Executive Summary and Recommendations
The main purpose I have penned this article pertaining to the Universities in Somaliland is that I have been moved by in the wake of seeing hundreds of university graduates churned out day in day out by the multitude universities in the country, which their quality is highly questionable at the best, and that they are understandably established nothing short of commercial purpose. The bogus universities are capitalising on the desperate need for universities by the students shown enthusiasm about pursuing their higher education with these universities.
The universities are seemingly untrammelled by the rules and the regulations of the government, and that there is inability on the part of incumbent dispensation to streamline and regulate the upsurge of the universities euphemism for commercial entities.
The educational institutions specifically the universities are staunchly mushrooming in recent years throughout Somaliland. In the capital city of Somaliland, Hargeisa, alone there are large number of private universities chiefly run by the citizens of the country; the authorities of these universities are hell bent on how to commercialise the higher education system in the country by making capital out of the blissful ignorance coupled with the wants for universities, and colleges by the country’s freshly Secondary school graduates, who diametrically keen on pursuing their higher studies with these bogus universities.
The newly Secondary school graduates have no option, but to join one of these phony universities established for commercial purpose; the students are kept in a blissful ignorance by the authorities of the universities, whilst the quality education of the universities is highly questionable at the best .
The increasing of the private universities in Somaliland reminds me of the gone days I had been an English teacher in Hargeisa, whereby private English institutions were instituted in every nook and cranny in the country in haphazard manner. By that time the government institutions have not been fully fledged, and there was markedly inability on the part of the respective government agency to check the quality education, and the rise of the English private schools as the government of the gone days has been busy with nation – building .
The erstwhile dispensation of late President Egal had been obsessed with nation-building, and the other key infrastructures of his government, which were nonexistent. It was the responsibility of the successive administrations led by President Riyale and President Siilaanyo to come up with strategy to streamline the rise of the universities.
Universities are for namesake
Needless to say, university is the highest educational institution that provides the highest studies in any country on the face of earth as per this operational definition, the universities in the country have failed to fall under this benchmark or yardstick as they do not have defined syllabi, reference textbooks, libraries; students are not given seminars, presentations or assignments by their lecturers.
There is also a dearth of seasoned teaching staff, who can professionally handle their respective papers assigned to them. Similarly, they do not have a board of examinations, or examiners, who designs the exams of the various departments of the university to take place in a synchronised fashion. As of now, each and every lecturer of the universities in the country corrects his exams for his respective paper – and there is likelihood that this could trigger a trust deficit between the students and the lecturer of the University for correcting his paper in haphazard manner.
It is worth noting that the universities in Somaliland do not professionally maintain students’ academic records, which would help the administration of the universities to easily keep track of the students’ academic performances. Moreover, the educational backgrounds of the students enrolled in the universities are not traced or verified prior to their enrolment, but they are simply admitted to the course for which they show enthusiasm about it. Also, there is no continuity of the teaching staff at the universities each semester one lecturer leaves, whilst new one comes to handle the former’s paper, and this brings about confusion to the students.
Absence of Government rules and regulations towards curbing of the mushrooming Universities
The current dispensation led by President Ahmed Siilaanyo of Somaliland, and its previous administration of President Riyale – have turned blind eye to check and improve the quality education of the mushrooming private universities being set up in a haphazard fashion by money minded people, whose sole purpose is nothing but to commercialise the higher education of the country by capitalising on the desperate need for universities by the public.
Going by his political manifesto, while he has been in the opposition, President Siilaanyo in the recent past formed a Commission dedicated for higher education in the country headed by one of his cabinet ministers, who himself busy with the activities of his portfolio. The Commission for higher education is either ignorant about their job description in toto or they have wilfully overlooked of curbing the bogus universities increasingly mushrooming in the country.
The so called Commission for higher education established by President Siilanyo of Somaliland had made no effort of any sorts to end the commercialisation of education which has turned it from the universities into a business ever since its inception. The principal aim for which this Commission has been set up is not yet known to the public at the large, and the people of Somaliland are still wondering the chief objective behind its formation. The increasing of the universities and the paucity of rules and regulations on the part of the current dispensation towards the universities to streamline clearly indicates that Siilaanyo administration is not bothering about the progress of the entire education system of the country. President Siilanyo appointed umpteen commissions ever since he came to power none of these commissions are not effectively functioning as is expected but remained on paper.
The education Ministry is unfazed by the upsurge of the Universities.
The education ministry is one the chief government agencies, which is said to be in charge of the educational institutions of the country, be the privately owned institutes, and that of the public. However, the right thinking citizens contend that the education ministry is seemingly unfazed by the upsurge of the phoney universities and that it dropped off the radar how to regulate the universities euphemism for commercial entities.
The relations between the ministry and that of the universities is diametrically low key as this markedly indicates the education ministry of Somaliland is beyond its ability to monitor and oversee the surge of the universities in the country. And its presence is only felt while there are graduation bashes at the universities.
In conclusion, if the incumbent dispensation of President Siilaanyo does not step in to restricting the growing universities in Somaliland meant for commercialisation of education in which their quality is highly questionable at the best – the entire country will be awashed with bogus universities, which will be untrammelled by the rules and the regulations of the ministry of education of Somaliland.
Recommendations To the Government
- Demonstrate a genuine commitment to quality education of the entire universities in the country, and at the same time keep track of their upsurge.
- Introduce legislation regulating the privately owned universities, and also make sure that the universities in the country fully comply with the legislation.
- Provide teaching training to all teaching staff of the various universities prevailing in the country.
- Initiate an independent review of the syllabi of the universities.
- Introduce legislation spelling out criteria for how to become assistant professor, associate professor and professorship.
- Establish a commission that assess the quality of the universities by giving them grades corresponding to their level.
- Effectively operationalise the Commission for higher education appointed by the current dispensation in order to perform duties and responsibilities assigned to them.
- Verify documents of the new candidates being enrolled in the universities at the time of the admission.
To the Universities
- Demonstrate a genuine commitment to the quality of their teaching staff.
- Establish board of examination that sets the exams of the university departments and at the same time corrects the exams.
- Conduct the examinations of the various faculties of the university in a synchronised fashion.
- Demonstrate a commitment to the students’ overall attendance shall be 75 %.
- Commercialisation of education shall not be the priority of the university.
- Ensure that every student wears his/her university ID card, while inside the campus.
- Seminars, workshops, and group discussions shall be encouraged by the university teaching staff.
- Comply with the rules and the regulations of the ministry of education.
- Sports and games shall be encouraged and be part and parcel of the syllabus of the university.
- Library equipped with valuable books shall be made available at the university. Reading room and reference room shall be used at any time during the working hours; and the corridor steps and the area around it shall be a silent zone.
- Separate toilet facilities shall be allocated for lady students plus prayer room.
- Record of attendance of the teaching staff shall be maintained.
- Dress code of the students shall be in conformity to that of our Islamic religion and student who wears indecent dress shall be warned.
- Academic records of the students shall be maintained and each student’s records shall be kept separately.
- Old question papers of the successive term end exams shall be kept in the library and the students be intimated to refer them for the incoming exams.
To the Students of the Universities
- Observe punctuality and they shall avoid absenteeism and lateness.
- Comply with the rules and the regulations of the university.
- Behave like students and show respect to the teachers regardless his or her age or qualifications.
- Wear the identify card on their person while on campus. The ID card shall be shown to any member of the staff or university officials when asked for, especially when dealing with the office and library.
- Study silently in the classroom or go to the library if the concerned teacher is on leave.
- Avoid sitting on the steps of any building at any time of the day.
- Be very careful of smoking on the campus, and bringing Khat (Catha edulis) or any other eatables to the university campus.
- Be heedful of using mobiles while class is going on keep mobile in silent mode during class hours.
- Seek permission from the teacher taking the class to enter into the class if class is commenced before your arrival.
- Be mindful to behave indecently while class is going on.
- Attempt not to settle scores with your companions, faculty Deans, teaching staff or Pro- chancellor or the Chancellor.
- Instigation of indiscipline by violence, groupism, class clashes etc by your words, slogans and behaviour shall be avoided.
- Favouritism or especial treatment from the teachers shall be eschewed at any cost.
Mukhtar Mohamed Abby
[India, Karnataka State]