The Republic of Somaliland says it can provide schooling to over half-a-million school-age kids if it prudently exploited an abundance of under-utilized resources in-country.
His Excellency the President of the Republic of Somaliland, Musa Bihi Abdi, speaking at the graduation of the University of Hargeisa’s Class of 2020 of 1250 undergraduate and post-graduates, Sunday, stated that there were more than 600 000 kids between the ages of 6 and 20 who urgently needed schooling in Somaliland.
The President based his estimates on a 4-million population when, in fact, other recent, scientifically calculated estimated had put the population of Somaliland at 5.7 million. This means, the problem could be far worse than the Presidents’s conservative numbers.
“There is a dearth, a marked gap between the facilities and teaching staff at hand and the number of school-age kids who had missed the privilege of schooling,” he said.
He said not much more than one-fourth of that number are currently in school.
President Bihi said the nation would need not less than US$900 million if the problem was to be tackled upfront – three times more than the current national budget.
President was optimistic of how the deprivation could be addressed.
“We have an abundance of resources that are in short supply elsewhere in the world,” he said.
“We have a year-round sun. We have seasonal rains and plenty of water even though we miss harvesting it year in, year out. We have gold that is not far from the surface. We have untapped oil – and much more,” he pointed out.
And, yet, he said, Somaliland and its people’s most basic needs went unrequited.
He had an idea why.
“Tribalism and absence of knowledge of the tenets of the Holy Quran and the stipulations of the national constitution on the part of citizens are to blame. Had Somaliland nationals,” he said, “were versed adequately with the directions of their faith and articles 10 to 13 of their constitution, they would not have suffered this and many more unnecessary deprivations”.
In a related statement which the Minister of Education and Sciences, Ahmed Mohamed Derie, made, he revealed that there were 645 populated areas in Somaliland whose children had no access to eduaction. and educational facilities.
To even provide the most rudimentary services these areas so direly needed, the country would need to come up with at least US$100 million immediately.
“The only solution to the problem at present is to find ‘temporary schoo structures’ which allowed for inexpensive school structures and seating for students,” he said.
Minister Derie hoped that the morale drain could be stemmed if resources were intelligently mobilized and exploited.
Minister Derie’s assessment complements that of the President in a more scientific manner.
In fact, the problem is far more pressing than stated. Both the President’s and Minister’s words are cached in a way to cushion the desperation existing on the ground.
In between the two scenarios painted are hundreds of more situations that children got to makeshift classrooms only to return home at the end of the day with one or two lessons they took down sitting on the sandy floor: no taechers, no seating facilities, no teaching materials.