Somalia Educational Reform Strategy
Somalia has long suffered from famine and civil war, leaving a substantial population of refugees and displaced persons. Since 1991 critical functions have gone unattended due to the lack of an operative central government. Progress has been made to establish enduring peace in Somalia and throughout the country. The documented peace process lasted approximately 16 years. Below is a graph that outlines the series of negotiations and agreements that moved the country towards peace (AMISOM: African Union Mission in Somalia, 2014).
In 2008 the process towards peace and unification took significant strides with the establishment of a monumental peace agreement. This occurred between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia. The new political culture seeks to establish clear divisions of power operating through a centralized government. Success hinges in part on the ability of the TFG to operate as a national organization as opposed to a Mogadishu establishment (Chitiyo & Rader, 2012).
Further, in 2012 there was an international summit held in the UK, on Somalia. Discussion included the development of a framework on seven critical issues. Those included safety, piracy, extremism, humanitarian aid, local permanence, political methodology, and international engagement. The general consensus that emerged is that multilateral intervention is pivotal for Somalia’s stability (Chitiyo & Rader, 2012).
One of the focal areas of improvement is the formation of local permanence. As such, the re-establishment of local education for youth is vital. Students in Somalia have historically suffered intermittent access to schooling as their communities and families have endured tragedy and conflict. During this period of reformation, a large part of the country is striving to normalize civil society and striving to recover from the conflict as quickly as possible.
However, with a history of leadership segmented at a regional level, a unified educational system is challenging. Also, many of the targeted youth are influenced by external factors such as terrorism, military factions, piracy, and poverty. Some have even left the country to create additional opportunities for success (News Africa, 2012).
What is being proposed is the rapid hiring of new teachers equipped to facilitate the student learning process. Also, recommended is the rebuilding of schools that have sports facilities, classrooms equipped with cutting edge technology, and beautiful auditoriums. Newly established facility can also provide local communities with a location for important meetings. As part of the educational experience, events promoting national hope and Somalian pride will occur.
Additionally, it is important that the educational system is self-supporting, while simultaneously operating within the context of the government’s broader vision. This would entail the development of an educational board, chair, and group of international advisors, independent funding, and the ability to sustain itself long-term. Critical international partnerships would include (Canada, U.S., China, India, Malaysia, and South Korea).
One of the biggest proponents of educational reform will be President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Born in central Hiran region (1955) he has championed educational reform for many years. His background includes undergraduate studies (engineering) from Somali National University and an MBA from Bhopal University. Additionally, he was instrumental in the establishment of Simad University in 1999, eventually serving as dean (BBC: News Africa, 2012).
Currently the Somalian educational system is structured in a manner similar to the western school systems. As such primary-secondary education occurs between ages 6 to 18 years old. Post-secondary education includes vocational and tertiary education. One distinct attribute of the primary educational process is the necessity of parents to partially fund a child’s learning. Therefore those without sufficient financial means are limited to inclusion in such a system (Foreign Credits, 2012).
Additionally, English is taught as a secondary language from second grade forward. During middle school educational curriculum is defined by the Somalian Ministry of Education. Tertiary education is divided into two sub-sections. The first is a remediation program for high school dropouts and a way of reengaging them into society. The other is a traditional educational route which transitions youth to Universities (Foreign Credits, 2012).
Critical stakeholders include educational committees, regional administrators, community-based organizations and a network of NGO’s and religious organizations. Presently there is approximately 710, 860 primary children attending school out of approximately 1.7 million. Out of the forty-two percent of primary children 36 percent are girls. There is also a disproportionate amount of female teachers (approximately 15 percent). The typical student to teacher ratio is 1:33 (UNICEF, n.d.).
At a granular level there are significant regional level variations. Several indicators of poor learning outcomes include low test scores, drop-out rates, and grade repetition. Of the grade one enrollees (2001-2002) less than forty percent advanced to the fifth grade (2006-2007). This reveals a need for continued promotion of secondary education. Present and future strategies must include remediation and various approaches to ensure gender equity among youth and teachers (UNICEF, n.d.).
We intend to help mold and create next generation leaders of a peaceful Somalia. Our goal is to:
We will accomplish these stated goals by providing hands on access to a rich curriculum based on some of the best practices that have been identified by the international education community.This includes, but is not limited to the following educational approaches:
The vision is a school system that is the envy of neighboring nations. Properly implemented it will eventually become the blueprint for education in the 21st century. Also, International best practices will permeate teaching methodologies, and students will be equipped for success post-graduation.
Success metrics of graduates will include attendance at selected universities and the establishment of new businesses. This is important both for the poor and displaced youth in Somalia as well as the children of the Somalia Diaspora who will return to the country. These same students would be creating the solutions necessary to reinvent their own national identity. National identity would include economics, infrastructure, politics, and sustainable social structures.
There are three main strategic stages we hope to use to achieve these goals. We hope to build a model school, establish a teacher development program, and work with the government to create policies for a public education system.
This would be the first step in our process. We want to build a modern facility, which can support a full STEM program. This would ideally be a boarding school in a safe region. We will be facilitating professional development in-service training with the teachers. The goal of the in-service training will be to support their implementation of the instructional strategies.
Based on the successes at our model school site, we will utilize the strategies developed at the model site and share best practices with schools in other regions of the country. Select teachers will assist with the facilitation of training.
iii. Strategy 3 - Work with Government to form policy
In addition to working with other schools, we will partner with the government to develop new national educational standards. The goal will be the eventual development of a modern education system that is recognized internationally.
The Somalia Educational Reform Strategy (SERS) campaign will build upon best practice strategic concepts. One established system is the G2S system created by UNICEF. However, there are limits to the G2S approach including student financial contributions, and curriculum limitations. For example, national history, cultural values, do not appear to be central to the UNICEF program. One method for ensuring the continued cultural education of Somalian youth is the implementation of its own books and curriculum. Additionally, efforts must be made to ensure retention of students post-graduation. This will support continued economic viability.
The SERS campaign will incorporate a number of communication channels that engage stakeholders throughout Somalia including parents, community leaders, religious leaders, government administrators, and patrons.
The goal will be to establish a strong base of Grants and Contracts as the primary funding source. The one time gifts and individual donors will also be a focus but not the primary focus. In terms of documentation there will be annual reports, a detailed financial plan, a database of private/public members and prospects (Regional Arab Network Against AIDS, n.d.).
There will also be a gift acceptance policy that establishes the rules/protocols for donations. There will also be mobilization of volunteers for campaigns, canvassing and promotion of the school. There will be communication and marketing material as well as a cutting edge website. Donor signage and supplies will ensure that the message is clearly communicated throughout Somalia (Regional Arab Network Against AIDS, n.d.).
The goal will be to generate funding by engaging new and traditional donors interested in supporting education of Somali children. In terms of ‘brand identity’ for SERS the goal would be to partner with an organization like the United Way Worldwide. The message of the United Way Worldwide is to enhance the outcomes for inner city youth (United Way Worldwide, 2014).
Additionally high-impact print ads, videos, and electronic material will further establish the SERS visibility. Also, highlighting achievements of Somalian youth who are going through the program will be critical. Various press briefings should highlight important milestones and celebrations (Regional Arab Network Against AIDS, n.d.).
A calendar that outlines engagement opportunities for donors will be available also: The following are types of events that will be celebrated:
Source: (Regional Arab Network Against AIDS, n.d.).
One of the areas of opportunity addressed by the ministry is the launching of free institutions for secondary education. As the school sites are launched SERS will pursue Government grants and private funding that supports such educational opportunities. The minister has described education as a basic right for Somalian children (Ministry Of Education, Culture & Higher Education Somalia, 2013).
One of the critical stakeholders is the community. It is important that there are sufficient teachers, school resources, and that the environment is safe. There will also be registration campaigns that encourage enrollment for those students (especially inner city). Once students enroll it will be important the community supports sustained education. The role of student retention will also be the responsibility of teachers and parents (UNICEF, n.d.).
Also, religious, political, and community leaders will be updated and informed about progress through radio and television. Members of the SERS board will further engage the community through public awareness speeches and Q & A sessions. Additionally there will be attendance by SERS leadership at various Governmental events. Children who are high performers will mentor younger students through tutoring programs set up and facilitated on-site at the school (UNICEF, n.d.).
In conclusion the strategy for rebuilding the Somali educational system is not an overnight process. It will be at least a 10 to 15 year plan. It will involve pursuing commission of public land where schools can be built on. It will involve engaging the Government including the Somalian President in partnership opportunities. It will require critical partnerships at every level including the United Way Worldwide. It will require learning from existing programs such as the Go to School Initiative and learning how to improve processes and systems. It involves being one critical part of a bigger process. Yet to see the joy in a child’s eye and the value they bring to the community that they are from will make the process well worthwhile.
AMISOM: African Union Mission in Somalia. (2014). Somali Peace Process. Retrieved from http://amisom-au.org/about-somalia/somali-peace-process/
BBC: News Africa. (2012, September 11). Hassan Sheikh Mohamud: Somalia’s new president profiled. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-19556383
Chitiyo, K., & Rader, A. (2012, April). Somalia 2012: Ending the Transition? Retrieved from http://www.thebrenthurstfoundation.org/files/brenthurst_commisioned_reports/Brenthurst-paper-201204-Somalia-2012-Ending-the-Transition.pdf
Foreign Credits. (2012). Education System in Somalia. Retrieved from http://www.classbase.com/countries/Somalia/Education-System
Ministry Of Education,Culture & Higher Education Somalia. (2013). Ministry of Education: The Federal Government of Somalia. Retrieved from http://moesomalia.net/english/
News Africa. (2012, August 21). Somalia Olympic runner 'drowns trying to reach Europe'. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-19323535
Regional Arab Network Against AIDS. (n.d.). Fundraising / Resource Mobilization Strategy. Retrieved from http://www.ranaa.net/new/images/Final_Fundraizing_Strategy_En.pdf
UNICEF. (n.d.). Go to School Initiative 2013-2016: Educating for Resilience. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/somalia/SOM_resources_gotoschool.pdf
Unicef. (n.d.). Education in Somalia. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/somalia/education_56.html
United Way Worldwide. (2014). South Africa. Retrieved from http://worldwide.unitedway.org/countries/south-africa
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