Local: Education

Free education lures Somali children from streets

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News,World,Education,Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Officials say more than 35,000 children have been enrolled in a donor-funded program offering free education in Somalia, but the country's al-Qaida-linked militant group has issued a new threat against the program, saying it secularizes children.

The government-run program —dubbed Go2School— was launched last year and has proved popular with parents and children who otherwise would not go to school.

Abdiwahid Sheikh Ahmed, a principal in Mogadishu, said his goal is "to bring many lost children back to school."

Somalia, which is recovering from years of strife, has one of the world's lowest school enrolment rates. The U.N. says only 42 percent attend primary school.

Sheikh Ali Mohamed Hussein, an al-Shabab leader, warned parents this week not to send their children to school, saying they could be targeted for attacks.

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