Somaliland: Abaarso Tech castigates Education Ministry of Unethical Procedures


Mr Starr with AT beneficiaries/fileBy: Yusuf M Hasan

HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The Abaarso Tech Institute has apologized to Somaliland students who were to sit for an entry examination.

The apologies were extended by Abaarso Tech’s Co-Founder & Managing Director Mr. Jonathan Starr during an interview with Somalilandsun in Hargeisa where he informed that the failure to conduct entry examinations for 280 students in Burao was occasioned by unethical procedures undertaken by the ministry of education-MOE.

The youthful American philanthropist who said that the institute is pursuing avenues to ensure that the 280 interested students who were from as far as Erigavo town in Sanaag region sit for entry exams also decried the handling of the incident by the Ministry of education.

Said he, “We are very embarrassed by the actions of police officers who acting on MOE orders utilized brutal force to disrupt entry examinations in Burao”

On the 6th August 2012 Burao police disrupted entry exams after they stormed the hall where the 280 students from Togdheer, Sahil, Sool and Sanaag regions who had successfully fulfilled all Abaarso tech had assembly to sit the exams.

The police say their action came after information from the ministry of Education to the effect that the entry examinations were illegal as the Abaarso Tech-AT management had not cleared the issue with the MOE.

According to the AT managing director this accusation is absurd as the MOE had provided its approval following a letter of request from AT, said he, “We have an official approval letter from the MOE duly signed and stamped by the Director General on 15th April”

The MOE letter of approval which was availed Somalilandsun states, following a request from Abaarso Tech Trustees and Management, the MOE has allowed the AT to conduct entry exams for prospective students before final year exams are computed. Follow this link to view the official letter follow this link

The AT management which claims that Ministry of Education is accusing it of attacking the government of Somaliland wants the MOE to accept it has blundered thus apologize to the institute, the 280 students and parents. Suspicious manner its activities were legal

“”why should the education minister accuse the AT of breaking rules while documentary evidence prove that the AT acted legal” Said Mr. Starr

While documentary evidence provided by Mr. Jonathan Starr detailing the whole saga (see below) proves that the AT acted with official acquiescence they also indicate that different departments and offices in the Ministry of Education are not working in Harmony.

With matters deteriorating at a fast pace the AT management is considering shifting its never ending flow of dollars to another country where education officials act ethically and respect agreements.

Since inception three years ago the Ultra-Modern Abaarso Tech situated in Abaarso in Gabile region has managed to not only provide quality technical education but secured American and South African university scholarships to Somaliland students, a feat that hasn’t happened in Somaliland for decades.

Though the Abaarso Tech desires to continue providing its education related development support to Somalilanders there are very many needy children in other parts of the world thus strategizes to shift camp if the Ministry of education does not stop ongoing negative campaigns.

According Mr. Jonathan Starr the AT Co-founder and Managing director, reasons behind the MOE’s anti Abaarso Tech activities are related to his refusal to loan an extra $100,000 on top of earlier one of $171,626 whose refund date is already in default.

The AT managing Director believes that the MOE should not persecute needy Somaliland students in its quest to punish him personally.

Said he, “I have contributed hundreds of thousands in US dollars to Abaarso tech from my personal coffers and willing to contribute more but

The following outlines the events leading up to and through the AT

Entry examination in Burao

1) On April 15th the DG of Education signs and stamps a letter

Approving AT to give its entry examinations anytime it wants. Proof:

This document is attached.

2) On April 20th the DG goes back on this agreement in an email to

Jonathan Starr. However, Jonathan Starr responds to the DG that any

Official change to the DG’s letter should be made in writing. The DG

Responds “of course I will do that in writing for you.” Proof: This

email correspondence is attached.

3) This official letter new letter “in writing for” AT was never sent

to AT. Proof: The MOE is not even claiming a new letter was sent.

There is no question that AT never received a new letter.

4) While no new letter was sent replacing the DG’s initial approval,

Abaarso Tech wanted to do everything properly so it sent Harry Lee,

Nura Gureh and Hassan Jama to meet with the Minister of Education.

The Minister explained to these 3 respected individuals that the head

of the examination board, Daud, had objected to the agreement but if

Daud would now agree, then the Minister would be fine again approving

The agreement. Harry, Nura and Hassan then went to Daud and Daud

Agreed to let the examinations happen whenever AT wanted so long as

Any student accepted who later was found to fail the national exam

Would then be removed from AT. AT fully accepted this arrangement.

Proof: Testimony of Harry Lee, Nura Gureh, and Hassan Jama.

5) Harry brought a new letter for the Minister to sign so as to

Reinforce the old letter. After time went by without response, Harry

Followed up with the DG who told Harry “the letter has accidently been

Lost.” Harry and other AT staff brought 2 more letters to the DG over

The following weeks only to twice more have the DG declare that “the

Letter has accidently been lost.” Proof: Testimony of Harry Lee and

Lindsay Moore.

6) Three days before the entry examination, AT student Suleikha

Mohamed Hashi reports that her mother, Amran Ali, saw Daud and Daud

Told her that he knows we are giving the exam in Burao and he has the

List of students who took the 8th grade exit exam ready so that AT can

Check that the students were 8th graders after the entry examination

Is complete. This clearly shows that Daud was accepting the

Examination. Proof: Testimony of Amran Ali and Suleikha Mohamed


7) With the original letter in hand, the DG clearly saying that the

Minister planned to sign a new positive letter, oral approval from the

Minister and head of the examination board in front of 2 respected

Somalis, and continued clear approval from Daud, AT went to Burao to

Give the entry examination thinking it had the full MOE support.

8) On examination day, the Minister of Education called Burao to block

The examination. This left 280 registered students sitting in the hot

Sun for hours while fasting. Later these students were chased away by

armed guards. The leaders of Burao then met with the DG of Education

but the DG snuck out of the meeting without telling them he was

leaving and drove back to Hargeisa. The Minister of Education then

declared that AT was giving an illegal exam and that AT was trying to

start a riot. This is despite AT not being aware of a single Burao

student or resident taking a single violent action. That night police

came to hotels to look for AT’s staff in Burao. The next day police

deported AT’s staff back to Hargeisa. Proof: Testimony of AT staff

plus countless Burao students, hotel owners and officials.

Conclusion: First the Ministry’s unethically interfered with the

examination after giving AT every reason to believe it was approved.

Far worse, the MOE put AT staff at risk and greatly insulted them with

their ungrounded claim that AT was inciting a riot. This lie puts

AT’s foreign staff in physical danger from police and others who might

believe the lie.

Sadly, this is just the latest in a long series of events in which the

Ministry of Education has broken all ethical standards to damage AT in

favor of special interests. Even more shocking, the MOE has done this

while requesting Jonathan Starr to fund yet another $100,000 of his

personal money to support AT. It seems that the Ministry of Education

believes that AT staff will continue to put considerable time and

money into Somaliland no matter how the Ministry behaves. The

Ministry is very wrong about this and the Burao examination was the

last straw that we were willing to take.

There are many needy children around the world and AT has proven that

it can be extremely effective in educating them. In fact, in just 3

years AT has been able to get American and South African scholarships

for its students, a feat that hasn’t happened in Somaliland for

decades. AT would have been happy to work to make Abaarso Tech the

best school in Africa, however, since Somaliland’s Ministry of

Education has proven its desire to unethically attack AT, we will

simply move to a more friendly country.

Abaarso Tech Management