DG of Education in Puntland speaks about efforts made to help the national education system stand on its feet
Abdulkadir Yusuf Nur is the acting Director General of Education in the semiautonomous Puntland region of northeast Somalia. He spoke to Mike Pflanz about how an innovative new skills-transfer programme where technically specialised diaspora Somalis partner with officials in his ministry will help increase quality education in schools across the region.
Q: What are the challenges you and your staff face at the Ministry of Education here in Puntland?
A: During the civil war here, all infrastructures were totally destroyed, no part of the country was spared. There are very few people here who are educated, because so many people fled the country during the war. If we don’t have qualified teachers or managers or officers, we can’t improve all these issues in classes.
Q: How is the Integrated Capacity Development for Somali Education Administrations, funded by the European Union and UNICEF, helping to overcome those difficulties?
A: This is the most important programme we have here at the Ministry of Education at the moment. For anything we do to be of good quality, we need quality people to produce it, and as managers we are the ones who can change everything. Already in a very short time a lot has changed.
Increasing the capacity of the managers here means they can plan for the future. Without that capacity now to plan, things will remain the same. The ICDSEA programme has placed five consultant technical advisors here in Puntland, and there are five more in the Ministry of Education in Somaliland.
They are all Somalis from the diaspora, who worked abroad and have now come home to help. They are teaching us, and they are teaching 10 local management trainees here in the ministry, they are getting so much from the consultants. Those are the young men and women we are expecting will eventually replace us in charge here at the ministry.
Q: Why is it important to train officers at the ministry, rather than, say, building schools or buying text books?
A: We want to rebuild our country, and the best way to do that is by building what we call the human resources, the people of this country who are educated through quality teaching in schools. Qualified human resources are what will bring so much development to this country in the future.
To do that, we want to transform the way we teach in our classes. We want well-trained teachers and a better curriculum – that’s how to build a better country. This ICDSEA programme will give us better managers at the ministry, and the benefits of that will then go from regional to district and even to school level. It will trickle down. We are always thinking about the children, and how we want them to be able to go to school to be educated by qualified teachers and learning an improved curriculum.
Q: Can you describe some of the successes that have already been achieved under the ICDSEA programme?
A: The Minister now is focusing on quality. We started with quantity, getting more classrooms and teachers, but there was the challenge that there were few who were qualified. But with the ICDSEA technical advisors, we are already planning to change that.
We have already harmonised the secondary and primary school examinations and graduation certificate. There used to be so many different systems, from ourselves, from our neighbours, Kenya, Ethiopia, from the West. But now there is one programme. We are working on making sure that these exams and certificates are recognised around the region.
We have also convinced the government to increase the budget for schools, we are recruiting more teachers: 400 more have been recruited in the last two years. We are looking for scholarships for our students to other countries, to Sudan, Yemen, Ethiopia, Uganda.
In the future, we expect that we will be able to stand on our own two feet, to have quality across the board, to have the government increasing the budget because we can handle all of these issues. That’s why building the capacity of us people here at the ministry is the most important starting point.