Interview with Minister of Education Zamzam Abdi and President of the United World College Selection Committee for Somaliland, Jonathan Starr
Jonathan, tell us a bit about the United World Colleges.
The United World Colleges (UWCs) are a collection of 14 related 2-year colleges around the world that offer the well-respected International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. UWC is connected to the Davis Foundation, which provides scholarship funds for UWC graduates to attend great universities, including the most famous universities in America. While the UWC graduate still must apply and be accepted to these universities, their chances of gaining admissions are greater due to the respect given to UWC graduates, and to universities being more willing to accept students who are coming with this Davis Foundation funding. Far more information is available at the website – www.uwc.org
Madam Minister, please tell us how Somaliland students will benefit from this opportunity.
I am extremely pleased that Somaliland students will have 4 full scholarships this year to gain their International Baccalaureate at world-renowned 2-year colleges. If our students excel then they can easily leverage this to 4 more years of university study in the US. This is a wonderful opportunity for Somaliland secondary school students.
Madam Minister, how did this opportunity come about and what is the role of the Ministry of Education?
Jonathan developed the initial connection to UWC over the past year. When it reached the point of being official, he brought it to me and I immediately put the Ministry of Education’s support behind this great initiative. In the time since we’ve developed an independent selection committee comprised of some of the most well respected people in the country.
Jonathan, which students will be eligible to apply?
Following the guidelines of the United World Colleges, this opportunity is limited to Somaliland secondary school students who were born between 10 January 1996 and 10 January 1998. Students proving they meet these criteria are eligible to apply.
Madam Minister, what can you tell us about the committee that selects the students?
The committee consists of 8 members, 1 from each of the 6 regions plus 2 non-Somalis. This will help us spread word in all the regions while also keeping fairness. With excellent individuals such as the ones listed here, this committee has been designed to assure integrity and success.
Abdi Hassan Gaas – Maroodi Jeex
Abdisalan Yasin Mohamed – Toghdeer
Ahmed Hassan Ali – Sool (Treasurer)
Layla Omer Kahin – Awdal
Jonathan Starr – Independent (President)
Saad Haji Ali Shire – Saxiil
Sadia Musa Ahmed – Sanaag (Vice President)
Thomas Kraemer – Independent (Secretary)
Jonathan, as you are from Abaarso School, are you worried people will say that Abaarso students have been favored?
Since I have worked in Somaliland for 5-years without receiving any financial compensation, I hope people are starting to understand that I’m just looking for what is best for the children. People will always assume bad things, but we have setup this committee to make sure that there are no biases at all. In fact, even though I am the one who brought this opportunity to Somaliland, I am not going to have any vote in the selection process. In addition, the Somaliland people should assume that the excellent people who are on the committee would not allow any favoritism. I expect Abaarso students to be competitive because Abaarso students are strong, but Abaarso students will have no unfair advantages or disadvantages vs. other students. We will run a fair process which could yield 0 Abaarso students or all 4.
How do students apply for this opportunity and is there any cost?
To apply students need to first go to http://www.uwc.org/how_to_apply/find_your_national_committee/somalia/somaliland.aspx where they can download the application and fill it out electronically. This is just our way of getting your information so we can contact you about the next steps. At the end of January an examination will be held for all students who properly filled out the form. To take part in this examination there will be a $20 fee. Following the examination the top 15 scorers will be brought in for essays that will be judged by the committee so as to reach 8 finalists. The 8 finalists will then be interviewed by the selection committee.
So the next step for interested students will be to go to the Somaliland section of the UWC website – http://www.uwc.org/how_to_apply/find_your_national_committee/somalia/somaliland.aspx – and download the application?
Yes, they should download the application, fill it out properly, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We must receive all applications by 25 January, so students will have approximately 2 weeks to get this done. After 25 January it will be too late to submit.
Madam Minister, do you have any last words?
I want all our top Somaliland students to know that this is a great opportunity for them to get a top international education. Becoming Somaliland’s first ambassadors to the United World Colleges is both a great honor and a great responsibility. I look forward to meeting those students who get selected to represent our country.