Written by Belise Hirwa
Somalia formerly Somaliland, which has as its capital city Mogadishu, is a small country located in the horn of Africa. Over the years, Somalia has been involved in intrastate conflicts. For instance, clannism and clan differences are a main source of conflict used to divide Somalis, including fuel clashes over resources and power. These differences have also been used to mobilize militia, and make broad-based reconciliation very difficult to achieve. This results in political leaders manipulating clannism for their own purposes. No emerging government has been able to establish a successful peaceful coexistence among the Somalis. It has been noted that in most communities they have set up their own traditional peace means to regain a peaceful state which has been quite significant. These challenges have posed serious concerns to education in the country. Specifically, some of the challenges that the country faces in relation to access to education are discussed below.
The formation of Al-shabaab is a major contributor to the educational challenges experienced in Somalia. The terrorist group is composed of a lot of Somalia’s young citizens who ought to be students in schools. During combats, Al-shabaab sends these young people on the front line where they are easily killed due to the very little training that has been offered them. Also arising out of this, are cases of rape resulting to early marriages and teenage pregnancies. Overall, terrorism affects the educational systems in Somalia.
Frequent wars and overcrowded classrooms
Another main problem Somali pupils suffer from is the problem of overcrowded classrooms. Even the lucky ones that make it to school cannot really benefit from it fully. It is truly hard to have quality education in overcrowded spaces, but there are even more problems. Frequent civil wars majored by the 1991 civil war are major factors that has caused poor educational systems in Somalia. This has posed a setback to students going back to schools because of their displacements in different locations. Students also in the process, lost their schooling items when their classes were invaded, this makes it difficult for them to continue their education.
The challenges associated with Covid-19
Covid-19 was first detected in Wuhan, China and later on spread to most parts of the world. Africa at large was affected. In Somalia there are still challenges where the advent of the virus continues to affect the daily activities of students. Especially in higher education departments where students had adopted online learning, hence there is an uneven and confused students’ attendance in these institutions. Over all, this affects the quality of the experience student are able to get out of the schools.
Somalia is a country that has been facing intra security problems for the past 3 decades continuously. This has not only affected the migration formula of the Somalis but has also largely affected their education system. Closed roads, explosions and violence are common factors that hinder the free movement of students and these results to families sending children to nearby schools regardless of the quality of education those school offer, all in a bid to prioritize the safety of their children. More also, the teachers are affected as they barely get paid their salaries frequently due to unexpected attacks. The salaries received by the teachers are also limited.
Lack of parental guidance and language barrier
Many parents in Somalia barely have formal education and as such, cannot give proper guidance and support to their children with regards to schoolwork. Language barrier is also another problem that Somalis face, and it remains a challenge for teachers, parents and students. Arabic and Somali are the official languages, therefore, in a case where most textbooks are in English language, a language barrier problem will arise.
Inadequate learning programs and lack of uniformity
Most schools have inadequate learning programs that caters only to theoretical learning without providing practical learning as well. In Somalia, most students get the theory experience with no results of the practical experience. This results to inadequate knowledge of most subjects. Lack of a similar syllabus is also another challenge that is affecting the country’s educational system.
Academic dishonesty and corruption
There are wide spread reports of corruption among teachers in Somalia. This includes cases of teachers demanding bribes for admission of new students, tendering false documents e.g. certificates, and giving bribes to acquire promotions. All these acts of corruption including the issue of nepotism poses challenges to education in Somalia.
In Somalia many citizens are living as IDPs due to harsh security means. As a result, they cannot afford to pay for school or tuition fee, transport, uniform and books. Majority of the less privileged are left unattended and have no access to education.
- Regional blocs that Somalia has acquired membership of should support Somalia by all means to reduce the growth of Al-Shabaab which continues to threaten education in the country.
- The ministry of health and ministry of education should collaborate for regular tests for covid 19 as it is still within the country. Through regular checkups and distribution of the appropriate materials, the scourge of the virus can be curbed in the schools.
- The government of Somalia should organize and create more spaces for classes, starting with the lower level to the tertiary levels of education. This will reduce the number of students attending classes in small spaces.
- Security is of importance, especially in educational institutions. The government of Somalia should ensure tight security at all levels. This will motivate parents to take their children to schools. Special security arrangements should be made to protect schools, teachers and students.
- Parents-teachers relationship should be advanced through frequent visits of parents to their teachers, this will result to mutual growth and connection of the students. The creation of parents-teachers associations should be highly encouraged too.
- Students, especially those in secondary schools should be exposed to knowledge of the theory and practical aspects of certain majors (sciences). Schools should be committed to admitting students by the accurate numbers of practical apparatus available. The practical studies should also be taught on a very regular basis for effectiveness.
- Teachers’ trainings institutes in the government of Somalia should work under a similar board in order to build the capacity of teachers.
- Adequate funding should be done in Somalia’s educational systems. The government should engage in donations and distribution of, for instance textbooks and exercise books. The government should also commit to building new schools and rebuilding the ones that have come under attacks.
- Ahmed, H., Allaf, M., & Elghazaly, H. (2020). COVID-19 and Medical Education. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 20, 777-778.
- Bao, W. (2020). COVID-19 and Online Teaching in Higher Education: A Case Study of Peking University. Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies, 2, 113-115.
- Barre, A. G. (2020). Somalia Education Sector COVID-19 Response Plan.
- Abdifatah Abdiaziz Dahie
- Somalia Education Cluster Note on COVID-19 Preparedness and Response 11 (2020).
- Cover Photo by Ismail Salad Osman Hajji dirir on Unsplash