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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Somali education coalition releases unified curriculum

By Abdi Moalim in Mogadishu

  • Displaced Somali girls attend a lesson at the Manahijta elementary school in Mogadishu on March 31, 2010. [Mustafa Abdi/AFP]

  • An education coalition representing 1,130 private schools across Somalia has unveiled a curriculum that will serve as a blueprint for standardising primary and secondary instruction nationwide.

    The coalition comprises seven organisations: the Formal Private Education Network in Somalia (FPENS), the School Organisation for Formal Education (SOFE), the Somali Formal Education Network (SOFEN), the Somali Formal Education Link (SOFEL), the Schools Association for Formal Education (SAFE), the Formal Education Network for Private Schools (FENPS) and the Somali Education Development Association (SEDA).

    The organisations presented their proposed curriculum, which took three years to complete, at FPENS headquarters on May 16th, with federal government officials in attendance.

    Somalia has gone without a unified national curriculum to guide educators since the fall of the Mohamed Siad Barre government in 1991.

    "We used the previous national curriculum [that was in effect before the civil war] and curricula used in schools now as a reference guide and model," Mohamed Farah Ali, co-ordinator of the groups that co-wrote the curriculum, told Sabahi. "Its foundation is Islam and our good culture."

    The education organisations set about creating the curriculum because schools managed by each of the seven groups followed a different curriculum and term schedule and were turning out students with varying education levels, SAFE director Abdirahman Moalim Ablal said.

    "What we have prepared [is a composite of] the different curricula used by [schools] with the aim of unifying the education of Somali students," Ablal told Sabahi. "Agreeing on one curriculum will make it easier to have one examination schedule for the school term. This will also streamline the differing education levels of the students."

    In addition, the curriculum keeps in mind that some schools teach in Somali, while others instruct in Arabic or English, he said, adding that this should make it easy for schools to conform to the curriculum irrespective of the language in which subjects are taught. The schools will be using the same textbooks translated in the various target languages.

    Officials representing the coalition said the new curriculum would be mandatory in their schools starting in the 2013-2014 academic year, while other schools are welcome to adopt it at their discretion.

    "We had no political agenda in this project and we have no intention of pressuring the government or anyone else to implement it," Ablal said.

    The federal government welcomed the curriculum and praised the coalition for their initiative.

    Common national values

    Arabow Ibrahim Nur, acting director of the education department in the Ministry of Development and Social Affairs, said the government would evaluate the curriculum and use it as a blueprint for its own standardised curriculum.

    "[The proposed curriculum] is a first step, but we want to include all the Somali people so they can add their ideas to this curriculum," he told Sabahi.

    "We are creating a national education policy that will finally resolve problems related to [our] education system," he said. "We will accelerate work on the curriculum so that we succeed in getting a unified national curriculum in the coming months."

    Abdullahi Ahmed Maalin, 19, a high school student in Mogadishu, said the new curriculum is a positive development that gives schools an opportunity to promote common national values.

    "Whenever we meet for an educational debate, we cannot even agree on nationalism," he said, underscoring that foreign influences in education and other aspects of life since the civil war have compromised Somali ideals.
    "Some of us defend Arab views, some Western and others Asian," he said. "The reason is that students have not been taught with the same goals; I mean we lack a unified national goal."

    Having a curriculum developed by Somalis would foster understanding and dialogue among youths and help support Somali ideals, Maalin said.

    Pentagon: U.S. drone crashed in Somalia

    The Pentagon confirmed Tuesday that an unmanned U.S. drone crashed near the Somali coast but it said it had not been shot down by Al Shabab, a radical Islamist group linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

    A Defense Department spokesman told the daily Politico on Tuesday that "During the course of a routine surveillance mission along the coast of Somalia on (Monday) May 27, a military remotely piloted aircraft crashed in a remote area near the shoreline of Mogadishu," the Somali capital.

    Al Shabab wrote on its Twitter account, including alleged photos of the crashed drone, that "This one will no longer be able to spy on Muslims again. So much for the empty rhetoric on the drone program!"

    The reason the drone - the model of which the Pentagon refused to reveal - went down is under investigation. Al Shabab claims they shot it down but U.S. officials said that is rather unlikely because the surveillance drones fly so high.

    U.S. military drones are believed to be stationed at the U.S. base in Djibouti and operate from an airport in the Seychelles, and smaller drones are launched from U.S. warships at sea.

    Al Shabab is trying to remain in Somali territory after its members were expelled from Mogadishu, and it has initiated combat in several isolated regions of the East African country.

    U.S. President Barack Obama said last week that the use of unmanned drones in the fight against Al Qaeda is necessary, and he proposed certain restrictions on lethal attacks using them but not on nonlethal reconnaissance flights.

    The U.S. African Command has intensified its use of drones to monitor the presence of Muslim extremists in countries like Somalia, in the Horn of Africa region, as well as Yemen, which is on the Arabian Peninsula.

    The U.S. Defense Department recently signed an agreement with Niger to be able to operate drones in that country. EFE

    Source: FOX News

    Wednesday, May 29, 2013

    Kenya police accused of abuse, torture, rape of Somali refugees

    Kenyan police abused and extorted money from Somali refugees after attacks in the capital believed to have been carried out by the Somali militant group al-Shabab, an international human rights group said Wednesday.

    The Human Rights Watch report, covering mid-November to late January, also said that police arbitrarily arrested more than 1,000 asylum seekers.

    Kenya was hit by a string of grenade attacks last year in Nairobi’s Eastleigh area, which is highly populated by Somali immigrants. The Somali militant group al-Shabab had vowed to carry out attacks on Kenya because it sent troops into Somalia in 2011 to fight the rebels.

    A November 18th attack that killed nine people after an improvised explosive device tore through a minibus had also sparked riots and xenophobic attacks against the Somali population in the neighborhood. Police blamed the explosion on al-Shabab.

    The rights group said police used the attacks and a government order to relocate urban refugees to camps as an excuse to carry out the abuses.

    “Refugees told us how hundreds of Kenyan police unleashed 10 weeks of hell on communities close to the heart of Nairobi, torturing, abusing, and stealing from some of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher for Human Rights Watch and author of the report.

    Kenya police spokesman Masoud Mwinyi could not be reached for comment.

    Police abuses against Somali refugees and immigrants in Kenya are not new, Human Rights Watch said.

    In 2009, 2010 and 2012, Human Rights Watch said it reported on Kenyan security force abuses and other serious forms of violence against the population in the predominantly Somali-inhabited North Eastern region, including the Dadaab refugee camps sheltering almost half a million mostly Somali refugees.

    “Abuses documented in this report are extremely similar to abuses documented in previous reports, in terms of abuses on Somali refugees and Somalis it seems to be business as usual,” Simpson said.

    Human Rights Watch called for investigations on the police chief and his two deputies, and criticized the U.N. for not speaking out against the alleged abuse of asylum seekers.

    A history of human rights abuses, impunity and a culture of corruption led to the agitation for police reforms in Kenya. The calls culminated in the 2010 constitution that restructured the police force to make it independent of the state. Before the new constitution was adopted the president had the power to hire and fire police chiefs and as a result policemen were used to crush dissenting voices.

    A report released last week by the government-funded Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission found Kenya’s state security agencies, particularly the police and army, have been the main perpetrators of human rights violations, including massacres, enforced disappearances, torture and sexual violence.

    A bribe-taking culture exists in the force and officers live in deplorable conditions, are poorly paid, under-equipped and understaffed, former police spokesman Eric Kiraithe admitted last year.

    The constitution initiated police reforms which included the formation of a civilian oversight authority to investigate the conduct of the police. It also set the selection of the police chief through a public vetting process by the National Police Service Commission an independent body created to look at pay and promotions in the force. Parliament would then approve the selected candidate.

    Kenya’s police chief or Inspector General David Kimaiyo, sworn-in in December, is supposed to spear-head reforms in the force. However, human rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have criticized the pace of the reforms.

    In December Kenya announced new, more stringent controls aimed primarily at Somali refugees inside its borders following months of explosive device attacks. The government said all refugees and asylum seekers from Somalia must return to the large refugee camp complex known as Dadaab.

    A government statement from the Department of Refugee Affairs said Kenya hosts refugees from nine countries. Hosting so many refugees, the statement said, brings many challenges, including “rampant insecurity” in refugee camps and urban areas.

    A Kenyan court has temporarily blocked the government from enforcing the orders to return urban refugees to the camps, until a petition against the order filed by a human rights group is heard.

    Source: The Associated Press.

    U.K. Suspect Had Ties to Somali Islamists

    Adebolajo Recruited for al-Shabaab During Stay in Kenya, Cleric Says 

    Tributes to Lee Rigby at the site of his killing.

    During a 2010 journey to Kenya, a primary suspect in the killing of a British soldier in London last week associated with people connected with violent Islamist group al-Shabaab and helped recruit for the group, according to people familiar with his visit.

    Michael Adebolajo, the suspect, was himself headed to Somalia when he and seven others were arrested by Kenyan counterterror police on Nov. 22, 2010, said Aggrey Adoli, the police chief in Mombasa, Kenya's principal port city. Mr. Adebolajo and his fellow travelers had made it to Pate Island, 40 miles from the Somali border, and were looking for a boat to ferry them into the country, Mr. Adoli said.

                                  Michael Adebolajo

    Mr. Adebolajo, who is British, was ultimately deported back to the U.K. A Kenyan government spokesman said Sunday that he was turned over to British authorities after his arrest.

    The U.K. Foreign Office said it had "provided consular assistance" to a British national arrested in Kenya in 2010.

    The details of Mr. Adebolajo's sojourn in Kenya, and the possible association with al-Shabaab, have raised questions from politicians and in British media about the response of British intelligence services. Officials familiar with the matter have said that Mr. Adebolajo and the other key suspect, 22-year-old Michael Adebowale, were known to security services prior to the attack.

    According to a Mombasa cleric, Mr. Adebolajo worked closely with Aboud Rogo, a preacher and outspoken al-Shabaab supporter who was shot and killed by Kenyan police in 2012.

    In an appearance on British Broadcasting Corp. television on Sunday, U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May declined to discuss the specifics of the case or media reports that intelligence officers had previously approached one of the suspects potentially to recruit him as an informant. She said that security services gather intelligence in a variety of ways and "they will approach individuals from time to time."

    The U.K. overhauled its counterterror strategy after the 2005 bomb attacks on London public transit, which killed dozens. Late Saturday, Prime Minister David Cameron announced a new task force focused on halting radicalization.

    Malcolm Rifkind, the head of the U.K.'s Intelligence and Security Committee, an independent parliamentary committee that oversees the intelligence agencies, said the panel plans to probe what officials at U.K. intelligence agency MI5 knew, what action they took and any additional steps that should have been taken. The committee, which has the power to access classified material, plans to conduct "the fullest investigation possible," he said.

    Mr. Rifkind said he received a preliminary briefing from the head of MI5 on Friday and that the intelligence agency will submit an initial written report to the committee in the next day or so. The panel plans to submit one report to the prime minister and another public report to Parliament, though Mr. Rifkind declined to say when.

    Intelligence officials have helped prevent at least one terrorist attack in the U.K. each year in recent years, Mr. Rifkind noted. He said the intelligence agency can be proud of that but that "doesn't alter the need to investigate the facts."

    Witnesses said two men attacked 25-year-old Lee Rigby, who was serving with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, not far from a military barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, killing him with knives and a cleaver. Police who responded shot and wounded two men, who were arrested and remain hospitalized.

    People familiar with the matter have identified the two men as Messrs. Adebolajo and Adebowale.

    Since the killing, police have arrested eight other people on suspicion of conspiracy to murder; the most recent arrest came Monday in southeast London. Police have released scant details on the other arrests, though as of Monday four had been released on bail and two released without charge.

    The Mombasa cleric said Mr. Adebolajo had been in Kenya eight months before he was arrested there in 2010. He said Mr. Adebolajo worked closely with the Muslim Youth Center, or MYC, of which Mr. Rogo was the ideological leader. According to reports by the United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia, MYC used to mobilize resources and recruits for al-Shabaab's activities in Kenya and Somalia. Mr. Adebolajo, the cleric said, would frequently go to hear Mr. Rogo preach and became a kind of neighborhood recruiter.

    The cleric's account couldn't be entirely verified. Matt Bryden, director of Sahan Research, a Nairobi-based think tank, who was with the U.N. Monitoring Group at the time of Mr. Adebolajo's trip, also said in an interview Sunday that Mr. Adebolajo had met with associates of Mr. Rogo. Mr. Bryden, however, said Mr. Adebolajo arrived in Kenya the same month he was deported. The cleric describes a more extended stay.

    Mr. Adebolajo "was attending most of the sermons, and he was amongst the people who used to recruit young Kenyans. Rogo was coordinating through him," said the cleric, who met Mr. Adebolajo in Mombasa. "After having recruited people to go to Somalia, [Adebolajo] was ready to go and join those that he knew."

    The cleric said he believed Mr. Adebolajo was already radical by the time he arrived in Mombasa. "But before Mombasa he was concealing his radicalization," the cleric said. "Here he could wear Muslim attire and blend in."

    Mr. Adoli, the Mombasa police chief, said Mr. Adebolajo and the others arrested with him were questioned but not brought to trial since there wasn't evidence of a crime.

    "There was no offense disclosed except that they were going to Somalia, and that is not an offense unless they were armed, but they weren't armed," Mr. Adoli said.

    Mr. Adoli denied allegations made by Mr. Adebolajo's brother-in-law that the suspect had been tortured while in custody in Kenya.

    "Kenyan police do not torture anybody, that is just an allegation without any basis," he said. "You can't just come up with an allegation three years later; he could have reported it then, there is a police station at the airport, he could have lodged a complaint on his way out."

    —Charles Forelle contributed to this article.

    Write to Cassell Bryan-Low at

    Source: Wall Street Journal

    Monday, May 27, 2013


            I.            Preamble
    Following the decision by the 21st Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of IGAD as per paragraph 10 of the communiqué released on the 3rd May in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Executive Secretary, Amb. Eng Mahboub Maalim led a delegation composed of Ambassadors of member states to Mogadishu and Kismayo to conduct a confidence building mission and collect views from various stakeholders on Juba regions state formation.

    Premise of the mission:
    ·         The communiqué of IGAD 21st Extraordinary Summit of Head of States and Governments held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on the 3rd May 2013. The following paragraphs formed the basis of the mission:
    o   Paragraph 4: Noted with appreciation the increased engagement, convergence of ideas and solidarity among IGAD member states in support of Somalia. In this regard, noted with appreciation the meeting between H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of Kenya, and H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia of April 27th 2013 in Mombasa, Kenya and welcomed the joint statement of understanding which elaborates principles of engagement. In this regard, urged for its full implementation.

    o   Paragraph 6: Noted with appreciation and welcomed the Somali Federal government’s document titled National Stabilization Plan and reiterated the need for all processes particularly the ongoing efforts towards setting up Somali regional administration and stabilization efforts, to be anchored on the following principles: -
    ·         Leadership of the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia in the process;
    ·         Respect of the provisional constitution of the Federal Republic of Somalia;
    ·         All inclusive consultative process with the peoples of Somalia;
    ·         supportive role of IGAD based on the priorities of the Somali government; and
    ·         Fighting the Al Shabab as the primary focus of the Somali Federal government; AMISOM; regional and international partners;
    And further requested the Somali federal government to align the document with the aforementioned agreed five principles.

    o   Paragraph 10: Decided to conduct a confidence - building mission to Kismayu led by the IGAD Executive Secretary and composed of representatives of the federal government of Somalia and one senior delegate from each member state of IGAD with the aim of assessing the situation and submitting a report to the IGAD summit to be held on the sidelines of the AU summit in May 2013.

          II.            Methodology
    The Ambassadorial team developed terms of reference based on the five principles in the communiqué and held discussions with the Federal Government and stakeholders in Mogadishu and Kismayo:
    ·   Mogadishu (16th-17th May)
    1.      H.E President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud
    2.      Hon Speaker  Mohamed Sheikh Osman (JAWARI)
    3.      H.E Prime Minister Mr Abdi Farah Shirdon (SAAID)
    4.      Ministers of Interior and National Security as well as Justice and Federal Constitution
    5.      Members of Federal Parliament representing various clans including Hawiye, Daarood, Digil and Mirifle, Dir and the Fifth Clan  
    6.      Clan elders and Civil Society
    7.      AMISOM
    ·   Kisimayo (18th -19th May)
    1.      AMISOM Sector II
    2.      Ahmed Mohamed Islam (Madobe),
    3.      Barre Hiirale, Abdiballe Defale, Omar Burale, Iftin Hassan
    4.      The technical committee  and Signatories to secession of hostilities
    5.      Clan elders, Civil society and Business Community
    6.      Delegation of the Federal Government in Kismayo
    7.      Commander of Somali National Army and Ras Kiamboni Brigade (RKB)

        III.            Positions on the Issues
    a)      The Federal Government
    ·         The Federal Government and its Leadership including H.E. President, H.E. Speaker, H.E. Prime Minister, H.E. Ministers of Interior/National Security and Justice emphasized the government position as follows:
                                                                                          i.      The process in Kismayo is not done in the spirit of the constitution
                                                                                        ii.      The lead role of the Federal Government is missing
                                                                                      iii.      The inclusiveness of the process is questionable
                                                                                       iv.      The process does not help the joint efforts to fight Alshabab
                                                                                         v.      Demanded IGAD to support the Somali Federal Government’s efforts to uphold the constitution
                                                                                       vi.      Underlined the need for dialogue and reconciliation as way out of the impasse

    ·         Some members of the Federal Parliament from the region supported the process, while other MPs opposed the process in Kismayo.

    b)      The Kismayo Actors
    ·         Ahmed Madobe and his team, as well as the signatories, technical committee  argued that the process:
                                                                                          i.       Is in line with the Federal Provisional Constitution,
                                                                                        ii.      Is inclusive
                                                                                      iii.      Has significantly contributed in the fight against Alshabab and liberated many areas in Juba regions
                                                                                       iv.      Appreciate continued IGAD role
                                                                                         v.      Underlined the need for dialogue and reconciliation as way out of the impasse
    ·         Other Stakeholders in Kismayo believe that:
                                                                                          i.      The process is not done in the spirit of the constitution
                                                                                        ii.      The lead role of the Federal Government is missing
                                                                                      iii.      The inclusiveness of the process is questionable
                                                                                       iv.      The process does not help the joint efforts to fight Alshabab
                                                                                         v.      Demanded IGAD to support the Somali Federal Government’s efforts to uphold the constitution
                                                                                       vi.      Underlined the need for dialogue and reconciliation as way out of the impasse

    c)      AMISOM
    ·         The Ambassadorial team was briefed by AMISOM Force Commander on the political and security situation in the country. With regard to Juba regions, AMISOM view is to implement the five principles of the communiqué. The force commander informed the team that in the initial stages there was a technical communication problem between the force headquarters and AMISOM sector II that has since been resolved. 
    ·         The force commander informed the team that the challenge has been the fact that each troop contributing country (TCC) signed separate MOU with the African Union (AU).
    ·         AMISOM sector II Commander briefed the delegation on the security situation and the role the sector has been playing in ensuring peace and security in the region.
    ·         He stated that Alshabab’s strength and capability has been significantly diminished. He however added that probing attacks, ambushes and IEDs are still continuing.
    ·         He blamed the resurgence of insecurity particularly in Kismayo as a result of the political tension. 

    d)     Somalia National Army/ Ras Kiamboni Brigade
    The delegation held a session with Somalia National Army(SNA) and Ras Kiamboni Brigade (RKB) commanders who informed the delegation on their continued efforts against fighting Alshabab and expressed their logistical and financial problems.
       IV.            Findings and recommendations
    Based on the summit communiqué of 3rd May 2013 and particularly on the five principles enumerated there in, the Ambassadorial team conducted its fact finding and confidence building mission, made observations and came up with the following recommendations:

    1.      Whether or not the process  is being done in the spirit of the provisional constitution of the Federal Government of Somalia:
    o   The Federal Government and various stakeholders in Kismayo are in agreement on the need to follow the provisional constitution in the establishment of the regional administration;
    o   However the Ambassadorial team observed that there is a difference in interpretation of the provisional constitution between the Federal Government and various stakeholders in Kismayo.
    o   The Federal Government and Parliament of Somalia to expedite enactment of the necessary laws that govern the establishment of regional administration.

    2.      Whether or not it is all inclusive:
    o   The mission found the inclusivity of the Kismayo process contestable, especially among the minority.

    o   Recognizing the fragility of the situation in Kismayo, the Federal Government should timely convene and lead reconciliation conference with support of IGAD while consulting key Stakeholders in Kismayo. Meanwhile the mission calls upon the stakeholders in Kismayo to go to Mogadishu and dialogue with the Federal Government regarding the interim regional administration.

    3.      Whether or not the process is led by the Federal Government of Somalia:
    o   The Ambassadorial team has observed that the process was not a government led process; 
    o   In principle all have agreed that the government needs to take leadership of the process;
    o   The Federal government and the stakeholders in Kismayo however have expressed strong reasons and explanations as to why the process was not led by the government.
    o   The IGAD Ambassadorial team proposes that the Federal Government of Somalia takes the lead role in the formation of regional administrations including Juba regions.

    4.      Whether or not IGAD is playing a supportive role:
    o   The Ambassadorial team has observed that the role of IGAD is accepted by all stakeholders;
    o   Regarding the Juba regions  process, IGAD facilitation has been absent since February ;
    o   However during this period the council and the summit have remained engaged in the stabilization of Somalia.
    o   Noting that the Federal Government and other actors have expressed willingness in IGAD role to facilitate the process, IGAD and the Federal Government should be more proactive. In this regard, IGAD to expedite support to the Federal Government in its priorities including the formation of regional Administration;
    o   Calling on IGAD secretariat to provide technical support to the federal government as and when requested;
    o   IGAD member countries provide the Federal Government with experience and technical assistance on federalism, devolution and decentralization as and when requested by the Federal Government.

    5.      Whether or not the process is accomplished in such a way that it helps the joint effort to combat Alshabab:
    o   The team has observed that this process indeed was a tool resulting in liberation of many areas of Juba regions;
    o   However the last stage of the Juba regions process that ended with an election has resulted in tension;
    o   The team observed that the high political tension in Kisimayo is not only threatening force cohesion and increasing insecurity but also impairing the operational tempo of the fight against Alshabab.
    o   Calls upon the Federal Government of Somalia to provide immediate security and logistical support to the regions;
    o   Calls upon the Federal government of Somalia to immediately integrate the various militia forces into a unified national command of Somali National Army and logistically provide force sustainability;
    o   The AMISOM Sector II should be provided with a political support unit to help in dealing with the political aspect of the disputes in Kismayo and to facilitate cooperation and coordination between the sector and the Federal Government.