This work has centred on understanding the dynamics of international, national and local priorities in education, and the extent to which these are compatible. Of particular interest is the degree to which international peacebuilding education frameworks, as well as global theories of peacebuilding education, can be applied to the analysis of education as a stabilising or destabilising force in Somaliland.
There has been significant investment by the international community in the Somali education sector, while Somali communities and the diaspora are a key source of support to Government Ministries. Much of the formal education budget comes from the EU, DFID, USAID, DANIDA, the Norwegian Embassy, Turkey, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), and the Government of the Netherlands (Ministry of Human Development and Public Services, Directorate of Education, 2013, p. 25). International influences have meant that the language of human rights and Education for All feature prominently in the strategic development agendas of all Somali zonal administrations. In practice, many Somalis also rely on remittances from relatives abroad to pay school fees, though by no means all have access to relatives abroad (Hoehne, 2010, p. 11).
Somali educational priorities are determined by Ministerial policies in the three zones, as well as by the Somali Compact for 2014-2016, which establishes broader humanitarian and development pathways. The Compact is the result of a prolonged consultative process between the international community and the Federal Government of Somalia. It acknowledges that a key component of building peace in the region will entail generating ‘opportunities for young people that are positive alternatives to participating in violence and conflict’, including education and employment. It determines that a lack of education among Somali youth has contributed to the emergence of young people as ‘major actors in conflict, constituting the bulk of participants in militias and criminal gangs, including Al-Shabaab’ (Federal Republic of Somalia, 2013, p. 9). Therefore, the links between education and peacebuilding are well established in Somali Federal policy. IOE and IPCS hope to build upon these connections, while taking into consideration unique Somali understandings of peace and security. It is clear so far that in Somali society conceptions of peace are tied in with identity, Islam, social justice and citizenship: each of which needs to be considered when planning in the education sector. It is also clear, however, that little progress in terms of peacebuilding education can be achieved without more complete and equitable provision of schooling across South Central, Puntland and Somaliland.
In light of problems relating to educational access, UNICEF and UNESCO have concentrated their interventions since 1993 on; providing children with curricula and textbooks due to widespread shortages of teaching materials; training teachers in cooperation with local authorities to rebuild capacity; establishing Community Education Committees (CECs) and supervising them as well as teachers; rehabilitating school facilities; and supporting the development of Educational Management Information Systems (Williams & Cummings, 2015). Local NGOs have also been engaged in the educational recovery process. Potentially, this could be having a peacebuilding impact, but not enough data is available to quantify a connection.
As institutions of higher learning, IOE and IPCS are especially concerned as part of their research in understanding what role universities can play in this context. Of course, many Somali universities were established only very recently. Current estimates suggest that there are close to 50 higher education institutions, and that the vast majority of these were established between 2004 and 2012 (Heritage Institute, 2013). The territory’s largest universities are making progress in building the linkages between peacebuilding and education. The University of Mogadishu’s mission is to ‘educate and nurture creative generations committed to peace, good governance and community services’ (Mogadishu University, 2015). Amoud University in Boroma, meanwhile, is working more explicitly in the field of peace education through its Faculty of Education, by working to establish education programmes to promote a culture of peace, dialogue, democracy and indigenous knowledge (Amoud University, 2016). Indigenous knowledge, and particularly indigenous peace-making, also feature in taught programmes at the University of Hargeisa (University of Hargeisa, 2011). This indicates that Somali universities prioritise teaching peacebuilding processes that aim to harmonise modern peacebuilding techniques with customary peacebuilding and conflict resolution mechanisms. These lessons are transferred through both solid theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge and skills, with universities using a range of teaching methods, such as lectures and seminars, as well as case studies, and advanced role-play and simulation techniques.
While Somali society faces significant and diverse challenges in improving the quality, capacity and reach of their education sector, educational coverage is increasing and Ministerial curricula have established clear priorities to effectively frame their programming. Support is needed from the international community to complete this process, but it is important that international educational priorities and normative values not overshadow progress made in contextualising and increasing the relevance of the education sector for the Somali context.
About the Author
Alexandra Lewis is a Teaching Fellow at the Institute of Education, University College London.
Amoud University. (2016). Faculty of Education. Retrieved April 29, 2016, from Amoud University: A Vehicle for Peace & Development: http://amouduniversity.org/faculty-of-education
Federal Republic of Somalia. (2013). The Somali Compact. Mogadishu: The Federal Republic of Somalia.
Heritage Institute. (2013). The State of Higher Education in Somalia: Privatisation, Rapid Growth and the Need for Regulation. Mogadishu: Heritage Institute for Policy Studies.
Hoehne, M. V. (2010). Diasporic engagement in the educational sector in post-conflict Somaliland: A contribution to peacebuilding? Jyväskylän: Diaspeace.
Mogadishu University. (2015). Vision & Mission. Retrieved April 29, 2016, from Mogadishu University: http://mu.edu.so/vision-mission/
Williams, J. H., & Cummings, W. C. (2015). Education from the Bottom Up: UNICEF’s Education Programme in Somalia. International Peacekeeping, 22(4), 419-434.