It is frequently argued that educational institutions in Africa do not prioritize local development needs. There are numerous contributing factors to this complicated issue.
One factor is the colonial legacy. Many African countries were colonized by European powers, and the education systems that were established during this time were designed to serve the needs of the colonial rulers, not the local population. As a result, many educational institutions in Africa continue to emphasize the study of conventional disciplines like math, science, and English even though they are sometimes irrelevant to the requirements of local employment opportunity needs.
Poverty is another one. Education suffers as a result of poverty, which affects many African nations. Teachers, textbooks, and facilities are frequently lacking in these nations’ educational institutions. It is difficult to provide students with a relevant, high-quality education as a result of this.
Finally, political will is another factor that is responsible for this trend. There is a lack of political will to change the educational system in many African nations. Governments frequently place a higher priority on other issues like national security or economic growth. They are unwilling to provide the required funds to overhauling the educational system as a result.
The dilemma of African education institutions not catering for local development priorities is a major challenge facing the continent. It is a challenge that will need to be addressed if Africa is to achieve its development goals.
The question posed by the piece’s title stems from a recent article in The Standard, a Kenyan newspaper, about the construction boom in Somaliland and how Kenyan architects are essential and play a significant role in it. The article was written by a journalist from that newspaper who came Hargeisa and first handedly observed that reality.
It is a mind boggling to know the number of Kenyan expatriates employed in Somaliland
In addition to Kenyan nationals, a significant number of expatriates from other countries like Pakistan, India, and others are employed in Somaliland. The majority of these individuals work in the fields of education, healthcare, and development. Most of these expatriates work for international organizations, and many of them are hired to do simple tasks that could be done by locals. International organizations are criticized by many in the country for their hiring practices, claiming that they discriminate against local workers and increase unemployment.
It is not unusual but rather a common practice to provide the classroom instructions in your own native language, in this case Somali language, from the primary all the way to tertiary education. In most countries in the world and in our region as well, education instructed in local languages are prioritized and preferred over the one conducted in any other foreign language. Many countries in the developed and developing world, whose people are mostly educated and involved in their countries’ development, have done so mainly due to the fact of receiving education in their native languages such as Japan, China, Russia, South Korea, India and many more.
All of the higher education institutions that exist currently in Somaliland and operate in the country instruct classes in English only, while the pipeline – the primary and secondary schools – feeding them are taught in Somali.
There is no higher education institution where Somali is the primary language of instruction.
Taiwan, a highly developed country with an estimated population of 23 million, has a very low English proficiency rate, and most of those who speak English live in the capital Taipei. Most people receive their education in their mother language, both in schools and in universities, and there are 160 universities in the country, according to their representative in Somaliland. The government now introduced a project “Bilingual by 2030” aiming to raise the English proficiency in the country
Somaliland will become a nation dependent on foreign skilled workforce if the education system does not change and continues on this path.
Standard’s piece said:
“Kenyan Builders Thriving in the Construction Boom of Somaliland
Kenyan builders have flooded the Horn of Africa region of Somaliland, lending service to its booming construction industry
The construction sector in the self-declared independent territory is expanding rapidly with new residential units in the latest housing style shooting up, especially in the suburbs of Hargeisa, the capital and largest town.
A quick survey in the area shows many of the builders are Kenyans, from those in charge of the site to the artisan ones. The builders say working in Hargeisa is good, with decent salaries and even accommodation. According to one of the construction workers there, he gets the equivalent of Sh. 65,000 at the end of the month with accommodation catered for, hence he has enough money to send to his family back home.
One of the big companies involved in the construction of houses is Kaabsan Real Estate, a property firm that provides luxurious homes and commercial real estate in Hargeisa. The company has two projects involving 134 townhouses – Rugsan Gardens and Aragsan Villages.
The Standard visited Rugsan Gardens, which houses 68 townhouses that are now completed and sold out. This shows the high demand for housing in Hargeisa due to its fairly urban space. The houses are at a gated community near the Hargeisa Egal International Airport
Somaliland is a semi-desert area on the southern coast of the Gulf of Aden.
Various environmental factors have contributed to the modern buildings in the country. According to Robert Ndalo, a Kenyan architect working with Kaabsan Real Estate, the construction industry varies between Kenya and Somaliland. “Construction between Kenya and Somaliland is different, the soil context is different because this is a desert area and what they are using is a different typology of foundation, setting, and materials are different,” he said.
He added that the walling system in Somaliland is different. “In their walling system, they are using hollow blocks which they clad to have 300mm wall thickness so that the interior of the house is cool.”
Many of the Kenyans working in the construction industry in Hargeisa say the peace in Somaliland has given them hope to work in the country.
Somaliland is an unrecognized sovereign state on the southern coast of the Gulf of Aden, with an area of 176,120 square kilometers. It neighbors Djibouti to the northwest, Ethiopia to the south and west, and Somalia to the east. As at 2021, its population was approximately 5.7 million residents.
After the collapse of the Somali central government in 1990 and the unilateral declaration of independence of the Republic of Somaliland, infrastructural reconstruction subsequently began in Hargeisa and other towns in the country.
Hargeisa has since then gone through a large-scale facelift. The renovations have been largely financed by local entrepreneurs, as well as Somali in diaspora sending funds to relatives in the region through some of the various Somali-owned money transfer operators. Many of the older buildings have been replaced by modern, multi-storied residential and commercial dwellings
Guest piece first published on SII here