By: Guled Ahmed Hashi
Since Somaliland re-asserted its independence from Somalia in 1991, the private school sector played an important role in education in Somaliland. In the early 90s and 2000s, Arabic based schools (Maca-hid) were the leading educational facilities in Somaliland whereby girls and boys often separated to study in different shifts. Boys often taught in the morning, while girls taught in the afternoon.
In the contrast, Somaliland public schools often have a mixed class-rooms where class contains both s girls and boys or being taught in the same class.
Over the past 15 years, there has been an increase in English curriculum schools, who also often separate boys and girls. This is often characterized by having different school buildings. This strategy is welcomed by most parents of the pupils, as they believe that this will help improve the behavior and education of their children at school. As the private schools are more profit oriented, they tend to promote and abide by this gender separation system to attract the parents to enroll their children to school. Today in Hargeisa, most of the private schools, if not all, are separated by girls and boys.
The separation of students by gender at private schools has had an impact on the public schools in Hargeisa, who have now started to separate some of their classes. This is evident at schools who have excess rooms and facilities at their schools. For the last five years, I have been working on education related research projects focusing on the challenges faced by girls at schools in Somaliland and Somalia. Under these initiatives, I have visited different regions in Somaliland (Marodijeh, Awdal, Gabilay and Sanaag) and conducted studies on the conditions and challenges at these schools. Through these observations, head teachers have stated that these separations at the classrooms is for the betterment of girls in order for them to have the confidence to ask teachers and it’s a much better suited environment for them to learn. It has been stated that girls have their specific needs and by separating them would make these girls a lot more comfortable at school.
If the parents, teachers and head teachers all argue that this separation will increase the confidence level of girls at primary and secondary school, how will these girls be able to adapt once they enter mixed universities and workplaces in the future? Whilst it can be argued that the separation may have a positive impact in the short term, greater challenges could emerge in the future. At university, there are a lot more requirements for collaborations amongst students for presentations and discussions. It can be argued that if a female student hasn’t been exposed to presenting in front of male counterparts at school level, that this can hinder her performance at university and workplace level. This also brings the question of how much of an impact this separation at school level has on the ability for the women to compete at the workspace with her male colleagues. Also, with a high percentage of decision-making positions held by men, how much does this lack of interaction at school level impact her ability to work alongside her male counterparts?
I believe that it is necessary for the Ministry of Education and academic institutions to research this topic deeply and investigate the positive and negative impacts of this area. As the actions of today has a huge impact on the future of the next generations, it is essential to determine whether these practices at school level is for the greater good of the education of the students and workers of the future. This topic is an area that lacks research in the Somaliland context and requires significant study to be incorporated in the educational strategy and policies in Somaliland.
Guled Ahmed Hashi is qualitative research expert, MEAL Officer. Mr Hashi have been involving monitoring and evaluations for the last 9 years Mr. Hashi holds a Bachelor’s in Business administration and master of international Development. Published a research paper and tremendous articles, he is the Author of Hubsiimo Book, advocator for girl’s education, he is social activist