There was rapid expansion of university education in Somaliland, which increased access, and demand for places
By: Mohamoud Dahir Omar
Somalilandsun – Higher education, especially at the university level is of paramount importance for Somaliland’s future. Somaliland requires both highly trained people and top-quality research in order to be able to formulate the policies, plan the program and implement the projects that are essential to economic growth and development of Somaliland. Preparing individuals for positions of responsibility in government, business, and in professions is a central role of the Somaliland’s universities and supporting these individuals in their work with research, advice and consultancy is another equally important role.
Although there was rapid expansion of university education in Somaliland, which increased access, demand for places still outstrips supply. In spite of the expansion, only a small proportion
of the eligible age group has access, based on my assumptions the great majority of university students are aged between 19 and 24 years and no more than 10percent of the eligible age group attends university education.
Like other levels of the education systems, there are major national imbalances in access to university education. As In most African countries, the proportion of female student enrolment in Somaliland declines as they move up the educational ladder. Female participation in terms of access, persistence and achievement is lower than that of males. These disadvantages translate to inequitable selection and participation at the university level. The quality of university education, like other levels of education can be measured through an analysis of: (a) inputs such as teaching and non-teaching staff, curricula, facilities and technologies for teaching and learning arrangements for students? Catering and institutional management; and (b) outputs such as tests and examinations.
Physical planning in the Somaliland universities both public and private does not commensurate with their rate of growth and expansion as more students are enrolled; the managers of universities continue to accommodate them in the existing facilities. This has often led to an over-stretching of such facilities. As a consequence, there is congestion in lecture Halls, laboratories, libraries and boarding facilities. The situation is most deplorable in the sciences and technologies where mostly the private companies have helped to build them some halls. The required inputs which include adequate laboratory space and as well as spare parts for equipment maintenance and repair, routine replacement and upgrading of equipment, reagents and other consumable supplies are seriously lacking in most universities in the Somaliland.
Libraries are among the worst hit facilities in Somaliland universities. Despite increased enrolments, universities do not invest much in the acquisition of books. Libraries hold less capacity of the required books most of which are too old. Some libraries which were designed to accommodate 600 students now serve as many as 5,000 students like UOH. Apart from inadequate space, most libraries cannot afford to contribute to current journals, Latest books and other scholarly publications from outside Somaliland. There is also a scarcity of reference materials.
The massive expansion of enrolments in our universities without a corresponding increase in the number of teaching staff has meant that the staff to student ratio has risen. Normally each university has its own staff development scheme. However, there are many indications that due to lack of strategy plan, Corruption, post-graduate study, which is the basis of staff development, does not meet the demands in the university faculties. To recruit academic staff for both public universities and private universities, the propensity has been towards relaxing the recruitment and promotion criteria. Moreover, due to very low salaries, it is no longer possible to attract competent staff from education market to teach in our universities.
From the poor situation of the teaching and learning environment and the quality and morale of the academic staff, not much is expected in the quality of instruction in our universities. Many lecturers in our universities use old material, which means that the courses they teach are also out of date and this situation has affected the quality of instruction in the universities. With lack of reading materials, students prefer the familiar expository method of teaching as they perceive university education to consist primarily of the reproduction of assimilated lecture materials for purposes of passing Examinations.
Measures to increase the quality of higher education through teaching and research should remain the principal objective for both Higher education and MOE and Long-term development goals cannot be met without it. It is however, appreciated that improvements in quality are unavoidably expensive. Brothers and sisters those who ready to contribute Somaliland education systems the improvement of higher education quality can be achieved through a variety of measures. Urgent attention should be paid to the establishment and gradual implementation of standards of provision for the full range of inputs to teaching and research. The provision of libraries with the necessary books and periodicals should be the highest priority, closely followed by supplying laboratories and materials needed for equipment maintenance and repair. The revival of long-term efforts to upgrade the academic qualifications of staff (lecturers) is also quite essential.
Mohamoud Dahir Omar