Elm School placing unrecognized Somaliland on the world map

Education News Somaliland

At the heart of Somaliland capital Hargeisa, Kenyan teachers are hitting the headlines, thanks to their performance at the privately owned Elm Schools.

Over 70 Kenyan teachers have taken a leap of faith to the internationally unrecognized Somaliland, and their efforts are bringing international acclaim to the Elm Schools.

The total population of students from both primary and secondary schools is 2400, with 53 classes in the primary wing and 17 classes in secondary.

Teaching the Kenyan Competence Based Curriculum which was recently introduced in Kenya, the school is managing to reduce the literacy gap that is pronounced in Somaliland where poverty levels remain high. There are students who are also doing the British system of education.

“Our curriculum is Kenyan and that is why we have the Kenyan staff. We got into CBC just like the Kenyan system, but we do an integrated system,” said Silvia Nzilani, the school’s headteacher.

And the school is already gaining international recognition.

The Kenyan curriculum complements Islamic education offered by Somaliland teachers.

The school, fully owned by a Kenyan-Somali, is not only the best in Somaliland but also holds the title of the most outstanding international school in Africa by Accreditation Service for International Schools (ASIC).

ASIC is a UK-based independent quality assurance body specialising in the institutional accreditation of education providers.

Two years ago, the school received recognition for emerging as one of the best schools offering the British system of education in the world. The school received the medal for the Most Outstanding School during the International Education Awards conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The award issued by the Accreditation Service for International Schools, Colleges and Universities{ASIC} came after the school produced among the best results in the British Education curriculum.

 “It was  a massive recognition to the school and indeed Somaliland,” Yusuf Lutta, the Principal of the school said.

“It’s a performance that came due to hard work by the teachers and the students,” he adds.

Lutta said his pride is derived from the fact that most of the teachers are Kenyan.

“When anybody hears that we are working in Somaliland, they assume it is a hardship area with security issues, which is far from the situation on the ground here in Hargeisa.

Unlike Mogadishu, Hargeisa is an emerging peaceful business hub with authorities doing their best to ensure the kind of lawlessness associated with Somalia is not replicated in Somaliland.

Somaliland a former British colony broke away from Somalia a former Italian colony and declared its independence in 1991 following the outbreak of a civil war that led to the collapse of Siad Barres’s government. It enjoys relative peace and stability, has its own functioning government, judiciary, police force, military and has a national currency.

However, even despite the nationals voting in a referendum to separate from Somalia, it is yet to gain international recognition despite continuous pushing.

That has not deterred Kenyans from seeking a source of livelihood in the horn of Africa country.

Over 10,000 Kenyans are living and working in Somaliland as teachers, hotel managers and chefs, mechanics, bankers, medical practioners and artisans in industries.

Large companies like Dahabshiil Bank and Money transfer company, Coca Cola, DHL, Damal Hotel are among the institutions that have employed Kenyans.

However, it is the teachers at Elm schools that are now stealing the show thanks to their exemplary performance.

“Being recognized globally as the best International School in Africa is no mean achievement and we are proud as a school to have been awarded such honours by ASIC. This award means a lot to the school and to Somaliland as a whole,” Benson Samia, the school’s Human Resource manager stated.

He added: “We have experienced Kenyan teachers teaching IGCSE curriculum in our secondary school and we are happy as a school for the commitment and dedication they have to the school and their students. They have really uplifted the academic standards of the school and Somaliland as a whole and for that, we are grateful,” added Mr. Samia.

Samia says the school opted for Kenyan teachers because they were also using the 8.4.4  and CBC curriculum in KG and Primary school, which is Kenyan. “For the secondary, we are using the IGCSE. Kenyan teachers are a product of the 8.4.4 curriculum and we thought they were the best to implement it and they have not disappointed. They have lived to our expectations.”

And the school went for the best Kenyan teachers, attracting them with good perks from reputable private Kenyans schools.

The Principal Yussuf Lutta and Moses Kibande quit their teaching jobs at St Patrick’s Kiserian while Brian Lupao sacrificed his job at Light Academy in Nairobi to join other Kenyans in teaching in Hargeisa.

“It is something I do not regret,” says Yussuf Lutta.

“It’s a new experience and we as Kenyans are learning so much about the different cultures of the people of Somaliland. The hospitality is great and the excitement of working with these children, uplifting them to achieve something is life is just phenomenal and fulfilling especially when they exhibit the kind of performance they have,” he adds.

Elm School is considered to be in the same league as Kenyan elite international private institutions in terms of education quality and status.

Established in April 2007, the school has hundreds of students, including eight Kenyan children, some of whom were born in Hargeisa, and whose parents are teachers at the school. They have lived in Somaliland for years. Some of the children learning at Elm Schools are orphans and from poor families, and they study on a full scholarship as a way to giving back to society.

Elm has a seal of approval for quality education, a safe conducive environment for learning as well as qualified teaching personnel. The school is accredited by the British Accreditation Service for International Schools, Colleges and Universities (ASIC), and is cleared to offer international British system of education.

The Competency Based Curriculum offered in Kenya, is being rolled out by Elm School making it the first school outside of Kenya to implement it.

The school has a kindergarten, lower and upper primary and a secondary school. These units are dotted across the fast-growing city of Hargeisa, which, unlike other Somali cities, enjoys peace and stability essential for a conducive learning environment.

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