A new national education system will underpin brighter futures for a new generation of Somalis, His Excellency Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon said today, opening a three-day National Education Conference in Mogadishu.
“Education must be at the heart of every civilised country’s agenda and Somalia is no different,” the Prime Minister said. “Through education we fight poverty, illiteracy and ignorance and we promote social development. Now that peace has returned to most of Somalia, we urgently need to re-establish our education system, which has been devastated by two decades of fighting. We have already lost a generation through war. Now is the time for Somalia to show what we can achieve together and reap the dividends of peace. Without education we will not build a new Somalia.”
The three-day conference, which brings around 150 education experts to the Somali capital, is hosted by the Ministry of Human Development and Social Services, supported by UNESCO and UNICEF. Apart from government policymakers, representation comes from regional authorities, religious leaders, academics, universities, diaspora Somalis, civil society groups, private schools and international partners.
The education experts will focus on the current education situation; access to basic primary and secondary education, especially to vulnerable groups; teacher education and a Somali curriculum; strengthening ministries; skills training; improving tertiary education. The conference is due to conclude with an agreed action plan that will deliver benefits to a new generation of Somali children.
“Every child has a constitutional right to primary and secondary education free of charge,” the Prime Minister said. “In recent years too many young Somalis have been led astray by false religious training. A new education system must deliver proper religious instruction, rise above clannism, improve the position of teachers and enhance the condition of school buildings.”
He called on the conference to rise to the challenge and develop plans for a national curriculum so that Somali children could receive the education and training they deserved.
“Today is hugely important for Somalia. Seeing all these education experts here today makes me proud to lead a country emerging from traumatic times. I commend your devotion to improving Somali lives and I congratulate you for making this conference happen. With your help we will establish a solid foundation for education in Somalia – from primary school to university – which will be the bedrock of our children’s brighter futures. They deserve nothing less.”