Monitoring Quality in Arab Higher Education
The Federal Republic of Somalia does not license public or private universities or other post-secondary educational institutions, and does not monitor the quality of such educational institutions.
However, the quasi-independent Republic of Somaliland (a region of northern Somalia that has its own stable administration and institutions, but has not received international recognition as an independent state) published a strategic plan for education in the region; set up a Commission for Higher Education in 2011; and closed three universities this year for failing to meet quality standards.
Elsewhere in Somalia, universities are technically supposed to request approval from the Ministry of Education but this practice is often ignored—multiple sources confirmed—especially in regions not under the control of the central government.
In the course of more than two decades of civil war, control of regions of the country shifted among various warlords, clans, militant groups and armies. In the absence of effective central government, a number of universities were set up without notifying the Ministry of Education. A Ministry of Education official said that the country now has more than 50 universities on its records but is not sure how many are operational. The ministry has no record of universities set up in the past decade.
Some analysts say that if the new government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed is successful, centralized management of higher education could be introduced. Mohamed was elected in February with a mandate to broker a peaceful settlement in the country.
“It’s just a matter of time,” said Nazlin Umar Rajput, an expert in Somali affairs and chairwoman of the National Muslim Council of Kenya. “The government is working with clans and warlords to stabilize Somalia and to put in place policies and infrastructure for high quality education.”
Now, though, the absence of state regulation allows universities to hire staff without adequate qualifications and to neglect investment in essential facilities such as laboratories or libraries, according to interviews and a paper on the state of higher education in Somalia published in 2013 by a Somali think tank, the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies.
In the quasi-independent Republic of Somaliland, the situation is different. While universities there also struggle financially, the minister of education announced in April that it had revoked the licenses of three universities: Al Mahad Al Aali, Togdher International University and Horn International University. The education minister, Abdillahi Habane, said his decision was based on the authority of the Somaliland Commission for Higher Education, formed by presidential decree. The commission has the right to inspect universities annually.
“The universities that did not meet the standards of higher educational institutions were prohibited from admitting students,” Habane said. “We transferred those students who had been enrolled in the affected universities to other higher educational institutions.”
The efforts of the Republic of Somaliland are a confirmation that the rest of Somalia can begin to bring its educational institutions under control, analysts say. In 2016, the director of the Federal Republic of Somalia’s Ministry of Education, Mohamed Abdikadir Noor, said the ministry would begin halting approvals for new universities. But even that step is in the planning stage.