Somalia Teachers Day

Celebrating the unsung heroes shaping the paths of Somalia’s best and brightest

Being a teacher is more than being the person who stands at the front of a classroom. Somali teachers bring learning to life, advocate for education, keep their students safe, and much more. From academics to journalists and activists, these five Somalis discuss how teachers impacted their lives in celebration of Somalia Teachers Day on November 21.

Hussein Sabrie — Inspired by Strong Character

Freelance Storyteller at BBC Somalia and Communications Director at Somali Research and Education Network

“My favorite Professor of all time was my computer networking course professor, Engineer Mohamud Jimale, the former President of Jamhuriya University. He was different from any other lecturer who taught me. Although I forget most of the specific lessons, I still remember his humanity, honesty, and integrity. He was humble, punctual, ever smiling, and respectful to the students. He was a role model of kindness and compassion. He always encouraged us to give charity and be kind to needy people. I will never forget his kind words and the interesting moral stories he used to tell us when he felt we were bored. I remember how he used to mentor us and his willingness to win our hearts and change our attitudes all the time.  He had a lot of teaching experience and would often give us real-life examples to train us “on-the-job”.  Some debts are difficult to repay. I will always be indebted to my beloved Professor, Mohamud Ahmed Jimale for all he taught me.”

Bahja Ali Shuriye — Inspired to Believe in Herself

Lecturer and Head of Women Enterprises Development at SIMAD Innovation iLab

“My favorite teacher was Mr. Abdikadir, who taught me math in Grade 6. Mr. Abdikadir used to encourage us to compete in solving difficult mathematical calculations in our grade for a cash prize. It motivated me to take on the challenge of quickly solving my math exercises. To receive the award, we had to answer all exercise questions correctly. Every Wednesday, I would answer the questions correctly and win 1,000 shillings ($1.75) from Mr. Abdikadir, which I would spend on sambusa and ice-cream. I was the only one who received that award on a weekly basis, which made me feel happy. I quickly mastered multiplication tables, and Mr. Abdikadir asked me to help others as his assistant. I have always enjoyed mathematics and even aspired to be a mathematician. Mr. Abdikadir encouraged me to stay focused on my schoolwork. Above all, he inspired me to believe in my younger self!”

Abdifatah Hassan Ali — Inspired to Learn English

Blogger, Human Rights Activist, Co-Founder of Digital Shelter

“My favorite schoolteacher was Ustad Shaafici Abdiaziz, our English teacher and football coach. He’s the reason why I learned the language and we liked him because of the extracurricular activities he used to organize for us on Wednesdays.”

Farhia Dini — Inspired to be Considerate and Disciplined

Studying MSc in Economic Development at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan

“I respect and admire all my teachers, but my favorite teacher is Mr. Abdibasid, who taught me in Grade 4. I remember I was a naughty little child. We used to play and speak inside the class during the session, which of course, irritated my teacher.  One day, Mr. Abdibasid gave us a test on which I performed well but received only two marks out of 10! I was upset and went to ask about my mistakes. Mr. Abdibasid replied that although I had gotten a good grade, he decided to deduct points from me because despite my brilliance and efforts, I had bad manners. He told me how “knowledge is nothing without good manners”. That message struck home. From that day, I always sat at the front of the class and behaved well. I not only appreciate the lessons he taught me but the discipline he instilled as well.”

Leyla Mohamed — Inspired to Become a journalist

Journalist and Editor at Radio Ergo, Member of Global Shapers – Mogadishu Hub

“My favorite teacher was Mr. Farah. He taught me Somali in sixth grade. I was good at writing and vocabulary, and Mr. Farah used to encourage me to continue to improve my writing and read Somali texts. After finishing high school, I studied journalism at college. Our assignments required us to present weekly news by reading and synthesizing different papers and articles. My classmates found it difficult, but not me. I was not afraid because I had practice with analyzing and writing, thanks to Mr. Farah.  Later, I wanted to join a radio station. They wanted to hire someone with excellent Somali reading and writing skills. Nearly 10 people, including me, were tested. Some people tried to discourage me because I was one of the youngest applicants. To everyone’s surprise, another lady and I got the job! I would not have come this far if it wasn’t for my teacher. He encouraged me to always do better and as a result, I have been able to achieve so much. Now, I work to improve Somali writing and help colleagues and others script high quality reports.”

Teachers Going Above and Beyond

In addition to working as public school teachers, some educators in Somalia take on extra work to help out-of-school children and youth catch up through the Bar ama Baro accelerated education program.

Bar ama Baro recruited and trained more than 25,000 accelerated basic education teachers and headteachers to provide quality education to over 100,000 students in 32 districts in Banadir, Hirshabelle, Southwest and Jubaland. The program provides ongoing support in the classroom and believes that supporting teachers with training, textbooks teacher guides and teaching and learning materials will have a positive impact on students learning outcomes.

Bar ama Baro is funded by the United States Agency for International Development in partnership with Somalia’s Ministry of Education, Culture, and Higher Education.

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