Exploring the Void: Contemplating the Lack of Creativity and Effectiveness in Somalia’s Higher Education
By Mohamed Mukhtar Ibrahim
Saturday August 12, 2023
It is an immense privilege for me to visit universities in Mogadishu and engage in discussions with university students. I hold great admiration for their unwavering determination to pursue education despite the challenges they face. However, amidst this admiration, there are two crucial elements that constantly occupy my thoughts: Creativity and Effectiveness. As I interact with these brilliant minds, I am left pondering whether our higher education system fosters the creative spark and practical skills that our nation so desperately needs.
When contemplating the state of higher education in Somalia, I cannot help but feel a growing concern that we are overlooking two critical aspects: creativity and effectiveness. While the quality of education remains a central topic, the absence of these two pillars in our discussions raises questions about whether we are adequately preparing our students for the challenges of the modern world.
When I think of creativity, I am reminded of its essential role in navigating the complexities of today’s rapidly changing landscape. In a nation like Somalia, which is in the process of rebuilding after years of turmoil, creativity is not a luxury but an absolute necessity. It goes beyond the realm of arts; it is a mindset that fosters innovation and problem-solving. Unfortunately, our education system, which places heavy emphasis on memorization and rote learning, leaves little room for cultivating this crucial skill.
Let me share an example from a recent conversation I had with a university graduate. Despite having earned a degree, this individual struggled to think critically or offer innovative solutions to real-world problems. Their education had taught them what to think, but not how to think. This made me wonder how many more graduates are out there, armed with degrees but lacking the ability to adapt, create, and innovate.
My concern deepens as I reflect on the notion of effectiveness in higher education. Merely measuring success based on high enrolment rates or the number of diplomas issued falls short. We must prepare our students to thrive as active citizens and valuable contributors to society. However, there seems to be a disconnect between classroom learning and the practical skills necessary in the real world, leaving graduates ill-equipped to face the challenges of their careers.
So, how do we address these gaps? How can we infuse creativity and effectiveness into Somalia’s higher education system? It all begins with transformative change. We need innovative curricula that promote critical thinking and problem-solving across all disciplines. Collaborations with industries can provide students with valuable hands-on experiences, bridging 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 not only foster creativity but also prepare students for the diverse challenges they will encounter in their careers.
My concern is not a critique; it is a call to action. It is a reminder that we have the power to shape the future of higher education in Somalia. Let us reimagine our approach, focusing on nurturing creativity and effectiveness. Let us empower educators with modern teaching methodologies and encourage open discussions that stimulate critical thinking. By doing so, we can ensure that our graduates possess not only degrees but also the skills to contribute meaningfully to our nation’s progress.
Let us embrace creativity and effectiveness as we venture into this uncharted frontier of higher education. Let us integrate them into every aspect of our educational journey, so that our students evolve into not just graduates, but creative thinkers and effective problem solvers who can successfully navigate the challenges of our time.
Mohamed Mukhtar Ibrahim