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Filling the Void: Reflecting on the Absence of Creativity and Effectiveness in Somalia's Higher Education
By Mohamed Mukhtar Ibrahim
Saturday August 12, 2023


Embarking on my visits to universities in Mogadishu, where I engage in discussions with university students, is a privilege I hold in high regard. Witnessing their unwavering determination to pursue education despite their challenges is truly inspiring. However, amidst this admiration, two crucial elements persistently occupy my thoughts: Creativity and Effectiveness. As I interact with these bright minds, I question whether our higher education system nurtures the creative spark and practical prowess our nation desperately needs.

As I contemplate the state of higher education in Somalia, I cannot help but feel a growing concern that we are overlooking two critical aspects that should be at the forefront of our discussions: creativity and effectiveness. While quality remains a central topic, the absence of these two pillars in the conversation leaves me wondering if we are preparing our students for the challenges of the modern world.

When I think of creativity, I am reminded of how essential it is for navigating the complexities of today's rapidly changing landscape. In a nation like Somalia, which is rebuilding after years of turmoil, creativity is not a luxury but a necessity. It's not confined to the realm of arts; it's a mindset that fosters innovation and problem-solving. Our education system, emphasising memorisation and rote learning, leaves little room for cultivating this crucial skill.

Take, for instance, a recent conversation I had with a university graduate. This individual struggled to think critically or offer innovative solutions to real-world problems despite earning a degree. Their education had taught them what to think, not how to think. It made me wonder how many more graduates were out there, armed with degrees but lacking the ability to adapt, create, and innovate.

My concern deepens as I explore the notion of effectiveness in higher education. More than measuring success by high enrolment rates or the number of diplomas issued is required. It is about preparing our students to thrive as citizens and contributors to society. Yet, I see a gap between classroom learning and the practical skills required in the real world. The disconnect between academia and industry often leaves graduates unprepared for the challenges they'll face in their careers.

So, how do we address these gaps? How do we infuse creativity and effectiveness into Somalia's higher education system? It starts with transformative change. We need innovative curricula that promote critical thinking and problem-solving across disciplines. Collaborations with industries can provide students with hands-on experiences, helping them bridge the gap between theory and practice.

Imagine if our higher education institutions adopted project-based learning approaches. Students could collaborate on real-world challenges, applying their knowledge to find innovative solutions. These projects would foster creativity and prepare students for the diverse challenges they'll face in their careers.

My concern is not a critique; it's a call for action. It's a reminder that we have the power to shape the future of higher education in Somalia. Let's reimagine our approach, focusing on fostering creativity and effectiveness. Let's empower educators with modern teaching methodologies and encourage open discussions that stimulate critical thinking. By doing so, we can ensure that our graduates have degrees and the skills to contribute meaningfully to our nation's progress.

Let's take creativity and effectiveness into this uncharted frontier of higher education. Let's integrate them into every aspect of our educational journey so that our students are not just graduates but creative thinkers and effective problem solvers who can navigate the challenges of our time.

Mohamed Mukhtar Ibrahim
[email protected]


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