Education in Somalia: Wrangles between the Ministry and School Umbrellas

Finally the ministry of education for federal government has managed to execute national examination for the first time in two decades, breaking a record that seemed impossible.

Some 7000 students sat for the national examination countrywide close to half of the overall number of students who finished their secondary education.

This came after months of wrangling between the ministry and 12 schools umbrellas that went against the wishes of the government to hold national examination.

Goobjoog News has taken the initiative to go the extra mile to examine the root cuases of the disagreements between the two.

Private Education Umbrellas Networks

For the past 25 years Somali private Education Networks were the sole responsible for the education of millions of Somali School going children, this was against all odds given the country’s status which has been paradigmatic example of anarchy.

Without education policy act or Unified Curriculum they succeeded to Educate hundred of Somalis from all walks of life; not only the conventional normal school of the children aged between 6-16 but of adults who are immigrating nomad life to that of urban life.

In the treacherous years of lawlessness in the country –they were bold and assertive to open the eyes of many, and give hope to thousands of hopeless youth who now form the back born of Somalia’s recovery.

There are 12 private education networks in the country; they control some 817 schools country wide.

In a report they released recently, there are 2, 87000 (two hundred, eighty seven thousand) students enrolled in the schools, of which 17,254 sat for the final secondary examination.

They employ 8,000 teachers and another 8,000 staff, making one of the biggest employees in a country hurt by unemployment.

The schools umbrellas also manage to break the barriers within Somalia’s territories with different administrations who don’t always agree on political fronts, like self proclaimed independent state of Somaliland.

But it is a bare fact that these private institutions flourished in lawlessness, with little or no oversight authority for checks and balances in what they are doing, the quality of education they are doing is often questioned, the curriculums they are teaching is browed from different gulf states.

Federal Education Ministry

Since the demise of Somali central State and its Institutions in 1990’s of the past 20th century, the subsequent Education Ministries were less effective to care the business of education in the country.

From 2009, the education ministry has seen at least 9 ministers with different agendas and approaches, with everyone starting a fresh instead of starting where the previous minister left off.

Every minister talked about reviving the education and to do so, main priority targets for the ministry was to established national education curriculum, national certificate, to register schools, to license teachers and create national data base for teachers and lastly to exercise the oversight and supervision authority of the ministry to control the quality of education.

One of the main duties of the ministry is to provide free education to the Somali children as this includes the service delivery priorities of the any given government, but given circumstances faced by the current Somali government, that could not be possible.

But In 2013 the ministry got boosted by the popular go to school campaign funded UNICEF and other aid Organization , they offered salaries for the teachers, and other related expenses to get one million children back to school.

This could have been the best chance for the ministry to achieve the intended goal of delivering service, but two years down the line, the ministry does not control a single school as the Go to School campaign became waste of money and energy.

The Basis of the Raw

The private education networks refused the ministry’s plan to organize national examination on the grounds that it didn’t passed the required Private Education Bill through the parliament which would have regulated the education industry.

They also refused to hand over the students’ data in their possession for fear it may be subjected to manipulation by corrupt officials in the ministry.

One official from the umbrellas Mr. Ali Mohamed Fidow has told Goobjoog that they need the 1984 Private Education Bill modified and passed through the parliament “This is the only document which can bring us on the same page, because it guarantees us our rights and protects our interests” he said.

But the ministry is not buying that, Hamud Ali Hassan is the deputy education minister, he says that the Bill is in the process “We took our resolution and we are going to hold the examination regardless of the networks position” he said.

He accused them of trying to hold the country ransom and couldn’t swallow the fact that Somalia has a government now which is ready to regulate education sector. The minister further said “We sat with them, we have been working with them for more than a year now, we agreed on this, but every time we are on the verge of succeeding, the step back”.

The ministry also suspects that the umbrellas decision might be related to the threats by rebel group Alshabab who warned that if the government organizes an examination, they would launch attacks on the examination venues.

What is Next?

Now the ministry has proceeded with the examination and managed to get 7 thousand students, there were no security incidents reported so far anywhere in the country as the examination is running the second straight day.

Umbrellas has already taken the exam weeks ago and even issued school leaving certificates, but no doubt thousands of their students didn’t took part of the government’s examination as they heeded for the call to boycott the exams.

It may take rounds of mediations and negotiations to bring together the two sides, and find lasting solution for this debacle.

But the appropriate body to intervene such situation, which the parliament porto folio on social affairs has yet to enter the fray.

By : Ahmed Abdihadi Abdullahi and Abdinasir Bashir Ahmed

Goobjoog News

 

 

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