Education in Somalia

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Education in Somalia refers to the academic system within Somalia. The Ministry of Education is officially responsible for education in Somalia, with about 15% of the nation's budget allocated to scholastic instruction. The breakaway republic of Somaliland maintains its own advanced Ministry of Education.[1]


Children during a lesson at school in Barawe, Somalia.

The school system in the colonial era before WW2 was limited mainly to primary schools (like the "Scuola Regina Elena"[2]), but in the capital Mogadishu of "Italian Somalia" there was an important high school.[3] In this Lyceum was created in the early 1950s the "National Institute of Legal, Economic and Social Studies",[4] as a post-secondary school in Italian language for pre-university studies in order to access the Italian universities.

The Somali National University was the first high level education institution in the territory of Somalia. It was established in 1954 as L'Universita' Nazionale Somala during the Trust Territory of Somaliland. In 1969, the institution obtained official university status in newly independent Somalia.[5] The main university grounds were situated about six kilometers from the city center of Mogadishu. Here, during the institution's first thirty years, the main campus was known as Jaamacada Gaheyr ("Gaheyr University").[6]

Following the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991, the task of running schools in Somalia was initially taken up by community education committees established in 94% of the local schools.[7] Numerous problems had arisen with regard to access to education in rural areas and along gender lines, quality of educational provisions, responsiveness of school curricula, educational standards and controls, management and planning capacity, and financing. To address these concerns, the Puntland government is in the process of developing an educational policy to guide the region's scholastic process as it embarks on the path of reconstruction and economic development. The latter includes a gender sensitive national education policy compliant with world standards, such as those outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).[8] Examples of this and other educational measures at work are the government's enactment of legislation aimed at securing the educational interests of girls,[9] promoting the growth of an Early Childhood Development (ECD) program designed to reach parents and care-givers in their homes as well as in the ECD centers for 0-5-year-old children,[10] and introducing incentive packages to encourage teachers to work in remote rural areas.[11]

Educational structure[edit]

Within the Puntland government, the Ministry of Education is responsible for developing and managing the region's educational needs.[12] It is headed by the Minister Mohamud Bile Dubbe, under whom a Vice Minister and Director General help oversee a Post-Primary Education Division (PPED) and a Basic Education Directorate (BED), among other boards.[13]

The educational system of Puntland comprises two years of Early Childhood Development (ECD), eight years of primary education (four years of lower primary and four years of upper primary) and four years of secondary education. University education comprises an average of four years. Thus, it is a 2-4-4-4 system. Puntland's Ministry of Education also recognizes non-formal and technical and vocational education as integral parts of the region's educational system.[14]

Early Childhood Development (ECD)[edit]

Early Childhood Development (ECD), as with primary education and non-formal education programs, falls within the category of basic education and entails the essential skills of literacy and numeracy upon which further learning is built. Qur'anic education also forms a component of ECD. ECD is offered to children in the 0-5 age bracket, with the focus on stimulating and developing the cognitive, affective and psycho-motor skills of the toddler and his/her holistic development. It also prepares children for school and facilitates the transition from home to primary school.[14]

Primary education[edit]

The Hammar Jab Jab School in Mogadishu.

Primary education features nine compulsory subjects: Arabic, Islamic studies, Somali, mathematics (including business education), science (health, environmental education, and agriculture), social studies (including history, geography and civics), English, physical education and arts and crafts. Lower and upper primary students are taught for 36 and 42 lesson periods, each lasting 35 and 40 minutes, respectively, per week. The language of instruction is Somali in subjects other than Arabic and Islam; English is taught as a subject from Grades 2 to 8.[15]

Secondary education[edit]

Secondary school education is offered for four years to pupils between the ages of 15–18, and leads to a Puntland Secondary School Certificate Examination (PSCE). Ten subjects are taught in secondary schools, namely: mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, Somali, Arabic, Islamic studies, English, physical education, geography and history. All subjects, with the exception of physical education, are compulsory. English is the language of instruction in secondary schools, except in the Somali, Arabic, and Islamic courses. Each school week is composed of 40 periods of 45 minutes each.[16]

Tertiary education[edit]

A computer classroom in Puntland State University.

Tertiary education in Somalia refers to education offered on completion of secondary education. Teacher education, for convenience, is grouped under this category. Tertiary education in the context of Puntland thus includes university education, instruction offered through diploma–level institutions such as community and teacher colleges. The Puntland region currently counts five major universities: Puntland State University in Garowe, Puntland State University in Galkayo, Bosaso College in Bosaso, Mogadishu University Puntland Branch in Bosaso, and East Africa University in Bosaso, Galkayo and Garowe.[17]

In the northwestern Somaliland region, tertiary academic instruction is provided by the University of Hargeisa, Admas University College, International Horn University and Somaliland University of Technology in Hargeisa, and Burao University in Burao.

In the Sanaag region, Maakhir University in Badhan offers undergraduate courses. Nugaal University in Las Anod also provides tertiary instruction to residents of Sool. In the Awdal province, Amoud University in Borama serves the local community. The East Africa University-Buuhoodle has been in operation since 2012 and gives undergraduate degree of four major faculties.

Universities offering higher education in southern Somalia include Indian Ocean University, Mogadishu University, Benadir University, Plasma University, the Somalia National University, SIMAD University, the University of Southern Somalia, Kismayo University, the University of Somalia and the University of Gedo. The Gedo region is also home to Bardera Polytechnic, the region's first polytechnic school.

Technical/Vocational education and training (TVET)[edit]

Technical/Vocational education and training (TVET) is offered at both the post-primary and post-secondary levels. The objectives of technical/vocational instruction and training at both the post-primary and post-secondary levels are to provide training opportunities for school drop outs to enable them to be productive citizens and self-supporting, to provide technical/vocational education and training that is relevant to the industrial, commercial and economic needs of Puntland, and to reduce disparities through increased training opportunities for the handicapped and learners from disadvantaged communities, as well as women.[18]

Non-formal education (NFE)[edit]

The last tier of academic instruction offered in Somalia is non-formal education (NFE), which refers to a broad set of learning opportunities that are offered to out-of-school children, youth and adults. These include vocational skills training, adult literacy, community health education, and agricultural extension activities.[19]

Religious education[edit]

Qur'anic schools (also known as duqsi) remain the basic system of traditional religious instruction in Somalia. They provide Islamic education for children, thereby filling a clear religious and social role in the country. Known as the most stable local, non-formal system of education providing basic religious and moral instruction, their strength rests on community support and their use of locally made and widely available teaching materials. The Qur'anic system, which teaches the greatest number of students relative to other educational sub-sectors, is often the only system accessible to Somalis in nomadic as compared to urban areas. A study from 1993 found, among other things, that about 40% of pupils in Qur'anic schools were girls. To address shortcomings in religious instruction, the Somali government on its own part also subsequently established the Ministry of Endowment and Islamic Affairs, under which Qur'anic education is now regulated.[20]


In 2006, the autonomous Puntland region in the northeast was the second territory in Somalia after the Somaliland region to introduce free primary schools, with teachers now receiving their salaries from the Puntland administration.[21]

From 2005/2006 to 2006/2007, there was also a significant increase in the number of schools in Puntland, up 137 institutions from just one year prior. During the same period, the number of classes in the region increased by 504, with 762 more teachers also offering their services. Total student enrollment increased by 27% over the previous year, with girls lagging only slightly behind boys in attendance in most regions. The highest class enrollment was observed in the northernmost Bari region, and the lowest was observed in the under-populated Ayn region. The distribution of classrooms was almost evenly split between urban and rural areas, with marginally more pupils attending and instructors teaching classes in urban areas.[22]

Higher education in Somalia is now largely private. Several universities in the country, including Mogadishu University, have been scored among the 100 best universities in Africa, which has been hailed as a triumph for grass-roots initiatives.[23] The table below shows the level of education completed by surveyed residents of Puntland and Somaliland in 2013.[24]

Level of Education Puntland Somaliland Urban Rural Total
Illiterate 28% 13% 35% 51% 42%
Madrasssa/Koranic school 36% 41% 24% 29% 26%
Primary school completed 22% 30% 21% 15% 18%
Vocational school 4% 1% 4% 1% 3%
Secondary school completion 7% 12% 11% 4% 8%
Tertiary education or higher 2% 7% 5% 0% 3%

See also[edit]


  1. ^ en:Education_in_Somaliland, oldid 898600858[circular reference]
  2. ^ Scuola Regina Elena
  3. ^ The "Lyceum De Bono" of Mogadishu
  4. ^ Istituto Superiore studi pre-universitari
  5. ^ Jawed, Mohammed Nasir (1996). Year Book of the Muslim World. Medialine. p. 368.
  6. ^ Country Higher Education Profiles - Somalia Archived 2008-10-29 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Ihebuzor, Noel (2005-01-31). "EC and UNICEF join hands to support education in Somalia". United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Retrieved 2007-02-09.
  8. ^ Puntland State of Somalia - Ministry of Education - Education Archived 2010-09-29 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Puntland State of Somalia - Ministry of Education - Girls' education Archived 2010-08-30 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Puntland State of Somalia - Ministry of Education - Children's education Archived 2010-08-30 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Puntland State of Somalia - Ministry of Education - Rural education Archived 2010-08-30 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Puntland State of Somalia - Ministry of Education - Profile". Archived from the original on 2010-09-29. Retrieved 2015-02-01.
  13. ^ "Puntland State of Somalia - Ministry of Education - Minister Profile". Archived from the original on 2010-09-29. Retrieved 2015-02-01.
  14. ^ a b "Puntland State of Somalia - Ministry of Education - Education System". Archived from the original on 2010-08-30. Retrieved 2015-02-01.
  15. ^ "Puntland State of Somalia - Ministry of Education - Primary Education". Archived from the original on 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  16. ^ "Puntland State of Somalia - Ministry of Education - Secondary Education". Archived from the original on 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  17. ^ "Puntland State of Somalia - Ministry of Education - Tertiary education". Archived from the original on 2010-08-30. Retrieved 2015-02-01.
  18. ^ "Puntland State of Somalia - Ministry of Education - Technical/vocational education and training". Archived from the original on 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  19. ^ "Puntland State of Somalia - Ministry of Education - Non-formal education". Archived from the original on 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  20. ^ "Koranic School Project" (PDF).
  21. ^ Staff writer, Staff writer (2006-04-06). "Puntland (Somalia) to introduce free primary schools". Afrol News. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
  22. ^ Basic education survey Archived February 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ The Role of Islamic NGOs and Charities in a Stateless Country: The Case of Somalia[permanent dead link] by Valeria Saggiomo.
  24. ^ Family Ties: Remittances and Livelihoods Support in Puntland and Somaliland (PDF). Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU). 5 June 2013. p. 6.