Somali Educators: Ineffective Role Since Recent Social Changes

By Mohamed Abdullahi Abubakar (Dhaaley)

Although Somalia has experienced political instability resulting from the civil war throughout the past two decades, the country’s situation is changing as the government lead by His Excellency Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is directing much needed projects to rebuild the state and regain stability.

Benefiting from the ongoing developmental projects, education has been given a chance to develop after being adversely influenced by insecurity throughout the country. And today, we have thousands of secondary schools and hundreds of universities in Somalia, as well as many other educational institutions, most of which are owned by private individuals. Among those universities, Somali National University is the sole public owned university, which reopened recently, after being closed since the collapse of the former Somali military regime in the early 1990s.

If we compare the number of Somali students at all educational levels today to those of the past, we find that the citizens of this country have decided to make numerous changes from their past conflict-based environment. The people realized that through the path of education, they can shape their own peaceful and progressive future life.

This new culture of establishing and empowering education has provided the Somali people with a large number of educated people from both undergraduate and post-graduate studies inside the country or from overseas.

education in somalia
Improving education in Somalia

Although we have these positive things in a country like Somalia, which was said to be the most dangerous state in the world over the past few years, the role of educators helping improve the social situation in the country is still missing.

In the opinion of some Somali educators, some reasons that are causing educated Somali people to fail in exposing their potential to help society are the following:

Tribalism: Somali people have been divided into clans fighting among themselves. They adapted to the culture of tribalism by making it the base of their life objectives. Every clan has its special objectives and targets, which may sometimes clash with the objectives of other clans.

The clan leaders are the most powerful influencers in their societies as they give guidance and instructions to everybody who belongs to the clan, and among those are educators who belong to the clan.

There is a Somali proverb which says roughly translated “The Cleric or the Sheikh shouldn’t be straight if his clan is not so.” This reflects the clan-based culture that we practice in Somalia, which leads educators to obey only the instructions of their clan leaders rather than using all their instructive ideas and knowledge that they gained from their education.

Many educators thought that they were only responsible for their clan, instead of thinking of the social responsibility and the national issues as a whole. They were not ready to revive their country after years of destruction and wars.

Appearing educated while behaving ignorantly: This is another problem facing the Somali educated people that weakens their education and makes them less productive for society.

The cause of lacking fruitful actions by the Somali educators in favor of only their clan is the habit of appearing like educators while behaving like ignorant people. Some think that being educated is just like wearing new clothes which gives you esteem and makes you respected by society. However, they forgot that education has its special behavior that should be learned and practiced by the people who are going to be called educators.

Hence, Somalia needs educated people who know the meaning of education very well in order to change this behavior of using education as clothes to make a better appearance regardless of the behavior of the person who wears these clothes. If we do not get our educators to see the whole picture, our education would be under the control of ignorance.

The people must work to help the government and educators to realise this is a problem, so it can be changed quickly before too much time passes.