EDMONTON, March 10, 2014 /CNW/ - The University of Alberta (U of A)
Faculty of Education is helping revive a Somali university ravaged by
In the early 1990s, Somali National University (SNU) was forced to
suspend classes when conflict decimated the East African country. After
more than two decades of violence, Somalia has now achieved a level of
stability necessary for its government to start rebuilding
infrastructure. In November 2013, officials announced that it would be
finally be reviving SNU, at an expected cost of $3.6 million USD.
The U of A Faculty of Education has stepped up to help with a critical
part of this massive project: the recreation of SNU's Faculty of
"As we speak, the level of education in the country is extremely weak.
The majority of people have no education at all," explains Dr. Ali
Abdi, a U of A education professor and co-director of the Centre for
Global Citizenship Education and Research. As a result, there are very
few teachers in the country. "If you don't have teachers, the quality
of education will be weak and undeveloped. In that sense, a faculty of
education is extremely important," he says.
In 2013, SNU's newly appointed rector and a former Edmontonian - Dr.
Mohamed Jimale - visited campus on two occasions to discuss how the U
of A could help SNU. It was decided that the faculty would help meet
the immediate need for resources (specifically books for SNU's
education library) and a long-term need for staff training.
For several months, Dr. George Richardson, associate dean of
international initiatives, with the aid of an informal "Somali National
University Contact Group" from across the Faculty, gathered up-to-date academic books from other faculty members to send to
SNU. In March 2014, the faculty mailed more than 400 books. Those books
have now arrived in Mogadishu and, hopefully will be in the shelves of
SNU's library very soon.
At the moment, Richardson and Ali are working with UNESCO, SNU officials
- including both Jimale and the new faculty's dean, U of A alumnus
Fouzia Warsame - to plan for seminars for future staff. U of A faculty
members will donate their time and expertise for these sessions, which
will likely be held just over the border, in Nairobi, Kenya. Online
workshops aren't possible because of a lack of technological
The U of A Faculty of Education has a long history of international
development work, says Richardson. A few years ago, the U of A Faculty
of Education and CMASTE made headlines when it helped several Iraqi institutions rebuild their
teacher education programs after the war. The faculty has also led projects in Tanzania, South
Africa and several other African nations. "In the broadest sense, we
see it this work as fundamental to our mandate as a teacher education
institution and the idea of global citizenship," says Richardson.
SOURCE: University of Alberta Faculty of Education
For further information:
Dr. George Richardson
Dr. Ali Abdi