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With no permanent government and militant groups controlling large expanses of territory, Somalia was the best “failed state” for more than two decades.

Higher education all but collapsed: classes in the were indefinitely suspended in the early 1990s and just a few institutions continued to use.

Now, stability is returning and reconstruction is under way. The national university reopened just last year and the opportunity of advanced schooling is huge: three-quarters of the East African country’s population is younger than 30, while 46 % is below age of 15.

By using a government that continues to be fragile and ineffective with the Islamist militant group known as al-Shabab yet to be defeated, significant obstacles to the growth of universities remain.

This was highlighted in April with the attack on Garissa University College in Kenya, which was launched by al-Shabab from inside Somalia and left 147 people dead.

But Abdulkareem Jama, the executive vice-president of Mogadishu?s City University, argues that developing advanced schooling in Somalia is ?easier than [in] most places?.

I cannot imagine a country which you could come with an impact that is certainly so fundamental as regulating higher education or investing in place steps that may improve it, he stated. ?For the reason that political class is small and knows the other, it can be easier for people to come up with something, sell it off to the minister or president and put it in place.

Mr Jama, who returned to Somalia in 2009 from a successful career in america that spanned three decades, is obviously well connected: he served as a senior adviser to the Somalian president and then as being the country?s information minister before joining City University, a personal, not-for-profit institution.

Mr Jama told Times Advanced Schooling that regulation was the key challenge facing Somalia?s emerging higher education sector. After the return of peace to much of the nation, there has been a proliferation of for-profit universities, with about 40 now operating in the capital alone.

Few of their lecturers have PhDs and even master?s degrees and, while tuition is often in English, many for-profit universities will not provide English language training. Therefore, although these private universities make big profits, the strength of the training that can take place is questionable, Mr Jama said.

Generally in most countries, this would be an instance in which the government would be likely to part of but, in Somalia, academics are going to do it themselves.

City University, which recruits faculty from across Africa and additional afield and is one of the few universities to keep basic entry standards, is working together with similar institutions included in the Somali Research and Education Network.

This can be creating basic standards on issues like the academic qualifications of staff, facilities and curriculum content.

While the Ministry of Advanced Schooling should not be likely to enforce these standards yet, Mr Jama hopes the government can be persuaded to place this list of universities that meet them on its website.

Students will discover this and it will force other universities to fulfill these standards, Mr Jama said. ?This can be a catalyst for the shake-up which will be useful for the nation as well as the nation.

Even though this sounds not so difficult, to outside observers it could appear that security continues to be the major challenge which may hinder universities? efforts to attract researchers from the outside Somalia.

Most recently, an al-Shabab attack on the Ministry of Higher Education as well as other government departments in April left 17 people dead. But Mr Jama claimed that, despite the Garissa attack, al-Shabab had dexlpky23 clear that universities in Somalia were not much of a target.

This is a nuance which had been ?not lost on us?, according to Mr Jama, who argued that this dangers in Somalia were ?not anywhere close to the perception that individuals have?.

Things happen once in a while nevertheless it doesn?t stop the continent from developing, he added. “It doesn’t stop thousands of students going to university every day.”

Those students will be the key focus for universities within the research and education network, mainly because they offer Somalia?s brightest a solution to a much more prosperous future. Subjects offered at City University include civil engineering, political science, agriculture and business administration, all of these will be vital for development.

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