My country has been in the failed state list for the over two decades. The living standards are very low and more than 90% of the population lives in poverty, and the remaining 10% are considered middle class. In addition, there are no rich people. Most people are unemployed and the rest are underemployed. Development is almost close to non existence. Although chaos and war was going on for over two decades, however there has been a relative peace in the country and most clashes have seized to exist in the past few years. With the calmness and somewhat temporary peace, we can utilize the time to focus on development activities so that we won’t fall back to another civil war that takes us back, years and years.
I was personally interested in development since childhood, because growing up in chaos and war had instilled in me the passion to excel in school and dream of a better world. The stories of the past and the conversation between the elders were also a motivation to get back to glory days, and the peace and prosperity we once enjoyed. I knew I wanted to change the dreadful situation my country fell into and despite the challenges I believed it could be done. That was a little girl’s dream, but I worked hard as an adult to ensure that dream becomes a reality. After graduating from secondary school and joining a college to get a certificate in Information Processing, I decided to go abroad and further my studies in Malaysia. I always felt like we are disconnected from the world and in order to reach development we needed to have international support. The world is becoming global nowadays and it has its benefits to have friends in the international community.
I came back to my country beginning 2012, after getting my undergraduate degree in Information Technology and working in Malaysia as a software developer for a year; I decided I had enough experience and knowledge to give back to my community. I started teaching at local universities. I firmly believe that the way out of the chaos and war and poverty is through education and it’s highly unlikely for an educated young man or woman to join militia, at least in Somalia. Most people who are involved in armed gangs are ignorant people who did not get the chance of education. Even if they are not employed, educated individuals tend to avoid violence and armed gangs and go abroad to make use of their talent.
In the past few years, many people from the Diaspora have been coming back to Somalia to contribute to the development of the country. However, personnel with a proper knowledge of tools and techniques of development are needed in any field to make this process smooth. In my view, development reduces hunger, poverty, and tendency to violence and war. I joined the computer science department at University of Bossaso, and I chose to teach software development courses. I introduced the concept of presentations, group assignments, and doing an online research to Somali students who were taught only from books and were not challenged to practically apply their knowledge apart from writing it down on the exam paper. Most of my university students in Bossaso, have never used Google to get information, or stood in front of their peers to explain something. They relied on the teacher to deliver, and were never given a chance to try and learn from other sources such as the internet. I believe in education as a catalyst for development therefore I emphasize on education for development programs.
Although access to education is not enjoyed fairly by all, however, there is a certain group that suffers the most which is Women. There is a major ignorance in social equality in which females are far less found in educational institutes. And families tend to favor sending boys to school than girls, because of ignorance and traditional stereotyping that states educating girls would be a waste of resources for the family which is why they assume boys would benefit the family more.
Even if the family sends their daughters to schools, there is also another dilemma which is unfriendly school environment or the lack of motivation by the educators. There is less than 1% female presence in education, policy and decision making, and even private businesses except trade. This tends to discourage girls to further their studies past the primary school.
Because of the apparent gender bias in this society, girls leaving school is very popular for they fail to see the point of studying and decide to quit, and this leads to early marriages that result in teen divorces.
I know there are many challenges that will face the individuals who initiate development programs for Somalia, due to unstable political environment, as well as the lack of enough personnel to carry out this major task. But we have hope and I believe education will allow us to overcome the challenges of development in our country.
In conclusion, there are many people like me who chose to be part of the positive transformation process, in order to achieve peace in Somalia, and end the civil war, poverty, and diseases, through education. Definitely, and with such optimism and dedication we can achieve our goal and make Somalia a beautiful peaceful country once more.