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Education is Somalia’s best hope for sustainable development

Thursday March 9, 2023

By Farah Sh. Abdulkadir Mohamed


Education is the only real measure of a nation’s capacity, strength and potential. Education is central to nation-building, national identity and global connectivity. In a nutshell, education determines not only the future of an individual but an entire society.

There has been a race to the top to ensure that education planning, access, quality, and delivery constantly improve worldwide. Most developed nations are advanced because of the knowledge and skills imparted to their citizens through their education system. There is a clear evidential link between education, stability, progress and prosperity. In Somalia, we are finally paying attention to this and taking corrective actions.

Somalia’s prolonged nearly 30-year civil war destroyed all the key national institutions that would have allowed it to develop. In terms of education, schools, books, and educational records were destroyed. Qualified teachers dispersed across the country, region and the wider world, thereby decimating the human capital that the government relied on. We have had a dangerous inter-generational education deficit throughout the period of state collapse up to this day; Somalia’s private and community sector education providers have been trying their best to cover the vast need of the Somali population. However, this is not enough.

Today, as a result of all the above, Somalia has among the worst statistics on education in the world, including enrollment, quality of teaching, and student outcomes. This is not where we want to be or can be if we are to realize a brighter future for our country.

Somalia is a great example highlighting the link between state-building, sustainable development and education. In fact, there is a strong argument that Somalia is diverted from its national direction and damaged its sovereignty because we nearly lost our national identity. Instead of organizing our society along our shared national goals, we reverted to individual and narrow clan agendas. This diversion created different stories and narratives even in our modern history, which continues to divide us. If we continue like this, there are very few common reference points to sustain peace and stability. Accordingly, we must escape this deadly trap reinforced by ignorance and mistrust through inclusive and accessible education.

Education is the glue that can form a new hopeful national identity away from just clan. Our people have a shared history, stories and a common future, all of which can be strengthened by accessible, innovative and inclusive education. Without a doubt, we must have a deep conversation about the future of Somalia’s education system and its purpose. This is why we are organizing the first major education conference in Somalia’s modern history between 13 - 17th March 2023.

The National Education Conference will focus on developing a common vision for education based on Somalia’s pressing needs and national interest, increasing access to education, improving the quality of education, and sustainable financing to leave no child behind. On the latter matter, we must shift the narrative from education being an expense rather than see it as an inter-generational investment to strengthen human capital and create real opportunities for sustainable development. Accordingly, we should be as generous as possible when supporting education in Somalia across all stakeholders.

Furthermore, we will work hard to agree on managing the entire education process with clear roles and responsibilities among all stakeholders. There is a massive role for the Federal Government, Federal Member States, the private sector and the support of our valued international partners.

In conclusion, Somalia’s future is still in the making. Progress is being made, but real security, political and socio-economic challenges remain. I believe education is the best way to leapfrog from these challenges to a future of stability and opportunity.

Farah Sh. Abdulkadir Mohamed is the Minister of Education, Culture & Higher Education of the Federal Republic of Somalia.


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