The Higher Colleges of Technology is forging close ties with the people of Somalia, as it works to implement steps to improve the standard of education in the troubled nation.
This relationship was recently strengthened when, late last month, Michael O’Brien, Associate Academic Dean of Education at HCT Central Academic Services, visited Somalia on behalf of the HCT.
Mr O’Brien was the keynote speaker at the first annual Improving the Quality of Education for Somali Speaking Children Conference, held in Hareisa, capital of the Somaliland region.
The conference, which was sponsored by USAid and the NGO
Educational Development Centre (EDC), was the first of its kind for the Horn of Africa region. It was chaired by former ADWC faculty member Dr Khadar Bashir-Ali, who is now the director of the EDC Teacher Training Project in Somalia.
On the eve of the conference, the HCT delegation was received by H.E. Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo, President of Somaliland at the
Presidential Palace in Hargeisa.
Mr. O’Brien’s keynote topic was “Successfully building international collaborations to foster and sustain local solutions in education”, where he used some examples from the rapidly-transforming educational environment in the UAE. Such examples included HCT’s long-standing and successful partnerships, such as that with the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education.
The keynote address was made in the presence of H.E. Abdirahman Saylici, Vice President of Somaliland; Mrs. ZamZam Aden, the Minister of Education; and the Director Generals of the Ministries of Education and Higher Education.
As part of the conference, Mr O’Brien also presented a workshop on how to immerse learners into the online world using pen and paper simulations, a practical exercise for local schools where computers and the Internet are rapidly penetrating.
Earlier this year, Somaliland President Silanyo met H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mubarak al Nahayan, Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research and HCT Chancellor during an official visit to the UAE. At that time H.E. Sheikh Nahayan offered support in educational areas.
During the visit to Somaliland, Mr O’Brien met with the Somaliland Minister of Education and ministerial officials to further explore
further how HCT could work with EDC to further support local education development within the school sector, and teacher training. Such steps discussed included providing library resources to the school and higher education sectors in Somalia and further ideas for faculty exchange and collaboration.
HCT will also assist in the producing a proceedings booklet from the conference, and Central Academic Services media technician Mahmoud Adan, who also attended the conference, will assist with videography of the event.
“After many years of strife and turmoil in the region, there
is a clear commitment and will in Somaliland, and the wider region, to rebuild and develop their educational infrastructure and re-imagine the quality of education for Somali children”, Mr O’Brien said.
“I believe it will be a very worthwhile and positive engagement for the HCT to be involved in helping this happen.”