Somaliland’s proud students in Yemen
By Ahmed Mohamoud Elmi – Shawky
The Chairman of Somaliland Students in Yemen
A graduation ceremony was organised in the University of Science & Technology’s main campus (Sana’a) hall on Friday 2nd of April by the Union of Somaliland Students in Yemen and was attended by Somaliland officials, students, foreign lecturers and other distinguished guests.
The ceremony was named in honour of Daallo mountains, in the Sanag region of Somaliland. Indeed very beautiful and inspiring place and in this occasion it was chosen to symbolize the students reaching new heights and peak in education and also to reflect on the student’s various fields of expertise and for their determination for the betterment of their country.
In total, ten students, half of whom were young inspiring girls graduated in the faculties of Engineering, Agriculture, Media (Mass Communication), Pharmacology, Laboratories, Accounting & Business Administration and Computer Science.
Most of these students have been studying in the last four years in some of Yemen’s finest universities and colleges including University of Science & Technology, Sana’a University, Queen Arwa university and the International College (a college affiliated to the university of Science & Technology). The graduates include a young girl who received her Masters in business administration.
Last year, similar number of students have graduated from Engineering, Information & Communication Technologies and Business – all of them have successfully returned to Somaliland.
Similarly, many of this year’s graduates have the intention of returning back home and hopefully work there, while others want to further their education. Most these students pay their own tuition and accommodation, so they can stay and proceed their studies if time and circumstances allow them, or they have another option of joining other universities elsewhere. An important thing worth noting is that most of the Somaliland Students in Yemen study different fields, which gives them greater chances than those studying similar faculties.
The total number of Somaliland students currently in Yemen are quite large, and they are spread in the different regions of the country. Although the student’s union registered a total of 200 students, who filled the Unions admission requirements; however there are a large number of them studying in Islamic Institutions such as Ma’bar and Dammaj (centers for Islamic teachings). Many also come from abroad and stay here at least during the summer, while others come from Europe and America who want to further their Islamic teachings from such Islamic institutions.
Student’s Living conditions:
Most of the students live in rent apartments or houses, few of them get the opportunity to live in a dormitories. Part of these dormitories are paid so students interesting such option pay the residence expense. Some of the universities have affordable apartments on their premises but they can be hard to obtain one.
The living conditions are not so bad but challenging, however students manage their livelihoods one way or another. Students are aware of each other and support one another as much as they can.
Yemen gives Somaliland students 15 scholarships each year. Ten students in undergraduate vacancies and another five are given positions in technical and further education colleges. Some of these students are selected from the Somaliland community in Yemen, but the main number always comes back home.
However, it is worth to mention that many of these positions are vacant and are not filled up by our students. This is because students often arrive late in Yemen when admissions have been completed or they are turned down because the Yemeni Ministry of Education does not recognize Somaliland’s GCSE certificate. If they are not refused, their applications are often delayed and many start their educations a year later. Another problem facing these students is related to the visa arrangements process, admissions and transportation.
Many students come late to Yemen because often the visa process takes forever and It is not yet clear, how the new Yemeni office in Hargeisa will solve or address some of these issues. Whatever the case, we believe a solution could lay within the context of the following points:
- Students should know Arabic prior to their arrivals, so that they do not waste the scholarship opportunity
- All students should take into consideration possible delays including political, economic and accomodations and should apply early. Normally, the Yemeni school year runs from September to the following June with a long summer holiday in the months of July and August. It is important for students to be in Yemen by this time and not after two or three months.
- To simplify visa requirements and processes for the students. The ministries concerned should raise this issue with Yemeni officials.
- The government needs to convince the Yemeni government that our certificate meets international standards.
- The Somaliland Office in Yemen should help students get visa on time, arrive early and begin studies within a short period of time.
- Some students never get the field of study they like despite their high marks, so this issues should be also discussed with Yemeni officials.
The Union of Somaliland Students in Yemen is an independent, non-governmental, non-profit organization working voluntarily for the betterment and development of Somaliland students in Yemen. The organization was founded by a group of students and was officially established in 2006 by H.E President Rayale, during his official visit to the Republic of Yemen.
The organization acts as a network for Somaliland students in Yemen, giving them awareness programs, guidance and consultations in course selections and helping students choose the right field and career. The organization also gives information to students interested in knowing or joining Yemeni universities. Once students arrive in Yemen, the organization welcomes and takes them from the airport to temporary hostiles prepared for them, helping them settle and adapt with the new environment.
University admissions and sometimes visa preparations are some of the tasks that the organization performs for the students. Although the organization works voluntarily and without financial support and donation from any where, yet it is one of the most effective, component and well-managed student organizations outside Somaliland.
The organization organizes ceremonies, festivals and sometimes debates. All students in Yemen act as one cell, and the organization has the intention to widen it’s activities into broader fields and projects for the coming years.
Besides that, the organization works under some constraints and challenges. To mention some, finance is a major obstacle plus the fact that the hosting country does not deal directly with Somaliland as an independent state.
Somaliland’s lack of international recognition, sometimes delays or at least has it’s impact one way or another on the organization’s work. We are still received as part of what was the Somali Republic more than 18 years ago and we know, we are not alone, as many of you have experienced similar situations in different countries. But, our goal is clear; no politics, 100 per cent dedication in education and self-support.
Somaliland Office in Yemen:
The memorandum of understanding between Somaliland and Yemen late 1990s, paved the way to the establishment of Somaliland office in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a. The office was officially inaugurated in 1998 as the current deputy chairman Mr Gudal informed us, but it was lacking vision and resources at the beginning. It’s top priority is to strengthen economical ties between Somaliland and Yemen, and the Office gives little attention to students in Yemen.
However, students work closely with the office having in mind that half of loaf is better than none. Some complaints about this office are on the ground such as: giving little or no attention to students, it is also incompetent, lacks direction and vision, does not engagement with students, etc.
As far as the students are concerned they have proposed a number solutions to the ongoing certificate problems and students late arrivals which they discussed with both the trade office and Ministry of Education but they all turned deaf ears.
The organization questions, why such opportunities are spoiled and wasted while many students back are eager to get higher educations and join a university. For the last three years, many opportunities were lost – take for example, last year, only four out of the ten possible students arrived in Yemen, six just gave up because they did not receive the help and information they required.
The organization on it’s side has addressed these issues and similar ones to the appropriate departments, but it seems that up to now it is a major problem ahead of every Somaliland student planning to study in Yemen.
The above mentioned information is just small portion of the reality that lies on the ground. Somaliland students in Yemen have in mind that there is no lift to success but one has to take the stairs. life doesn’t always take the straight path but it has it’s ups and downs, and the very thing we learned here in Yemen is patience.
Somaliland students from Yemen never fill their cup of patience. In short, Yemen is a challenging environment for students but these challenges can be solved easily if the student shows commitment, dedication, hard work and patience.
Ahmed Mohamoud Elmi – Shawky
The Chairman of Somaliland Students in Yemen