Somali government announces student scholarships aimed at doubling enrolment in public University
Mogadishu, 29 July 2017 - Somalia’s Federal Ministry of Education and Higher Studies will provide 1,000 scholarships to boost student enrolment at the country’s premier public university under a programme announced recently by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmaajo’.
The scholarships will be awarded in September at the start of the new academic year.
An estimated 1,400 students currently attend Somali National University, which reopened three years ago after the outbreak of the Somalia’s civil war forced its closure in 1991.
“This [scholarship initiative] will almost double the number of students that has been rising for the last three years. We have the opportunity to increase the intake by a thousand students and give them a free quality education,” said Education Minister Abdirahman Dahir Osman.
Recipients of the government scholarships will be identified through a selection process whose criteria will be set by the university. Eligible students must have completed their secondary education and sat for the Unified National Secondary Examinations.
The minister said the increased student enrolment will redefine the higher education sector, and he emphasized the need for a level playing field for all students wishing to enter the public university.
“The regions in Somalia vary in wealth, and we will take special measures to ensure regional students are accommodated, bearing in mind their financial status. Students from the regions currently comprise 60 per cent of all students enrolled at the national university,” he noted.
Hafsa Abshir Aden took her national secondary examinations in May and welcomed the announcement. “I felt very happy with the news of the scholarships. I am very grateful to the President and the government of Somalia.” she said.
A school leaver named Ismail Abdullahi Aden pointed out the resilience of Somali students, a trait he said had given them hope, even in the face of adversity. “Somali students have faced many challenges over the years, especially those in Mogadishu. Their schools were turned into battlefields and the effects of the war have left them with psychological scars. However, that did not stop the students from continuing with their education,” he stated.
The educator Abdiaziz Ahmed Ali also hailed the government’s decision to issue hundreds of new scholarships to students. The deputy director of the Irshad Centre for Intellectual Dialogue, Mr. Ali urged the government to allocate sufficient resources to accommodate the sharp increase in students at the National University.
“The public university has been admitting 300 students annually for the past three years, and sponsoring one thousand students this year is a step in the right direction,” he said.
“The measures should include employment of highly qualified teachers from both within the country and foreign teachers. (The government) should find the funds to run the scholarship programme and open new campuses to accommodate the new students while bearing in mind that this year’s intake is about to take place,” Mr. Ali added.
An estimated 23,000 students from 77 schools across the country sat for the Unified National Examinations for Secondary Schools in May, double the number who took the test in 2016, according to the Federal Ministry of Education and Higher Studies.
The examinations were held for the third consecutive year in Banadir region, Jubbaland, South West, Galmudug and HirShabelle states under the ministry’s supervision.
In addition to the scholarships initiative, the ministry has pledged to carry out major improvements in the education sector. “We have also succeeded in setting the curriculum framework. Later this year, we are planning to develop textbooks for the national curriculum,” Minister Osman stated.