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

Advanced schooling all but collapsed: classes in the were indefinitely suspended in early 1990s and only a few institutions continued to operate.

Now, stability is returning and reconstruction is under way. The national university reopened a year ago and the potential of higher education is large: three-quarters in the East African country’s population is younger than 30, while 46 % is below age 15.

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

It was highlighted in April by 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 higher education in Somalia is ?easier than [in] most places?.

I cannot imagine a country which you could provide an impact that may be so fundamental as regulating higher education or setting up place steps that will improve it, he was quoted saying. ?As the political class is small, and knows the other, it really is easier for people like us to make something, sell it for the minister or president and put it into place.

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

Mr Jama told Times Higher Education that regulation was the real key challenge facing Somalia?s emerging higher education sector. Following the return of peace to much of the country, we have seen a proliferation of for-profit universities, with about 40 now operating in the capital alone.

Few of their lecturers have PhDs or perhaps master?s degrees and, while tuition is often in English, many for-profit universities usually do not provide English language training. Therefore, although these private universities make big profits, the effectiveness of the educational that takes place is questionable, Mr Jama said.

In the majority of countries, this is a case the location where the government will be expected to part in but, in Somalia, academics are performing it themselves.

City University, which recruits faculty from across Africa and further afield and is probably the few universities to keep up basic entry standards, is working with similar institutions as part of the Somali Research and Education Network.

This is certainly drawing up basic standards on issues including the academic qualifications of staff, facilities and curriculum content.

Even though Ministry of Higher Education cannot be likely to enforce these standards yet, Mr Jama hopes the government can be persuaded to set this list of universities that meet them on its website.

Students will spot this and it will force other universities to fulfill these standards, Mr Jama said. ?This could be a catalyst to get a shake-up which is useful for the nation along with the nation.

Even if this sounds simple enough, to outside observers it could appear that security remains the major challenge which may hinder universities? efforts to attract researchers from outside Somalia.

Recently, an al-Shabab attack around the Ministry of Higher Education and also other government departments in April left 17 people dead. But Mr Jama stated that, regardless of the Garissa attack, al-Shabab had dexlpky23 clear that universities in Somalia were not really a target.

This became a nuance which had been ?not lost on us?, in accordance with Mr Jama, who argued that this dangers in Somalia were ?not anywhere close to the perception that men and women have?.

Things happen from time to time nevertheless it doesn?t stop the nation from developing, he added. “It doesn’t stop 1000s of students going to university every day.”

Those students are the key focus for universities inside the research and education network, 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, which all will likely be vital for development.

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