'Meet the Somalis' comics in schools
We have launched ComicsInSchools.org, a multimedia resource commissioned by Open Society Foundations, using issue-based comics and creative tools to understand and tackle barriers to achievement in schools.
Extract from comics © Open Society Foundations 2013, reproduced with permission
The resource materials have been produced by young people of Somali origin and their peers in North London through workshop sessions, and can be used in educational settings to explore similar issues and themes with young people from an intentionally broad point of view.
Pupils of Somali origin in the UK are currently one of the lowest performing groups in terms of educational attainment, as well as there being a disproportionate number of Somali-heritage pupils at risk of being excluded from schools. Read more here.
Based on the Meet the Somalis comics, an OSF-funded project produced by Positive Negatives telling the stories of individuals and families in seven cities around Europe, the resources reflect the visual and aural tradition of Somalia in a non-traditional way. They paint a richer and broader picture of issues which are often oversimplified and defined by these statistics and wider public attitudes.
Working together with London boroughs, schools, families, and community organisations, we took the comics as a base to practically address issues facing Somali communities in London.
Some of these issues and themes include identity and belonging, migration, intergenerational communication/conflict, literacy, teacher understanding and expectation, and school and community relations.
Produced in partnership with OSF, Positive Negatives and William Ellis School in Camden.
Explore the resources! www.comicsinschools.org
Maslaha is available to run workshops in schools, and we are also establishing an outline for teacher training. We are also open to commissions to develop creative and practical tools to tackle social issues in education and other areas.
Somali pupils in the UK are currently one of the lowest performing groups in terms of educational attainment – in 2007, 24% achieved 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C. Despite the fact that Somali pupils and their parents have been shown to have high aspirations and a positive attitude to schooling, educational attainment is variable and as an overall group remains low, although there is significant local variation.
However, as statistics only ever tell a small part of the story, we worked in partnership with William Ellis School in North London to explore and share the bigger picture, working both with young people of Somali origin and young people of other backgrounds. The variety of perspectives give a deeper and richer understanding of the experiences of Somali-heritage young people. While this specific context is the focus, many of the issues and experiences will be familiar to and relevant for other young people from all walks of life.
The results are the multimedia resource pages, here.
 Strand et al (2010) Drivers and Challenges in Raising the Achievement of Pupils from Bangladeshi, Somali and Turkish Backgrounds, DCSF p27; Greater London Authority (2013) The London Annual Education Report, p16
 ibid p14-17
 Jill Rutter (2004) Refugee Communities in the UK: Somali Children’s Educational Progress and Life Experiences, London Metropolitan University p4