Colonial and Post-Independence Education in Somali

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The Somali people have a long and complex education history. The community being united by the same language, culture and religion used informal education to transmit the cultural and social values to the young and each generation committed a historical act for memories. The country was colonized by several colonies; the British, Italians, Arabs and French. However, education was introduced by the British and Italians so that the Somali could suit their economic goals. The Arabs on the other hand spread the Islamic religion. In 1947, both the British and Italian Somali lands had a total of 32 elementary schools, a health school and a police academy for the Somalis. The enrolment rate was very minimal with a total enrolment of 2465 student, less than I percent of total population. In the independence era, Somali was put under the UN trusteeship and thus the British and Italians had to expand their primary and secondary education. The enrolment rate therefore increased as the Somali considered education as a stepping stone to their development. In 1957, the Italians set up three secondary schools, a vocational institute and a university institute in Mogadishu. The university offered public administration as the main course. Consequently, the students’ enrolment increased to 14000 Somali in primary school. The British colony was neither left behind and in 1960, they set up 38 elementary schools, 12 intermediate schools, 3 secondary schools and 2 vocational schools.

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The enrolment rate comparatively increased to 3,429. A teacher training institute was also established to train future teachers.

Post-independence education

After independence several institutions were set up and the enrolment rate increased exponentially. However, due to the inter clan difference, there existed 8 years of hostility among the nation which resulted to eruption of a civil war in 1998. Many Somali were killed, others injured and some immigrated to different countries while a few were left in the country surviving under the harsh environment. The schools were burnt down as the rate of school dropout increased resulting to stunted growth in education. Nevertheless, significant progress has since been made in the reconstruction of education infrastructure throughout South-Central, Puntland, and Somaliland. The prolonged period of instability hampered reconstruction but did not stop the efforts of various actors in reclaiming education back. The local communities, the Somali diaspora, local and international NGOs, Islamic aid agencies, and the private sectors started rehabilitating the education sector and in 1999 and set up 144 primary schools and five secondary schools. By this time, most girls had been exposed to female genital mutilation at some point in their lives. “Recognizing this correlation, Somali activist Hawa Aden Mohamed established the Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development (GECPD) in the 1999 to create increased access to education in Somalia, especially for girls. The organization has since provided primary schooling to 800 girls and an “un-formal” education to 1,600 adolescent women.” A survey in 2010 indicated that students’ enrolment had increased and 917 primary schools and 84 secondary schools had been set up.

Despite the great efforts by the different actors, enrolment by students was relatively low as most families were nomadic pastoralists. They were therefore not in a position to hold children in school as the state of poverty was very high. In 2011, the Somalia government introduced free primary public education to try put up as many students as possible to school. Later in the year, they set up a higher education commission that would monitor the quality of education as well as relevance of programs /courses offered.

However, the government was unable to put up teachers in school as they could not afford to pay them. The schools almost collapsed as they ran out of funds to operate.

Higher education institutes

Before the collapse of state in 1991, the Somali government had one university (Somali national university) in Mogadishu with approximately 4000 students enrolled. Between 2004 and 2012 alone, 34 higher education institutions were established. There are now ten universities in Awdal Borama, 69 in Mogadishu, 7 in Bari, 7 in Gedo, 4 in Juba and Nugaal, 25 in Waqooyi and 8 in Sanaag and Sool towns. However, most of the universities are owned by private sector or individuals.

The government of Somali is crippled by pitful budget, limited capacities and an inevitable list of priorities, hence no choice other than allow the private sector dominate education. In addition the government had no fixed curriculum for the whole nation and thus graduates were fixed in areas of operation. Growing concerns therefore arose that without regulation of the quality of education received at Somalia’s, higher education institutions may fall far short of international standards. Somalia’s graduates may, as a result, be ill-prepared to enter employment with qualifications that are unlikely to be recognized beyond the country’s borders. An alarming number of education institutions existed without a library, without computer or printing facilities, and without scientific laboratories.

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