Kristian Buus/STARS



Somaliland: Keep Ideology Out of K–12 Education

Intense ideological competition is going on in Somaliland’s education system. The competition involves all tiers of education, without exception. Multiple Middle Eastern individuals and Islamic charitable organizations are trying hard to produce a generation bearing the Wahabi ideological flag. So far they are, by and large, succeeding in producing a wave of cohorts who are ideologically thwarted having fully absorbed the principles of Wahhabism. Furthermore, it is certain that such a generation is susceptible, and can easily fall prey to radical organizations and extremist groups.

In Somaliland, when the civil war broke out in the 1990’s, the educational infrastructure collapsed. Private educators and Middle Eastern charitable organizations filled the vacuum with various ideological and educational objectives. In post-war, Somaliland, from 1994 onwards, the state tried to revive the collapsed educational system with help from the United Nations (UN) and international organizations. The national curriculum has been revised a couple of times with the help of UN agencies, such as the United Nations Education, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Parallel to state education, private education blossomed and even out-competed state education by getting funding from international charitable foundations, mainly from countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Yemen.

Private education mainly employed the curriculum of the funding country and the school reflected the name of the funding country. Hence, Somaliland now has Qatari schools, Bahrain schools, Turkish schools and Sudanese schools. Various curricula are being employed in the nation. Standing parallel to the national curriculum, this bizarre approach to education has produced students and graduates with different thinking and outlooks. As a result, students’ appreciation of mutual understanding and communality is all the more difficult.

Weak supervision by educational authorities in Somaliland has resulted in self-governing education empires. The worst of the cases is the remotely-guided Wahabi educational institutions that are prevalent in the country. The people in charge of the educational system are weak in character and are not sufficiently educated to review, monitor and evaluate the various curricula operating in the country. That is exactly why private education with foreign funding overwhelmed them and made them puppets.

The case is no different at the level of tertiary education. Of course, the magnitude is not the same. But the problem prevails in the various higher education institutions of Somaliland. The tertiary curriculum is diverse. Amazingly, one can even find higher education institutions providing education from international curricula.

Finding curricula from the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Canada is possible in Somaliland. There seems to be no understanding on the part of the educational authorities that such diversity brings problems to the labor market and the whole economy. Nobody seems to care about the impact the improperly diverse educational system could have on social harmony and economic development. But, as a matter of fact, there are signs that problems related to a diverse curriculum, such as lack of communal understanding, eroding social cohesion, lagging development and risks to stability are growing in our country.

Indeed, Somaliland needs to install and implement a comprehensive educational supervision regime. Educational authorities should have a close eye on what is going on in some private educational establishments. They should do their best to prevent radicalization. As such, there is a need for an urgent review of the curriculum the private educational system is employing. Furthermore, parents should be aware of the need to check what their children are taught in schools.