From Samoa to Somalia: How civil society organizations transform education

10 June 2024


Primary school children in Lefaga, Upolu, Samoa.

In the youthful nation of Somalia, three-quarters of the population is under 30 years old. “Most of them do not have their right to education, employment, or development fulfilled,” says Adam Mohamed, the coordinator of the civil society organization Education For All Somalia

“Most of the national budget goes to other sectors, and not social services and youth empowerment”, he adds. 

To help meet the educational needs in his country, Mohamed recently completed an IIEP-UNESCO online course on the basics of educational planning, as a grantee of Education Out Loud (EOL). 

He says, "Unless civil society will have the capacity to fight for the rights of the young generation, youth will remain at risk of civil unrest and poverty”.

For Mohamed, understanding and participating in education sector planning is crucial. He also looks forward to using his new knowledge in an upcoming Education Quality Assurance Forum to increase transparency and accountability in education in Somalia. 

Held between 18 March and 12 April 2024, the IIEP course was structured into three modules. These covered critical aspects of the educational planning cycle, from sectoral analysis to policy formulation and monitoring. 

Discussions focused on how to better use the data, evidence, and experience that civil society organizations can bring into sectoral analysis, and on how to reflect civil society concerns in formulating educational policies, especially those targeting the most vulnerable learners.

As most civil society organizations in the course are members of Local Education Groups (LEGs) or Joint Sector Reviews, participants also had the chance to exchange about their contributions to such mechanisms and discuss related challenges – such as time for consultation, financial support, data quality, and availability, or coordination of efforts. 

Participants were divided into two groups – 138 Advocates and 126 Champions from 37 countries – and engaged in activities tailored to their chosen learning paths. While both groups completed interactive learning modules and participated in online forums, the Champions also collaborated on the development of country action plans.

“Empowering civil society actors with the tools and knowledge needed for effective educational planning is key to advocating for better funding, ensuring that educational policies are inclusive and effective, and holding governments to account”, explains Muriel Poisson, the course designer, and IIEP team leader a.i. for Knowledge Management and Mobilization. 

Joy Leaupepetele, the Director and Coordinator of the Samoa Education Network says civil society organizations understand the specific needs and aspirations of youth today. 

“Civil society organizations can hold the government accountable for delivering on educational promises. They can monitor progress, identify shortcomings, and advocate for improvements”, she says. 

Failing to do so, she adds, can lead to higher dropout rates and lower overall achievement. She said the course helped her understand the system better, including who to collaborate with and how to navigate the education system. 

Diane Coury, an IIEP programme specialist, explained during the course how civil society organizations can fruitfully enter the planning cycle and help bring relevant expertise and insights to co-construct a common understanding of educational needs and strategies.

“Civil society organizations play a major role in collecting and analyzing data on marginalized groups and can relay what they are facing,” she said in a live webinar during the course.

Finally, during the last live webinar held as part of the training, participants had the opportunity to hear about KIX regional hubs, and how they can help civil society access, produce, and use relevant education research evidence. 

In a post-course survey, participants expressed significantly increased confidence (98% compared to 51% before the course) in identifying strategies to advocate for key education policies that tackle major educational challenges.

This helps the participants tap into their important watchdog role, helping to improve accountability and transparency for better educational service delivery.

Leaupepetele agrees: “By taking this course, we are better positioned to leverage our EOL grant and make a real difference." 

“I understand the educational landscape, can strategically advocate for our community’s needs, and collaborate effectively with others to shape a brighter future for Samoan education”, she says.  


This IIEP training course was conducted as part of IIEP’s role as an Education Out Loud Global Learning Partner.