Kenyan School In Somaliland Named Best In The Country.
The Elm Schools is a Kenyan school located in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.
Hargeisa has a population of over a million people, while the country as a whole has slightly more than 5 million people.
Somaliland is still fighting for international recognition as a sovereign state, 31 years after the civil war ended.
While its citizens have the freedom to access formal education, education experts believe that the education system is not strategically placed due to deficiencies in the sector.
The Elm Schools, located in the heart of Hargeisa, was founded in 2007. The institution’s excellence is attributed, among other things, to the number of Kenyan teachers employed and teaching the Kenyan curriculum, which is considered very robust, in an effort to close the country’s literacy gap.
The Kenyan curriculum supplements Somaliland teachers’ Islamic education.
The school, which is entirely owned by a Kenyan-Somali, is not only the best in Somaliland, but also the most outstanding international school in Africa, according to Accreditation Service for International Schools (ASIC).
ASIC is an independent quality assurance body based in the United Kingdom that specializes in the institutional accreditation of education providers.
The school’s reputation is owed to the over 85 Kenyan teachers who have been hired to fill a curriculum gap that has persisted due to insufficient human resource capacity.
The population is predominantly Muslim, and Somaliland teachers prioritize Islamic, Quran, and Arabic education.
“Our curriculum is Kenyan and that is why we have the Kenyan staff. We got into CBC just like the Kenyan system, but now here we do an integrated system,” says Silvia Nzilani, the school’s head teacher.
“We cannot fit in the kind of CBC because of the materials and everything required there. But we integrated 8:4:4 and CBC.”
Somaliland is a one-of-a-kind country. People here do not work on Thursdays and Fridays for cultural and religious reasons.
In Kenya, weekends are Saturdays and Sundays, but in Somali they are Thursdays and Fridays, so they adapt.”When you go to Rome, you become Romans,” Ms. Nzilani explains.
There are 2400 students in both primary and secondary schools, with 53 classes in primary and 17 classes in secondary.
There are 142 teachers in total, including 87 Kenyan teachers.
However, due to the high demand for the school, even the 53 classes in both lower and upper primary cannot accommodate the number of learners, so students come in morning and afternoon shifts to learn the necessary skills.
“When it comes to recruitment, we go down to Kenya and do interviews and take only qualified teachers and all our teachers are registered members of TSC back in Kenya,” Benson Samia, the school’s head of Human Resources says.
Most of them had to change a lot in terms of cultural and religious adaptation to fit in with Somaliland residents.
After years of struggle due to the language barrier, some can now speak Somali fluently.
“Of course it was a different nation so the first time I landed here there was that culture shock… in terms of dress code and food I had to change a lot to fit in,” Nzilani says.
“Sometimes I miss the Kenyan way of life of going out and wearing whatever you want because, you know, here it is a little restricted,” says Antoninah Anyango, a math teacher. “I also miss ugali and greens .”
Despite this, they claim to have managed to stay together as a family here.
On maintaining the Kenyan spirit, Mr. Samia says: “Whenever there is celebration like Madaraka in Kenya, we also celebrate together as Kenyans just to keep the Kenyan spirit going. We do nyama choma and ugali and so on.”
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Their story is similar to that of over 9,000 Kenyans working in Somaliland in various sectors and capacities, helping to boost the economies of both countries, demonstrating their resilience in the right environment and resources.