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The danger with massive failure in exams for Somalia

The danger with massive failure in exams for Somalia


By Yunis Dekow

An umbrella body for schools in Somalia wants Education Minister Godah Barre fired for “creating a crisis” in the country, after thousands of candidates scored below average marks in national exams.

The School Association for Formal Education [SAFE]said the failures in the exams could create fertile grounds for criminals to emerge from among the school leavers. Failure in the exams would normally mean ineligibility to enter tertiary colleges, brutally ending the ambitions of many of the students.

The calls on Monday came after the Ministry revealed that as nine in ten students in Benadir may have failed in the national examinations this year in what could baffle policy makers on the state of education in the capital city region of Mogadishu.

The results announced by the Ministry of Education showed that 33720 students sat their secondary education tests this year across the country, except Puntland which ran its own tests. A significant number of 25177 students got above average grades meaning that the exam had more than two thirds of the students in the pass mark

Of the 8550 students who failed, 7873 of them came from Benadir region, the metropolis that includes Mogadishu city. The region fronted 25449 students, meaning that 75 per cent of those who sat the tests were from the capital region.

None of the 25,000 students from Mogadishu managed to appear in the top ten list of the best students.

Why did the capital region, a fairly developed region of the country which is often served by most of the basic amenities in the tail of the exam? Mr Barre told a news briefing on Sunday there had been many challenges including Covid-19 which meant social contacts were restricted.

There his poor quality of teachers, he said and that teachers were poorly paid. In fact, every region of Somalia faced those challenges, according to analysts. But the Minister did admit areas that border Kenya, for example, performed better because the children may have benefited from better quality of teachers across the border.

Some policy officials argued the results raised fears on the disconnect between the quality of education and the tests given to students.

Former Galmudug state president Abdikarim Hussein Guleid who, also a former minister of education, expressed concerns over the secondary school results.

“This is a shocking and indicative failure of the education system in the country from an academic point of view,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

He said the massive failure of the results and the fact that most of those in the tests were from Mogadishu made the results incredible.

The results come out amid fierce controversy over the system used in Puntland which has been discredited by the ministry of education in Mogadishu. Mogadishu insists Somalia will not recognise Puntland exams unless those students re-sit tests administered by the Federal government.

In the results released by the ministry of education, the top four students were from the Gedo region of Jubaland.

Sayid Omar Abdirahman from Gedo region emerged the best secondary student in the country with 92.43 per cent while Abdullahi Isse  got 92 per cent as Sahra Abdullahi Abukar also from Gedo region was third place 91.93 per cent. They were followed by Abdirahman Yusuf Omar who scored 91.86 per cent and Abdinur Hussein Mohamed at 91.86 per cent.

By By Yunis Dekow
Mr. Dekow is Broadcast and Digital editorial director at Dalsan Media English Service. He is also a writer, public information, media management and Strategic Communication expert.