Somali teacher defies odds to promote literacy at grassroots3 min read
Rufai Mohamed Hussein’s day starts at dawn every day and his goal is to ensure every child in Somalia attains literacy in a country whose education system has experienced conflict-linked paralysis.
Orphaned at the height of the Somalia civil war, Hussein is now married with four children. He defied the path taken by his peers, who either fled the country for safer havens across the border or undertook precarious trips across the Red Sea to the Gulf in search of greener pasture.
“I was born into a life dictated by civil strife. At a tender age, I was exposed to bloody scenes. I did not grow up in a life enjoyed by many children born in peaceful countries,” he told Xinhua during a recent interview. “I am happy my country is now slowly recovering from conflicts that have denied its citizens a dignified life.”
Hussein stressed that he found the courage to remain in his motherland and offer whatever he could for his community instead of looking for comfort in a foreign land as a refugee. “If everyone flees our country to other countries in Europe or neighboring African countries for refuge what will become of Somalia? Somali people are doing marvelous things as refugees in the countries they fled to, which tells us that we are a resilient community,” Hussein said.
Currently, a holder of a bachelor’s degree in education from SIMAD University, one of the universities rated best in Africa according to Webometrics Ranking of the World Universities, Hussein started as an untrained teacher at a local private school.
Teacher Rufai Mohamed Hussein works at Imam Malik Primary and Secondary in Adado town, Galmudug state of Somalia, Dec. 30, 2022. (Photo by Adbi/Xinhua)
Aged 23 and thanks to a scholarship from Iftin Education and Development, an educational charity in partnership with SIMAD University Adado (a regional campus designed by SIMAD), Hussein completed a four-year education program and is now employed as a teacher at a local school.
“My sacrifice to serve my community without expecting any reward paid off after I got an opportunity to pursue my dream career at SIMAD University through a scholarship offered by a local charity organization,” Hussein said.
During his four-year course in teaching, Hussein learned how to develop low-cost and locally available resources, integrate ICT into teaching and access mentorship and support systems, which has become useful in the teaching profession. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in education from SIMAD University in July 2019 and was employed as a teacher at Imam Malik Primary and Secondary, Adado town, Galmudug state of Somalia. He is now the deputy principal at the school.
Mohamud Mohamed Jama, the program officer at Iftin Education and Development, said the program to address the shortage of tutors in Adado town, which started in 2007, has so far managed to train more than 200 teachers in the Galmudug region. The charity which mobilizes funds locally and in the diaspora aims to ensure Somali children do not miss out on quality education due to a lack of trained teachers.
“Currently the organization is sponsoring about 3,000 students, 70 percent of them are men and 30 percent are female to ensure they pursue education at SIMAD University. Most of them are doing sciences and mathematics courses,” said Jama.