In the male-dominated Somali society, women have no or very little opportunities in higher education and employment. That forces most of the women in the region to be housewives or work in hard low-paying jobs such as cleaning, sewing and main street small businesses. Despite that, roughly more than 60% of the Somali families are supported by these women. They are the breadwinners who provide for the whole family including their husbands and other dependents.
In order to tackle this hardship and create working opportunities for the women in Puntland, Kaalo Nederland launched a scholarship program that trained fifteen women in July, 2021. The program which was a two-year diploma in Secretary and Office Administration was successfully completed in June 2023. Although the number of trainees was a bit small due to the fact that the project was a pilot program and its cost was limited, the project has created a huge impact and completely changed the lives of the beneficiaries for the better.
These girls who have been selected through a fair process, started studying diploma in management on 1st of August 2021 at Puntland Institute of Management and Technology (PIMAT). PIMAT is a higher educational institute that hosts diploma-level education programs. The institute is supported by Stichting Kaalo Nederland and it gives free education to create employment opportunities for the young people in Puntland. The institute has been functional for four years and two batches of trainees have graduated from it since its establishment.
During the course of this project, the trainees took various courses in different disciplines of education. The program specifically emphasized on three major knowledge areas: (a) Entrepreneurship, secretary and office managerial skills – this are skills that are highly demanded by many organizations in Puntland, yet there aren’t enough people who are qualified for it in the region. This are also well-paying skills for a lady. (b) English proficiency – as a recently published research paper showed, lack of English proficiency is one of the major challenges that hinder young graduates from securing a job. These fifteen girls have been taught the English language by professional teachers. Their speaking, writing, listening and reading skills have been built, focusing on the first two, so that they can easily communicate in English. (c) Computer proficiency – since digital literacy is a very significant skill that every employee is required to possess, this program made sure that our students master the application packages that are used in offices every day.
All of the trainees mastered these skills and more. After four semesters of hard-work and dedication, the beneficiaries graduated with some of them already gotten hired to work as office secretaries. That was because they were taught the skills in the program not only in class but also in the field. Each student took an internship program where they became familiar with the working environment. This education program has created job opportunities for fifteen unemployed ladies from poor families. It has also brought fifteen professional office managers and secretaries to the city of Garowe. This will generally contribute to the fight against poverty and unemployment.