The history of universities and higher education in Somalia is marked by the civil war that began in 1991 and which lasted for more than 10 years and which brought the higher education to a halt. How is the university landscape recovering and developing? What has been the role of the private sector in the reconstruction effort? What challenges still exist? I was recently in Hargeisa (Somaliland) and met to discuss these questions with Dr. Salim Said, senior researcher at the Somali Institute for Development Research and Analysis.
My takeaways from our conversation are:
- Both basic education and higher education collapsed during the civil war
- During the last ten year as the country has been recovering from the conflict the number of students finishing secondary education has gradually increased and so has the demand for university education
- The number of universities in the country has increased rapidly driven by three factors: 1) private investors who established private universities; 2) a federal governance system; and 3) a weak regulatory framework defining the establishment of higher education institutions
- The rapid growth in the number of universities in the regions of Somalia means that there is an urgent need to guarantee quality of higher education teaching and research
- There are many challenges, but things are removing in the right direction. There are discussions among universities leaders and regional governments about finding ways to strengthening research in universities, reforming the career progression for academics, invest in labs for natural science research, and more collaborations and twinning arrangements with universities overseas.