IT IS NOT A BIG DEAL TO GET A UNIVERSITY DEGREE FROM A PRIVATE UNIVERSITY IN MOGADISHU AT THE MODERN DATE – THE EDUCATION SYSTEM THAT KILLS THE MORALITY FOR PROPER EDUCATION SYSTEM THAN CREATING IT!
A decade ago, to graduate from a university in our country was not as easy as it is today. Students used to go all the way and study properly. Ten years back, graduation was a long process that could take minimum three or four years. Students had to follow systematic process, taking semester into another. There were very few number of universities at the time, but full of quality and decent system of education. Graduating students would get job because of their knowledge and skills.
Thank-goodness to those universities that existed at the time. Universities would set their strategies based on quality education. The solely and most important objective was to produce a quality student in almost every aspect. That has worked, and students were probably educated, skilled, and disciplined. Nevertheless, universities had to invest themselves to run their work, that means there was no any public university working at the time. And there wasn’t a proper functioning central government that could support them.
Back in the day, before the collapse of the state in 1991, when we had a powerful central government, the education system was also strong. There were public universities that used to provide decent services to students. The education system was standardised. Students could do their higher studies in abroad in almost every country world wide. Somali public universities were recognised universally. Notably, there were foreign students studying in our country at the time.
After the collapse of the central government, everything else has disappeared including the education services. It took several years to establish the education service of universities but this time around, only as a private service. That meant, students had to pay tuition fees in order to study at those private universities. The very first few ones had offered exceptional quality given the circumstances and the challenges they had to face. They worked hard to mark themselves on to the education service stage. They set their structure, and a clear objective – to provide quality education service in absence of the public education service. It didn’t take long until they got international recognition. Students who graduated from those universities got themselves higher education in abroad, particularly in Europe.
Nonetheless, in recent times, many has changed in the education system of private universities while there was inefficiency public education service. Many private universities has been established in similar dates. However, this time around the objective was very different to those of the old ones. They didn’t have a clear objective regarding quality of service they wanted to provide. Instead, their main objective was just getting students at all costs. From that point, competition began in getting students rather than offering quality education. Students would get a bigger choice in joining universities in almost every aspect – considering the tuition fees, the nature of the education system by the university, rules and regulations of the university, study period, as well as the transfer policy of the university.
On the other hand, the very first established universities who got a clear objective based on quality education and strong system in the interest of producing quality students – started to reconsider some of their strict policies – for example, the student transfer policy. Mogadishu University which was established in 1997 made itself a brand in offering quality education service. It never accepted before students who wanted to transfer from particular university to Mogadishu University at any stage. However, given the situation, Mogadishu University reconsidered that policy, and now accepts students who transfer from other universities up to the first year.
When I was studying my Masters Degree in Bangladesh two years back in 2017, I couldn’t wait to come back to my home country and teach at university level. When I have arrived in January 2018, I have immediately started to submit my CV into a different number of private universities to get the opportunity of teaching. That was one of my biggest ambitions in life. I have got the opportunity to become a university lecturer in undergraduate level on a part time basis, and started it in late January 2018.
After completing one full semester as a university faculty member on a part time basis in undergraduate level, I have got to know more about the facts and the inside story of many private universities in Mogadishu. These are the facts I have experienced during my first semester of teaching career at university undergraduate level, particularly private universities. I have found that it is far beyond quality, and it is all about counting the number of students who study at the university in order to make profits.
There are no rules and regulations followed by any body. Teachers are barely allowed to discipline students. Students are not punished for their faults. Students can cheat exams, and surprisingly, teachers who try to stop students from misconduct or cheating are perceived as the ones who are threats to the university existence. Students do not attend to classes properly, and notably, they can sit for exams without any penalty.
In addition to that, there are many graduate students who were not part of the regular students of the university who attend on the graduation ceremony as graduators. I have encountered at least 20 students who were part of the graduating students during a graduation ceremony in one of the private universities I was teaching at. University certificates are sold out, and the graduating students’ list was corrupted terribly. I was teaching Ethics in Public Administration course in Public Administration class for their last semester. They were students who were going to graduate. The number of students in the class was just 18. I have found at least 20 answer scripts among the answer scripts I have collected after a final exam in my course. They were students who never attended to the university, particularly my course. I have wondered the extent of corruption in the university.
A close source told me that at least one senior official in the university hierarchy is directly involved in that scandal. It was that senior official who brought those 20 students in the university on the final exam to sit for the test. Thoe students who are going to get a university undergraduate degree within just a short period of time, and without actually sitting for any class pay lucrative sum of money to the university officials, who in turn give them the certificate they craved for.
These organisations are not established to achieve clear goals. There are no clear vision and mission which are communicated widely among employees. The are no strategies that are implemented to accomplish objectives. Most importantly, there is no a clear code of conduct that states employees what should be done, and what should not be done. In this case, conflict of interest arises, as personal interest comes first to the one of the organisation. Consequently, officials pursue their own benefit instead of performing tasks that are essential in accomplishing university goals.
This became a routine system as hundreds of students who never attended a single class at a university in their life, now consider getting a university degree by paying a sum of money to corrupted university officials. Think about, what this kind of graduate student will do when he takes charge of a position in a public or a private entity. Nevertheless, it is unfair practice for a student who studied systematically for years to see students who are graduating from a university who never attended for a class, and may even graduate before he completes his long awaited degree. On the other hand, this creates a culture that all students feel tired of the systematic education program, and might go all the way to receive a university degree with ease, and without even attending a single class.
The education system of a country is usually governed by the Ministry of Education. It’s very first target is to make sure that education system of the country is standard in every aspect and in every level. Somalia, as a country of fragile governance system have seen many set backs of human life for the past 30 years. The country has a Ministry of Education. Due to the circumstances and inability of the government to rule the country, the ministry do not control effectively the unlimited number of private universities. For this reason, the education system of private universities became far beyond reliable, quality – based, and effective.
In order to come out from this turmoil in the education system of the country, particularly at private universities, the Ministry of Education needs to be focusing on re-establishing a solid education system that controls all of the education institutions in the country. There must be some criteria followed by in giving universities a license to teach people. Finally, there must be quality control system in monitoring the education system and performance of universities.
Written by: Mr. Abdulkamal Mohamed Hassan Rage, Mss in Development Studies,MBA in Business Administration,
University Lecturer in Mogadishu – Somalia,
Managing Director at Raage Global Services, Mogadishu.