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  1. Somalia By: Stephanie Kroger, Marybeth Liebsch, Jennifer Vincent, Pang Yang and Catherine Young

  2. Somalia Democratic Republic Area: 246,201 square miles Neighbors: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden Population: 7,753,310 Language: Somali, English, Arabic, Italian Ethnic groups: 85% Somali, 1.2% Arab, .4% Bantu, 13.4% others Present Day Governement - In 2004, warlords and politicians agreed to establish a new transitional parliament - Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed became president

  3. Political History • January 1991, Siad Barre was forced out of power • -Civil War broke out because of warlords (mostly former army officers) • -Warlords killed, beat and raped other group members and clans Refugee/ Immigration to Minnesota • Many people died from disease, violence and famine • Seek refugee in Kenya and Ethiopia • According to Minneapolis Foundation Org. Somalis immigrated to Minnesota for two reasons: • The existence of an established Somali community • Availability of unskilled jobs that do not require English fluency or literacy

  4. Social History Customs: Men and Women are separated in most aspect of life Daily task is performed using the RIGHT hand Men and Women do not shake hand (Not allowed to touch one another unless married • Clothing: • Men wear the Futa, several lengths of white cotton wrapped around waist to the knee and draped over the shoulder • Women wear the Hijab, full length dress that covers the entire body except for hands and feet. (MARRIED women are expected to cover their body from head to toe) • Marriage: • Most marriages are arranged • Average bride age is 14 or 15 • Men can marry up to 4 wives at one time

  5. Basically, Somalia has had no formal public education throughout history 1960 - became independent republic. Mass education was promoted (never caught on). 1972 - Latin script for writing the Somali language was adopted 1990 - Literacy rate was up to 24%. 36% for males, and 14% for females. 1991 - Collapse of the Somali State lead to the destruction of schools.

  6. Today… • There is no formal public education system in place. There is a small private education sector. • Literacy rate is 37.8%. Males: 49.9% Females: 25.8% (definition: age 15 and over that can read and write) HOW DOES THIS AFFECT INSTRUCTION? Somali’s youth are adopting lives of survival in a disintegrating society rather then how to learn and act at a school. Students immigrating from Somalia will need to learn how to act at a school before you begin instruction. Even then, many will be learning how to read and write for the first time. • Abdi, Ali A. “Education in Somalia: history, destruction, and calls for reconstruction. Comparative Education. Volume 34 No. 3 1998. Pp. 327-340 •

  7. Language:Somali vs. English • Somali uses all but three letters (p, v, and z) of the English alphabet. • The Somali language has 33 sounds, 15 are very similar to their English counterparts. (b,d,f,g,h,j,k,l,m,n,s,sh,t,w,y) • Somali has seven consonants that do not match anything in English (c, dh, kh, q, r, x, and glottal stop) • Vowels have only one sound in Somali, unlike English • Somali is a tonal language with four tones • The Somali alphabet is written from left to right in horizontal rows.

  8. How does this affect instruction? • English sounds that may present difficulties for Somali students include: c, q, r, and x. (This is because of pronunciation differences.) • Vowels may be difficult for Somali students because English does not have a one-to-one correspondence between vowel letters and sounds. • Somalis may draw out English double vowels, like noon or been, giving them the long sound like they would have in Somali. Much time will need to be spent introducing the concept that vowels have multiple sounds connected with them. • Somali has no equivalent for a/an. Indefinites are expressed by the noun alone in Somali. This will be very confusing to students. • Verbs usually come last in Somali. Students will need to change the way they construct sentences. • In Somali, differences in gender, number, or case are marked by grammatical tone.

  9. Culture • They often use sweeping hand and arm gestures to emphasize speech. • The “thumbs up” is not polite! • Do not use your index finger to call on a student!

  10. Many Somali people are Muslim so… • They pray 5 times a day ( 6am, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, early evening). • Fast each day during the month of Ramadan. • Pork is prohibited

  11. Resources for Teachers Bilingual Somali Books: • Somali Family Reader at • Informational Brochure at • Reading Rockets (Family Guide for tips and ideas on reading and literacy) • Tips for Reading in Somali These tips sheets are available in multiple languages.

  12. More Resources for Teachers • Lessons on learning about Somalia: • Online Folktales in English and Somali • General Information on Somalia: St.Paul Public Library (awesome!) • Bilingual website, specifically for Somalis in the Twin Cities

  13. The End