Higher Education in Somalia (1954-1990)
The higher education in Somalia began in 1954 and by 1970
Somali National University was established.
By 1985, Somali National University had 15 faculties and
succeeded to graduate 7431students.
The civil war destroyed, among others, National University
buildings, library, equipments and its properties.
This university was completely closed in 1990. Higher institutions in Somalia were academically and economically dependent on foreign assistance. “Cooperazione Italiano” was the main financier for the Somali National University. As a result, Italian professors were the corner stone of the academic staff and Italian the corner stone of the academic staff and Italian language was the main language for the instruction of the university. Besides that, many students were sent to friendly countries to attain higher degrees in many scientific fields. Former Soviet Union, China, Egypt and Italy were the major countries offering Somali students scholarships and training in their countries. After the establishment of the Somali National University, students of the university were not only given free education, housing, food and medical care, but also offered monthly honorarium and secured government jobs after their graduation. The impact of the university in the social change was so immense that locally trained medical doctors, engineers, agriculturalists, veterinarians and specialists on arts and literature were visible in all institutions of the state and in every corner of Somalia.
MOGADISHU UNIVERSITY: FROM A DREAM TO THE REALITY
During the civil war, National University buildings, library, equipments and all its properties were completely destroyed. The academic and administrative staff were killed, migrated and displaced. The hope for new generation of Somalis to attain higher education was severely dashed and with it the future of the Somali nation. The people of Somalia, who were accustomed to free education from elementary level up to the university, have seen their children playing with bullets, bombs and joining organized gangs, thugs and clan militia. There were no public education and schools, and university facilities were occupied by displaced people and some of them were converted into warehouses and business sites. The few remaining academics and professors were idle and unemployed. In that difficult context, the idea of establishing Mogadishu University emerged along with reviving basic education with the community’s initiatives. As a result, hundreds of schools have been opened including primary, intermediate, secondary and technical institutes. In 1995, the city of Mogadishu celebrated the graduation of the first 20 students from the secondary school of Umul-Qura in the district of Bondhere in Mogadishu, since the break out of the civil war in 1991.
In June 1993, the idea of establishing non-state university came about when a number of professors from the former Somali National University and other prominent Somali intellectuals met in Mogadishu to discuss the possibilities of continuing education for some faculties of the destroyed Somali National University. However, due to the legal concerns, the group decided to form a non-profit and non-state institution for higher education under the name of “University of Eastern Africa”. The aim of that project was to provide opportunities for the students of the faculties of Islamic Studies and Languages to complete their course work. This initiative was founded in privately owned house in the Southern part of Mogadishu. However, the flares of the civil war had reached the university site and after a week of its opening, the warring militias looted all its properties including furniture, books, vehicles and documents. As a result, the project was temporarily suspended.
In July 20, 1995, the same group convened again and concluded the priority was to form a “National Institution for Private Education” (NIPE) that would promote community based education and develop further the idea of establishing a university by the year 2000. They also discussed the proposal of establishing “Teachers Training Institute” (TTI) proposed by one of the local NGO. The rationale behind the idea of TTI was to meet the emerging need for qualified teachers for the newly established community schools all over the country. Finally, a committee under NIPE was formed to study the proposal and to report to the group in their next annual meeting.
In August 9, 1996 the group met again and listened to reports and proposals of the designated committee. As a surprise to the group, the committee tabled a challenging proposal to establish a fully-fledged non-governmental university before the year 2000. The proposal received enthusiasm, support and acclamation of all founding members.
In that meeting, “Mogadishu University” as the name of the projected university was approved. The preparatory committee was given full mandate to work towards opening the university. To explore further the idea, members of the committee visited many universities in Yemen, Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Sudan and Egypt. At the end of the trip, the committee was fully convinced of the feasibility of opening the university within a year and launched rigorous planning to meet the timeline schedule for opening Mogadishu University on 22 September 2007.
In September 22, 1997, the dream of opening Mogadishu University became a reality and it was officially opened in a small room in the presence of four of the founding members and five teaching staff. The first campus of MU was located in the former Mohamud Ahmed Ali Secondary School. However, after local militia took over the university, MU moved to the renovated Sinai Hotel at General Daud Street. Moreover, with the expansion of MU, different scattered locations in Mogadishu were used.
Finally, MU moved to its new campus in the academic year 2005/2006. The road to the establishment of MU was not furnished with roses. Substantial planning, extensive traveling and fund-raising efforts were invested in the years of (1993-1997).
The initial vision and heroic decision to work towards instituting a community nonprofit university was unbelievable in the mindset of war-torn community and divided city of Mogadishu. Moreover, the community and their leaders were lacking in faith of the possibility of establishing university believing that only governments could do such projects. Furthermore, besides the impoverishment of the community at large, the culture of paying for education was absent. These challenges were dealt with in early years of the university.
Mogadishu University Campuses:
MU has a presence and major campuses in Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia, and also a campus in Bosaso, Puntlad State of Somalia. The main campus is in Mogadishu which has other several branches in Mogadishu as to accommodate the increasing number of students year after year. These branches include: 4 branches in Hodan District especially in KM4, and other 3 branches in Wadajir District (2 in Bulahubay area and 1 near Adan Adde International Airport). Despite these branches which are teaching purposes, the university has its own administration building in Hodan District, KM4.