Aisha Ahmed Hussein, also known as ‘Aisha-Gesdir,’ is making a significant impact in Galkayo, the capital city of the Mudug region in the Somali Federal Member State of Puntland, by addressing the educational needs of Somali children. In a country where more than three million children are out of school due to various challenges, Aisha is playing a vital role in providing access to high-quality education.
Growing up during Somalia’s civil war in the Burtinle district of Puntland’s Nugaal region, Aisha faced challenges but was determined to obtain an education. Despite the absence of government programs due to the civil war, her parents supported her education through private tuition at nearby madrasas. Aisha’s journey includes a bachelor’s degree in education and community development from Cavendish University in Uganda and a post-graduate diploma in leadership from Makerere University.
In 2016, Aisha founded the Aayatiin Early Childhood Education, Care, and Development Centre with minimal support. Initially operating in a rented house, the centre has grown to accommodate more than 155 students, ages three to five. The Galkayo community donated a large plot of land, and in 2020, with support from Puntland’s Ministry of Education and UNICEF, a new building was constructed for the school.
The centre, the first government-supported nursery school in Puntland, focuses on early childhood education. UNICEF’s Early Childhood Education Programme provides significant funding, aiming to bridge pre-primary and primary student learning expectations. The school employs 13 teachers and administrative staff, and approximately 40% of enrolled students pay no fees.
Aisha aims for inclusivity by fostering equal opportunities, including for disabled children and those from marginalized communities. Despite challenges, including financial constraints and transportation issues, the centre stands as a model for early childhood education. Aisha envisions further development, hoping to build a school equipped with essential resources.
In a country where education is a passport to human development, Aisha Ahmed Hussein’s efforts align with UNICEF’s goals to ensure inclusive, equitable, and quality education. UNICEF, working closely with the Federal Government’s Ministry of Education, supports education programs in Somalia, addressing the needs of children affected by emergencies and contributing to the SDGs for a better future.