A language app, Daariz, is helping 350,000 East Africans to read and write in the Somali language, a language spoken in the horn of Africa.

The app was developed by the Sahamiye Foundation, a charity working to improve education in the Horn of Africa and empower all people with lifelong literacy skills.

Over 350,000 children and adults across the Horn of Africa are learning to read and write in Somali with Daariz, which is a free language app. The target countries include; Somaliland, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. Launched in 2021, Daariz aims to address the region’s low literacy rates by making language skills more accessible and inclusive for learners of all ages.

The Horn of Africa currently faces a multitude of challenges. This includes an absence of rural schools to recurring droughts and ongoing conflict, coupled with a highly mobile population which all contribute to low school enrolment and limited access to quality education. As a result, over 70% of late primary school students in the region cannot read and understand a simple story in Somali. The region’s average school enrolment, at around 30%, also continues to be one of the lowest in the world.

Developed in response to these challenges, Daariz offers virtual reading, writing, comprehension lessons and a digital library, ensuring everyone can access a consistent and high-quality education.

Daariz is designed to help in-school and out-of-school children and adults achieve functional literacy in Somali language within a short period of time. It combines fun, interactive games, and personalised feedback with a reward system, making learning enjoyable and engaging.

The app’s offline access has critically enabled more women and girls, who face significant educational barriers, to acquire literacy skills remotely. About 48% of Daariz learners are women and girls which is significantly higher than female school enrolment in the region.

Daariz also incorporates culturally relevant elements like virtual camels and badges to engage learners. Earning a herd of a hundred ‘virtual camels’, cherished symbols of wealth in Somali culture, indicates achievement of functional literacy, a critical milestone. To date, learners have earned an impressive five million ‘camels’ for their literacy achievements. Soon, learners’ virtual camel stock will outnumber the actual seven million-strong real Somali camel grazing in the Horn of Africa region.

Ismail Ahmed, founder of The Sahamiye Foundation, said: “Daariz fills a critical gap in the Horn of Africa, providing accessible and engaging literacy education where it’s most needed. The 350,000 learners is not just a number, but a testament to our shared belief in the transformative power of literacy. Each person represents a story of resilience, potential, and a brighter future.”

Daariz further supports learners to progress and improve their skills by monitoring test results, app usage, engagement levels, speed reading performance.

The Daariz app is available on Google Play and on the Apple Store.