Children and Childhood in Somalia

Describe ‘some’ significant aspects of your own childhood and show how these differ from the experiences of children growing up in other times and cultures. Within this essay, I aim to discuss aspects of my childhood of which I deem significant, and further compare these experiences, showing not only how they differ, but also the similarities, between childhood during the Victorian era in Britain, and a different culture, specifically the African country of Somalia. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNRC) states that all children, 17 and under, live a safe, happy and fulfilled childhood (Clark; 2010).
Growing up in 1990’s and 2000’s Britain, the children of my era were fortunate enough to be under such protection. Somalia has no such government in charge since the 1990’s, therefore is one of only two countries to have not signed this worldwide treaty, with the USA being the other, and I expect to find that my childhood varies vastly from those in Somalia, and also the children of the Victorian era who did not have such education guidelines as recent times do. Growing up, luxuries were handed to me constantly. Whether it was education, holidays, food or toys, I gratefully accepted them and didn’t think twice.
Education is free and compulsory to every child in England from the age of five until the age of seventeen. We also have the Early Years Foundation (EYFS), a series of structural learning, development and care for all children from birth to the age of five. All schools or registered early years providers in the private, voluntary and independent sectors must follow the EYFS (http://www. direct. gov. uk). The EYFS ensures several things; parents being kept up to date with their childs progress, the welfare and wellbeing of all children regardless off gender, ethnicity, disabilities etc. and the early years practicioners work with the parents very closely. The latter is interesting; in England, we have the luxury of parents being able to come to playschools and similar institutions to be with the children. This would be impossible in Somalia for many children. UNICEF research (2008, http://www. unicef. org) has indicated that around 1 in 14 women die due to pregnancy or pregnancy complications, leaving many children without a mother. Compare this to England and the maternal mortality rate (MMR) was approximately 11 in 100,000 between 2006 and 2008 (http://www. atient. co. uk). When children in Somalia get older, not all of them attend primary or secondary schools. The enrolment rate in Somalia for primary education is a mere 23% (UNICEF Somalia Statistics). During the Victorian era, things were extremely different to present day. Families had to pay for their children to go to schools, and with children working in factories and mines, or as chimneysweeps, many never attended school. A young school student growing up in the nineties would not have to work unlike those in the Victorian era.

A personal experience of working for myself is that of a paper round at the age of 13. This was merely more money on top of pocket money, and supplied plenty of expenditure for that age. In the period preceding 1833, before the Factory Act took place, children of 13 and under would be working extremely long hours with little breaks. Only children from rich and middle class families attended school, and it wasn’t until 1870, when the Elementary Education Act was introduced, that things began to take a turn towards how children today experience schol.
This act saw the beginning of a stream of education bills aimed to help children get access to education. In 1880, school was mandatory for all children up until the age of 10, and in 1889 this limit was raised to 12. Families still had to pay for schooling at this point, until 1891 when the fee was abolished. Thankfully, this was the start of how all children would be provided with free education, a luxury that not all those in Somalia have.

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