her
former students- refer to her as teacher
 in her current occupation. She has
been working hard to realize her 
lifetime dream. Seeing some of the over 800 girls who grew under her care mature into
 young professionals capable of taking up the baton from her gives her satisfaction that
she made it.

The 53 year old was a long-serving Headteacher at Baadweyn Girls Primary School -
one of the 8 women education centers established by Galkayo Education Center for
Peace and Development (GECPD) in Mudug region of Somalia. She served at the
 center for over 13 years both as a teacher and later on headteacher. In 1991, she had 
just completed her Secondary School Education in the capital Mogadishu. She was
 volunteering as a teacher at Hajji Hussein Diirle School in Mogadishu, hoping to join the
 then prestigious Lafoole Teacher Training Institute to become an accomplished teacher.
But then that dream was never to be realized as Somali descended into civil war, with
 anarchy reigning high, institutions looted, destroyed and hundreds were displaced.

Hawa Jama, along-side with her fellow teachers and some of the students’ posing for a photo group.

As everybody retreated to their ancestral lands in the aftermath of the heightened war, 
Hawa was to return to the native village of her forefathers in Baadweyn- the Somali for a
vast area of hot desert sand. A place she had only heard about but never been to. It is
here that she had to restart her life with no means or opportunities to do so. “There was
nothing. There were no schools, no hospitals or any form of services in the village at
this time. Only a few houses”, she recalls.
When GECPD started providing Integrated Literacy and Numeracy programs for women
 and girls in this town in 2001 with the support of Oxfam Novib, Hawa was among the 
women selected to help in running the program. After intensive capacity building 
training, she served both as a teacher and community mobilizer towards female
 education. “It was a great opportunity not just for me but the entire female fraternity in
this village town. They had no access at all to education,” she says.

Although she missed the opportunity to
join a teacher training college, Hawa is
glad that her knowledge and experience
 in teaching has increased with each
passing year. This is a result of the
 annual teacher capacity building 
trainings organized by GECPD with the
support of its education program back
donors. “I have gained a lot from the 
trainings. I can lesson plan, I can make
 schemes of work. I understand well issues affecting girls’ education and have acquired 
management skills through these trainings.” She asserts.
This helped her grow through 
the ranks to become the headteacher before choosing to call it a day due to pressing 
family challenges.
Hawa is utterly grateful to organizations that have supported GECPD programs such as 
Oxfam Novib, Diakonia and Spazio Solidale among others. It is not because she is able
 to earn and provide for her family but because she has witnessed gradual growth of the 
GECPD Education program and increased access to education for women and girls due 
to their support. “A lot has changed since the program started. At the beginning, the
 program was offered in one rented room.

Hawa Jama, Marking homework for one of her students.

Today the town has 2 full-fledged
 centers/schools specifically offering education to women and girls.” She says. Besides
 the infrastructure growth, Hawa says the number of girls enrolled in education has
 gradually increased not just in the GECPD run school but other 3 schools that have
 since opened in the town. She attributes this trend to sustained awareness creation, advocacy and community mobilization conducted by the Community Education
 Committee of the school. “At the beginning, people did not see reason why resources
 should be spent to educate a girl. Today the community has understood the importance 
of education.” She says with satisfaction.
But despite the success, Hawa still 
feels there is still much more to be
done in enhancing access to education
 for girls and women; the hundreds of
 girls in rural pastoral areas where 
education opportunities are not
 available and poverty levels high. “The
 girl is the most disadvantaged since 
with limited resources, she will be
 sacrificed in favour of the boy child”,
she says. Her call is for donor agencies to continue supporting girls’ education
particularly for those from poor families in pastoral areas, minority groups and internally
 displaced families.
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