First Time in 23 Years, Students Attend Classes At Somali University

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Al shabaabMogadishu — The first cohort of students in more than 23 years has begun classes at the Somali National University (SNU), heralding a new era of public education in Somalia, stakeholders say.

Students were welcomed Saturday (October 11th) at the university’s original first building in Mogadishu’s Hamar Weyne district, said SNU President Mohamed Ahmed Jimale.

“The university has now started operating in the original building where the university was first established in 1969. It has been re-built and re-equipped by the government of Bahrain,” he told Sabahi. “The building consists of 17 classrooms, an administrative office, 22 small offices and a large library.”

SNU will initially offer degrees in the departments of medicine, economics, law, education, agriculture, and veterinary medicine and animal husbandry, Jimale said.

Accepted students will be able to attend the state-owned school for free with the exception of an annual fee of $250 for medicine, $160 for economics, law, agriculture, veterinary medicine and animal husbandry, and $100 for education.

There are also plans to re-build six university-owned properties in Benadir region and Afgoye so that all the academic departments the university offered before the civil war can be re-established, Jimale said, without giving a specific timeframe for when the plans will be completed.

For the first term, the university admitted 375 students who graduated from high school and passed the university’s placement exam, Jimale said, adding that students will take preparatory courses for six months to help strengthen their skills in languages and other subjects.

He said the six departments currently in operation will conduct lessons in English, but in the future all departments will offer instruction also in Somali, Arabic, and Italian in accordance with university rules.

SNU’s deputy academic chairman Adam Guled Shabel said each university department will use revamped and updated versions of previous curriculums to ensure students are prepared for today’s job market.

“We reformed the university’s previous curriculums, which were worked on by [education] experts and we then issued modern curriculums for our people,” he told Sabahi.

Looking toward a better future:

When the university was first established, its main goals were to produce professionals that could achieve the country’s development goals, to compete with and attain the same technological advancements achieved in other countries, and for the university to be a source of knowledge that could help guide and counsel the country’s leadership, said Jimale.

These goals were be attained by sponsoring national studies, holding conferences at the national and international level, and issuing recommendations to address key national issues, he told Sabahi, adding that the university will continue to aim for those same goals.

At an event to welcome accepted students October 7th, Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Osman Jawari said SNU has played an important role for the Somali people and urged the new students to take advantage of the opportunity they have received.

“The university was the nation’s source of knowledge and research,” he said, also announcing that he will be one of the lecturers in the law department.

When the university was in operation before the civil war, SNU students prepared important national initiatives that were approved by the parliament, Jawari said. He mentioned the rural literacy campaign, which was an educational programme to teach rural people how to read and write the Somali language. He said the programme was designed by university students and implemented by the government.

Moving forward, Jawari said, SNU students will conduct and produce research that will help develop and modernise the nation.

Admitted students thankful, hopeful:

Mohamed Adam Omar, a 19-year-old who was accepted into the agriculture department, told Sabahi he feels fortunate to have the opportunity to receive a free education.

“I am very happy to be among the first students who will restart Somali National University after 23 years, and especially to attend without charge,” he said. “The Somali National University has a good reputation in the world, and it has produced graduates who are famous and well respected within our country. That will be an encouragement for me.”

Omar also said he was very hopeful that he and his fellow students will contribute to the country’s development, especially after he graduates with a degree in agriculture, which constitutes a major part of the country’s economy.

“I believe that everywhere in Somalia can be made into a farm and can be used to produce crops,” he said. “I hope that after some time our nation will be able to produce enough resources for the country as well as some to export.”

Likewise, accepted student Safa Ahmed Elmi, 18, said she plans to join the medical school.

“I will get [a degree in] medicine for free, and I am very happy about that,” she told Sabahi. “I went to become a gynaecologist so that I can provide free assistance to Somali women.”

Elmi said that after she graduates she also wants to help other students by becoming an instructor.

-allafrica.com/

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