By:Abdirahman Ibrahim Abdilahi
Somalilandsun -Ministry of Education in Somaliland manages the outdated educational system in which students are without specializations after leaving secondary school. On the other hand, education in Somaliland began from pre-colonial times and growth for Somaliland education continued to educate for both girls and boys and has contributed to the growth of the state.
Moreover, school infrastructures were in short supply both in urban and rural areas as the majority of the current infrastructures were built at the time of British rule in Somaliland. The successive governments in the past failed to significantly expand school related infrastructures, so we need to expand and construct schools far and wide in response to the growing demand of the population.
Ministry of Education has no educational policy; it is a guiding principle but debatable issue among the educationists. The areas under an educational policy that are subject to debate are among others, class size, school choice, school privatization, teacher education, Alternative qualifications and certification, curricular content and the values that schools are expected to uphold and model.
The people in diasporas should draw their attention to school choices and find the best of education curricula in their respective areas that can be fruitful and are able to succeed in Somaliland. The ministry of education is required to encourage alternative qualifications as Somaliland does not have it and it should be made available in the country. Alternative qualifications have got curriculum and methods that are designed to provide education for people who are returning from diasporas and are interested to continue the education of the adopted country while the mother country. Alternative qualifications are only possible when qualified teachers and necessary materials are available. But it has to be maintained by other examination boards.
In addition, Somaliland government adopts a system of education, that is 8-4 which is primary and secondary school respectively. It can also be taken up 7–4–2 system that consisted primary, secondary and high school respectively. Many countries in the world carry out both systems to make wider choices of their people. The latter is more popular and effective than the former because students are prepared to take on specialization straight in any university in Somaliland or elsewhere without any upgrading requirement. Besides, Somaliland does not have the variety of school choices that are designed to meet the needs of the students.
On the contrary, educating nomads has proved to be a challenge, the ministry of education together with INGO made endeavors regarding feeding children for two meals a day to stop movement of children from one place to another in search for water and fodder for their livestock but it has not been effective. The only method that is proven to be successful is the establishment of Boarding schools which has been introduced at the time of British rule in the country mainly was to educate the children who live in the nomadic areas. It is effective and efficient in educating the children. Furthermore, payment for the teachers at all levels are not sufficient to make ends meet, thus it should be increased or else the ministry has no choice except for allowing them to restore fee that is used to pay for the schools before the president Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo took over the power. Even though, the country is enjoying with universities and plenty of schools little have libraries and laboratories and that is a bad sign for the education in the country. Ministry of education should come up with plans to enhance access to libraries and laboratories in each and every school and improvements of the quality of the teachers, curricula have to be enhanced. The parents and teachers and students are not working together to enhance the education of the students in that case the quality of the education has declined.
The commission for higher education is responsible for the evaluation, improvement, and promotion of Somaliland universities. The terms of reference of the concerned institution have to be included in enhancing research capacity, Improvements of the quality of the teachers, curricula of the universities. Therefore, the body should be independent from the influence of anybody in order to serve better for the people in this country.
The decline of Education in Somaliland
There are various factors that contribute to Somaliland’s poor performance in the education sector among these are included low level of private and public investment. The government is trying its level best to spend on education but the level of private sector substituting for the public is far less than demand. However, the role of the ministry of education in this sector is to encourage the private sector to invest model schools at primary, intermediate, secondary and university levels. Moreover, In Somaliland, the quality of education is in decline and that is due to the crowded classrooms, poor quality of teachers, lack of laboratories and libraries in the schools. Thus, in order to advance the education system in the country, the overall objective of education in this country should reduce the number of students in the classroom from the current 60-90 to 25 students per class. In addition, improvements in the quality of the teachers, curricula, and accessibility of library and laboratories are enhanced.
School related infrastructures are inadequate and are not sufficient to meet the demand of the growing populations. The other problem contributing to the decline of quality of education in Somaliland is qualified human resources are engaged in other jobs and business usually more beneficial than teaching in the local universities since payment of the local universities are not enough as a result the quality of education is being compromised. Had management and financial system of the universities were executed; money would have been available to pay qualified lecturers better than ever. On the other hand, it is also in the need of the hour to improve the quality of teachers by investing in them by way of quality training, payment increases onto satisfactory levels, rewarding and recognizing those who are effective and efficient. The government of Somaliland tacitly approved that each and every student has to pass the General Secondary School leaving Certificate simply to minimize the burden of emigration and that has helped education to decline. We need to let students for greater competition among themselves and good teachers to be rewarded whereas bad teachers to be dismissed.
What does the government do to help the decline of education?
The government should devote all available resources to facilitate the educational institutions for promoting quality education in the country. The ministry of education should try its level best to initiate libraries nearly in every school that may help to increase reading among the students as libraries are an essential component and a resource for learning. Both teachers and students need to use the library for improving their knowledge.
There is a need that the private sector is to engage in introducing a variety of the schooling system in addition to the Comprehensive school system, Grammar school system and selective school system. The differences in the intake of the schools mentioned above are on the basis of academic achievement, a particular type of students and prefer their own selection criteria. These are only just to name a view, any other system introduced by the private, and people in diasporas can improve the standards of the education in the country. All energies should be utilized to improve the quality of education both in the public and private sector, we need also to emphasize that special focus be given to promote professional and technical training which will have a favorable impact on the overall socioeconomic development of the country.
There is a need to expand the school infrastructure as the current schools are not adequate, local councils and private sectors, public sector and international aid organizations can build schools in this regard to alleviate the problem. Moreover, Boarding schools are the most appropriate and effective and efficient in educating the children in the rural areas especially where nomads are inhabited. The commission for higher education has to encourage, support and facilitate training programs, workshop and symposia and they have to arrange also funding, scholarships, text books and references for universities. The commission for higher education can also serve as a means through which universities acquire trainings, Strengthening research system, resources both from local and abroad and the provision of links both external and local universities.
Last but not the least, we need for the government to draw special attention on education by arranging a conference on education inviting Somaliland educationists in everywhere to review the current education system in the country and be made the necessary recommendations to improve the education.
Abdirahman Ibrahim Abdilahi