Incl. bibl, abstract. In the light of fresh international initiatives to achieve Universal Basic Education and gender equality in education by 2015, this paper examines factors affecting its realisation in the context of Somaliland. In a 'country' where over 80 percent of the school age population are receiving little meaningful education, the paper reflects on more flexible approaches to education to enable sustainable education for children and disadvantaged adults. The paper draws on fieldwork data from a DfID-funded study (DFID ED2000/107) and the authors' own experiences. The discussion highlights the peculiar circumstances of Somaliland. It charts the provision of Education in Somaliland from the colonial era through post-independence times to the civil conflict which led to the destruction of education in the country. It goes on to look at the progress being made at the present time following 'stop-gap' measures for emergency education towards revitalising enhanced education. It completes the picture by describing challenges to the achievement of the UBE target. The authors review aspects of alternative and flexible educational approaches and urge the integration of these non-formal systems with the formal, governmentally controlled school systems being restored in Somaliland. They do so while sounding a note of caution that for all the energy and enthusiasm associated with these approaches, they have yet to be evaluated for their effectiveness in providing quality basic education.