Somali Militants Warn Education Organizations over Somalia’s New Curriculum

The Al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab group warned the Somalia’s independent education umbrellas against direct collaboration with the government which is struggling to shake up the country’s education system wrecked by decades of conflict in its efforts to introduce the country’s new education curriculum across the country.

With one of the world’s lowest enrolment rates for primary school-aged children in the world, Somalia’s education system, lacking a unified approach for decades is expected to have a single system of four years in lower-primary school, four years in upper-primary and four years in secondary as parts of a new educational restructuring policy issued by the government this year, according to the education ministry.

However, al-Shabab, the Al-Qaeda linked armed group fighting Somali government and African Union forces opposed the new educational policy, and issued a new warning to the education organizations not to introduce it in schools under their umbrellas, saying that the new curriculum is contrary to the teachings of the Islamic sharia.

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“We shall take a strong action against anyone or umbrellas that ignores this warning.” said Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, the group’s spokesman who also accused the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) of propagating an ‘incorrect’ educational curriculum, which he alleged opposes the Islamic religion.
His warning comes on the backdrops of efforts by the Somali government which aims to give a free elementary school education to at least 3 million children.

According to the government, structure, term times, text books and even the language of teaching have all been changed to bring about a “Somali-owned system” as parts of a whole changes made to the education system ravaged by civil war, where three million children are out of school and 70% of the population are under 30.

But possibly the biggest change faced by millions of Somali children is the language used to teach them. Until now, schools affected by the conflict and shortages of supplies have used whatever text books they can get – from as many as 10 other countries. This led to English and Arabic being the major teaching languages.

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Years of internal conflict virtually wrecked the education system. It is “characterised by poor-quality, insufficient numbers of qualified teachers and inadequate resources,” said the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

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