The full Story:
http://www.safeeducation.org or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Building Schools in Somalia
My interest was ignited by an email from a student at City College of New York, following a speech I gave at the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies, on October 20, 2011:
“Dear Ambassador Price: My name is Hannah Wolf, we met at the City College of New York on Thursday, thank you for coming to visit with us and thank you for providing me with your contact information. It was a pleasure meeting you and listening to your lecture. As I mentioned, I am currently working with a non-profit organization called Somali and American Fund for Education (SAFE) that works on building and improving schools in Somalia. The organization is a 100% volunteer run organization by Somalis and Americans concerned about the future of Somalia.”
Hannah introduced me to Hodan Guled, the Founder and Managing Director of the “Somali and American Fund for Education” (SAFE). Hodan is very impressive and well informed on the need for classroom facilities in Somalia. After a presentation, the Price Family Foundation agreed to build classrooms at two schools located near Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland. We believe it is important to help the Somali children find a way forward through secular education. These young students will be the future leaders of Somalia! I had expressed security concerns building in some areas of the country. So we focus on Somaliland, the autonomous state in the northwest region of Somalia.
On April 2nd, 2012, I received an update from Hodan on the two school projects that were planned. She included photos of the existing classrooms, which tell a compelling story of the need for the new buildings.
“Dear Ambassador Price: I hope all is well with you and your family. We have been busy with the school certifications and I wanted to give you a quick update on the schools we selected for your funding. We are close to certifying the 2 schools; they are both within 35-50 km outside of Hargeisa; and you will be able to visit this summer when the construction is completed. They both have strong community support. Our staff visited the schools; attached are 2 pictures, one of each school. As you can see, the need for additional classrooms is tremendous and very much needed in these schools.
- School currently has 2 classrooms made of tents, built in 2008; the tent is now old and deteriorated; it is leaking water during the rainy season.
- Students of different grades learn in the same classroom; and students are split into morning and afternoon sessions.
- Your gift will be used to build 2 classrooms (29.5 ft. x 22.9 ft.)
It was in April 2007, when I first became acquainted with Mrs. Edna Adan Ismail the former foreign minister of Somaliland, when we both served on the International Republican Institute (IRI) election observation team in Nigeria. Mrs. Ismail was the wife of Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal, the former president of Somaliland. She was very gracious, allowing me an interview for my book “When the White House Calls”. I was so impressed by her compelling story about Somaliland, that I dedicated a chapter, “Somaliland: A case for Sovereignty”, to bring attention to this state’s desire to gain recognition by the United States, and the other countries at United Nations for independence, as a sovereign nation with full voting rights and privileges.
Somaliland since independence has proven that it can govern justly, respects human rights, rule of law, and invests in its people. Somaliland has established bilateral relations with several countries, but has yet to be formally recognized as a “sovereign nation” by the African Union. It has a population of 3.5 million people, and is more populated than fifteen other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Its landmass is bigger than seventeen of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Most importantly Somaliland is a stable democracy, and not a failed state like its parent Somalia. Somaliland is a compelling story for Washington decision-makers to better understand.
It was in 1991 when the warlord clans overthrew the dictator Siad Barre. Shortly thereafter the U.S. closed its embassy in Mogadishu. At that point we lost the opportunity to bring the secular and Islamic warlords together, to help guide them through a democratic process. Hence the roots of democracy did not take hold. Soon thereafter the warlords were fighting each other, for control of the country. This opened the door for al-Qaeda to support the Islamic Courts Union amalgamation. Fighting and chaos in Somalia has continued unabated for the last twenty years, with only modest gains of stability in parts of the country. Meanwhile, thousands of people have been killed and displaced; the Somali Diaspora continuing to need humanitarian assistance.
In Somaliland, over the years, there has been an emphasis on good governance, education and healthcare. Two universities have been built, and the Edna Adan Hospital in Hargeisa. However, there is still a great need for more classroom buildings, especially in the outlying villages.
“Education is essential to the process of promoting democracy, peace, tolerance and human development around the world”. There is a great need to provide secular education throughout Somalia. Classrooms and trained teachers are desperately needed, as are books and basic school supplies. I was glad to hear that the SAFE organization was going to receive additional corporate grants for their education programs. Security however will need to be addressed, so that school buildings can be built safely, and students can attend classes without fear.
If this generation of Somali children is to find hope for the future, there will need to be an emphasis placed on basic education. Sustainable economic development, job creation, adequate agriculture production, healthcare improvements, and infrastructure projects will have to follow, if Somalia wants to share in the global economy. Without education, most of the needed achievements for success may not happen. We look forward to being part of SAFE’s school building program in Somalia.
Further articles on education in Somalia:
UNICEF Somalia – Education – Issue
“Somalia has one of the lowest primary school enrolment rates in the world.”
“Education and formal classroom learning opportunities are limited and unavailable for a majority of children in Somalia. [A] total enrollment of children representing 19.9 per cent…. This places Somalia among the lowest enrollment rates in the world.”
“Gender-related disparities remain an area of major concern. The survey results revealed that only slightly over one third, or 37 per cent, of pupils are girls at the lower primary school levels.”
The full story: http://www.unicef.org/somalia/education.html
Education: A Global Perspective
“More than one in ten children living in the developing world never gets the chance to go to school.”
“Access to education is not only a fundamental human right, but also a key factor in reducing poverty and child labor. If every child left school with basic reading skills…[they] could be lifted out of poverty. Education is also essential to the process of promoting democracy, peace, tolerance and human development around the world.”
“Seventy percent of the children not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa…. Hope is fading for the Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal education by 2015.”