The Maarif Schools, which launched their operations in the East African country of Somalia on 21 November 2016, offers scholarships to children, who cannot learn due to the insufficiency of the nation’s education infrastructure, and helps them complete their education in the best way possible. In Mogadishu, where education is provided almost exclusively by private institutions, many parents –except politicians, business people and bureaucrats– can afford to send their children to school. The city is surrounded by makeshift camps, where Somalians moved after fleeing draught and violent conflict, and those born in those households have almost no hope for the future.
Considered the country’s most successful institution, the Somalia Maarif Schools operate 3 campuses in Mogadishu and Hargeisa, providing education to 1200 students.
The 9-year-old Yakup Abdinur Abshir, who tries to survive in one of Mogadishu’s tin houses with his 12 siblings, is one of bright and hardworking students, who were able to receive a scholarship from the Foundation. Yakup, who began to receive a scholarship in the first grade and has recently qualified to start the third grade, dreams of becoming a teacher and passing on the care and compassion, which he received, to the next generation. Describing his joy over being admitted into the school, Yakup told us about received 92 out of 100 points overall by learning all the classes by heart, as he forgot to ask for textbooks because he was shy. Recalling that he was surprised by the atmosphere at the school and felt happy, Yakup added that he loves his teachers. Yakup, who also trains to become a hafez, or memorizer of Qur’an at the camp, where he stays with his peers, is among the school’s most successful and hardworking students.
Ihsan Cerrah, the Turkish Maarif Foundation’s country representative in Somalia, said that the schools had great symbolic significance, as they were the first schools to be taken over from the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ). Reporting that the schools provide education from the kindergarten to the high school levels, he added that the Foundation was carrying out a feasability study in two locations, alongside Mogadishu and Hargeisa, to start teaching there. Cerrah, who noted that the Maarif Schools were considered the country’s most successful institution, said that the country curriculum was developed two years ago and the education sector was dominated by private institutions. Stressing that their students’ admission rate into overseas institutions remained one of the best criteria for measuring their performance, he noted that 98 percent of the Maarif students had been accepted by Turkish universities.
Cerrah, who recalled that language was one of the most important factors for the development of bilateral relations, made the following remarks: “It would not be wrong to say that there is more interest in the Turkish language in Somalia than any other country. There is serious demand for Turkish speakers in politics, trade and diplomacy. We need to contribute to that. The further development of bilateral relations shall be rooted in language as a key factor.”
Reporting that they were working hard to ensure that Turkish is offered as an elective course in all schools, Cerrah noted that foreign schools were reluctant to open campuses within city limits due to security concerns.
The Somalia Maarif Schools achieved 100% success in national examinations, which the country began to hold recently for high school graduates.