Last week we looked into the economy of Somaliland, this week our focus is the education system. As everywhere else in the world, education is crucial for a society’s wealth and prosperity. But during Somalia’s civil war in the late 1980s, more than 90% of schools were destroyed. Education in Somaliland went on to develop nevertheless and continues to be delivered.
Today, there is a whole education system with public and private kindergartens, primary and secondary schools and universities. The number of primary schools has grown steadily from virtually zero in 1990 to 935 in 2014.
But how do the state authorities in Somaliland keep the schools going? Being on a tight budget, security remains the top priority for the state, leaving little money for other public services. This is where non-state-actors like the diaspora and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) come in, which play a huge role in maintaining the school system. Mostly, they work together with the state authorities who provide the organizational framework for their activities.
This hybrid system also means that non-state actors have the power to decide whether state policies are implemented or not. It also means that personal connections between members of the diaspora and officials in the ministry, rather than clear guidelines, can play a role in determining outcomes – like whether a school is recognised or not.
Help from outside?
Without the activities form non-state actors, NGO’s and especially the diaspora, the school and education system would not exist in the way it does in today’s Somaliland. For instance, in some towns new schools were built because networks of people from abroad had family living there. About one million Somalis live abroad and their remittances are widely known to have supported relatives “at home” over the past two decades. The same goes for schools. In rural areas, schools are usually set-up by diaspora groups or international donors. Most public schools are funded by both the government and diaspora.
International Islamic charity organisations and local businessmen also develop the private education sector by importing a range of curricula and school books from elsewhere – such as Turkey or Sudan.
So, there are obviously many actors form „outside“ active in the educational field. But does that mean that the state has no influence and is irrelevant here? Not at all. In 2016, a reform was set up by the state to unify the large number of different curricula and school books from abroad, meaning that the Somaliland state is recognized as the overall regulatory authority. Nevertheless, it is still up to the organizations that run a certain school if they accept the guidelines and rules provided by the government. (ck)