Somalia unversities up their game

A graduadand receives his degree in Mogadishu last week.  PHOTO | ABDULKADIR KHALIF.

After years of instability, Somalia is experiencing some relative calm and surge in demand for better quality services.

This has forced service providers to innovate, sometimes within very tight budgets.

In the education sector, most of the universities- in a country where higher education is in the hands of the private sector- are turning to their regional peers for support.

Last Tuesday, July 23, Simad University, one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the Somalia capital Mogadishu, concluded a week-long seminar.

Jointly organised with Uganda’s Makarere University, the event laid a strong foubndation for a future relationship.

At the symbolic event, lecturers from Makarere University Business School (MUBS) delivered a lecture to signal the beginning of collaboration between the two institutions signed earlier in March.

“The main aim of the colloquium was to review the curriculum of (Simad) University, upgrading its examination system and inducing effective teaching,” read a joint statement issued at the end of the meeting.

The report explained that the two universities will continue to share their experiences in curriculum formulation and teaching methodologies.

During the meeting held at Simad University Centre for Postgraduate Studies, local officials emphasised the importance of the collaboration.

Simad’s acting president Abdurahman Mohamed Anas was quick to note that his institution was compelled to seek international standards. “Consistent external benchmarking is our target,” said Mr. Anas.

Dr Mohamed Ngoma who led MUBS mission appreciated the advances made by the Somali institution. “Simad University has more experience and resources than some higher education institutions in Uganda,” said Dr Ngoma.

The two universities will especially cooperate in the postgraduate area.

On July 22, another educational event took place in Mogadishu.

New relationships

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) of Kenya together with Somalia University in Mogadishu announced an agreement reached by the two institutions in Mogadishu.

Mr Antony Kiswii, JKUAT’s Registrar, who led the delegation, stated that the collaboration scheme was meant to expose Somalia students to postgraduate studies offered at JKUAT.

“Exchange of teaching stuffs will facilitate a joint offering of courses leading to master degrees,” remarked Mr. Kiswi.

JKUAT delegation inspected the facilities of Somalia University including the institution’s central laboratory.

Mohamed Abdiweli Sheikh Yusuf, the Rector of Somalia University, said, “The accord we reached with Jomo Kenyatta University will have multiple benefits for our students.”

A number of other Somalia colleges have also entered into relationships other universities in the East Africa region.

In March this year, 19 Somali students received Masters Degrees from Kampala University.

Nine of the graduands studied from Somalia capital, Mogadishu, while the rest 10 received their tuition and graduation in Hargaisa, 1500 km northwest of Mogadishu, the capital of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland.

The Kampala University’s postgraduate programme was hosted by Hope University which has campuses in several Somalia towns.

Prof Najib Sheikh Abdikarim, the Rector of Hope University, confirmed that Somalia students are pursuing distance learning classes from Kampala University from the country.

“This is the second batch of Somali students attaining Masters Degrees from Kampala University from home,” remarked Rector Abdikarim. “It was a challenge for both the teaching staff and the students,” he added.

Mr Hassan Mohamed Hussein, one of the graduands, was extremely happy with their lessons.

“We specialised in Development Studies,” said Mr Hussein, wearing a graduation gown and the typical square academic cap, as he posed for a group photo together with other 8 newly graduates.

Speaker of Somalia Parliament, Prof Mohamed Osman who attended the graduation was happy to witness 120 students graduating this year from Kampala University. Some 19 in the group were Somalis based in their own country.

“The federal parliament needs researchers and we are confident that many students graduating from local institutions will fill many positions,” stated Prof Jawari.

The Rector announced that from next year, Hope University in conjunction with Kampala University will offer 10 full scholarships.

“The scholarship scheme will be named after Prof Jawari (the speaker of the parliament),” remarked the rector.

According to Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology web site, Speaker Jawari received the Kenyan academicians at his national assembly office in Mogadishu on July 22. “He invited JKUAT to play an active role in helping rebuild his country’s (Somalia) education sector,” reported the website. 

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