Somaliland: A City Congested With Universities and Vehicles: My Observations in Hargiesa

The development and utilization of effective mechanisms for quality assurance and improvement are critical to successful higher education everywhere. Every nation and its university graduates are competing in an environment shaped by its own local and national needs as well as international expectations and standards. The impacts of the latter are increasing. As a result, the success and competitiveness of graduates in tertiary institutions will be affected by those standards and expectations. Educators, policy makers, and faculty members would be well advised to assess their own tertiary systems in that context and strive to set appropriate standards of their own which also draw on and reflect the unique history, needs, and expectations of the nation.

Quality means that goals are fit for purpose – meeting or conforming to generally accepted standards as defined by quality assurance bodies and appropriate academic and professional communities. In this world where economic development is set by the human capital among others, a nation can be successful by how strong it assures the production of highly qualified professionals from the different subsectors that are to be given more priority so that proper economic achievement are targeted as per the set goals.

My observations and discussions I had with people in Hargiesa has prompted me to write my reflection on the number of universities I have observed there and the overcrowded cars that I was afraid of hitting me any time for I am not familiar with the plenty of cars in very narrow roads without pedestrian crossings. I have asked myself and to some of my old friends in Hargiesa on how quality control serves when it comes to dealing with quality in education in Somaliland in general and in Hargiesa in particular.

Can Hargiesa host more than 13 universities and colleges and what quality control is in place? This is a question that I have forwarded to people I met at teashops and hotels during my stay in Hargiesa and most of the answers I received had their pillars on profit making but few spoke about quality and the fate of future productive human capital who will have the biggest impact on the future generations that are yet to come.

I was told that students decide on who will teach them a course as a precondition to register in the university so that the course and the examination will be handled in the way they see appropriate in order to pave way for them to earn better grades. I did not see that as a problem but what caught my attention was that if any instructor makes things hard and goes by the norms of being too strict in grading and marks, students will urgently request from the management to change the instructor that will eventually make the customer a king and quality will be compromised in this manner.

I had a discussion with a colleague of mine who was visiting Hargiesa for the first time, on his thoughts about the number of universities we have observed and how this can affect the quality of education compared to other areas he has visited. My colleague articulated that it is good to see education in high demand here in Hargiesa and that people are well aware of the importance of education but when it comes to quality, he said, competition is very high these days and globalization has enabled people to have access to quality education but those who have earned their degrees without proper quality in place will suffer the consequence when they compete for jobs and this will force them to get back to universities to build their capacity again.

With rapid urbanization and growth, motorization has accelerated in Hargiesa but in a sustainable urban transport system that requires strengthening various features of the system including mobility, accessibility, safety, security, convenience and comfort. In order to achieve all these elements, various challenges need to be addressed in an integrated manner. These challenges include improving human health through the reduction of urban air pollution, tackling climate change, reducing the number of deaths and injuries from road accidents, controlling excessive motorization, improving public transport services, encouraging more walking and cycling, and recognizing the specific needs of urban poor, women, the elderly, people with disabilities, youth, and children. It is critically important to understand that urban transport (or mobility) is not an isolated issue and is related to many other aspects of urban life in general.

I can understand that the Government in Hargiesa lacks the international recognition to get loans for road infrastructure development but what I have observed is also lack of proper rules and regulations that would have reduced the congestion and to my understanding there is also the need to look into the institutional capacity of the universities before granting accreditation that will keep the quality up to the required standards.

Hussien Mohamed Yusuf
Jijiga, Ethiopia