First High Level Conference on Education for several years opens in Mogadishu
By Susannah Price
Mogadishu, 18 June, 2013-The National Education Conference opened in Mogadishu on 18 June 2013 - the first such high level education meeting, bringing together leading educationalists from all over the country, for several years.
The three day conference, to discuss the future of education in Somalia, was officially opened by the Prime Minister of the Somali Federal Government, Abdi Farah Shirdon who called for education to be given the same budget allocation as security.
The Prime Minister said it was the constitutional right of each child to receive education free of charge.
“When we used to give priority to the budget allocation for the security and interior ministries, now we are planning to have such a budget for education as a positive sign of what we believe in and where we are heading,” the Prime Minister said.
He said that the Government needed to hear the opinions of the experts assembled for the Conference on several issues including creating an education curriculum which was well structured and unified.
“We are dreaming of a new Somalia – we can’t get the new Somalia we want without education,” he said.
The Human Development and Public Services Minister, Dr Maryan Qasim, said they had managed to organize the Conference against the odds.
“Education is a bridge to solve the problems and we want education to be a unifying factor to solve our problems,” she said. “We need to fight illiteracy.”
The Conference was attended by education officials from all over the country - Mogadishu, Puntland, Bay and Bakool, Hiraan, Juba, Gedo and Galmudug and others.
The Puntland Education Minister Abdi Farah Saeed said the Conference would exchange ideas and analysis and see what was working and not working to move forward together.
Philippe Lazzarini, UN Resident Coordinator, said education could be the means for present and future generations to participate in the reconstruction process.
UNICEF Somalia’s Deputy Representative, Foroogh Foyouzat, called for the Somalis to agree on a constructive, forward looking education system which would promote peace and stability.
Mohamed Djelid, the UNESCO Regional Representative said the process of dialogue and reflection should set ground to ensure quality learning for all.
Other speakers retraced the history of education in Somalia, spoke of the contribution of the Diaspora, institution building, the importance of teacher training and non-formal education and basic skills training.