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Somali graduates of Turkish scholarship program give back to their country

Students a school in Somalia on 7 December 2021 [UNICEF Somalia Office/Anadolu Agency]
Students at a school in Somalia on 7 December 2021 [UNICEF Somalia Office/Anadolu Agency]

Since Turkiye and Somalia established their special relationship in 2011, thousands of Somalis have benefited from Turkiye's scholarship program, realising their dream of obtaining a degree, Anadolu News Agency reports.

More than 10 years later, large numbers of Somali students enrol in the program every year, with Somalia becoming one of the top countries in Africa for sending students to Turkiye for higher education.

A large number of them return to their country to serve their people. They include Somalia's Defence Minister, Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur, who was educated in Turkiye after becoming a diplomat and served as Justice Minister before assuming his current position.

But not all Somali students want to go to Turkiye to get a university education.

Anisa Abduqadir Ali, 19, told Anadolu Agency that for the last two years, she has made several attempts to travel to Turkiye to finish her high school education.

READ: Turkey extends troop mandate in Gulf of Aden, Somalia, Arabian Sea

She said she dropped out of high school in Somalia's Lower Shabelle region due to insecurity and her father's low income.

As her aunt resides in the Turkish capital, Ankara, she has been dreaming of going to Turkiye to finish high school and then get admitted to a university to study medicine.

 'Somalia greatest beneficiary'

Mohamed Mohamud, deputy chief of the Somali Turkey Alumni Association, told Anadolu Agency in an interview in the capital, Mogadishu, that according to the number of scholarships awarded to Somalis since 2011, Somalia is the greatest beneficiary of Turkish scholarships in Africa.

Mohamed also studied in Turkiye, graduating from Firat University in Elazig.

READ: Somali court: Money confiscated from UAE plane in 2018 will not be returned

After returning to his country, Mohamed became the Deputy Rector of one of Somalia's best universities, SIMAD University.

"I can estimate that almost 5,000 plus active Somali students are in Turkiye right now. More than 9,000 Somali students went to Turkiye, either through Turkish scholarship, full or partial, or self-sponsored," Mohamed said.

He noted that the majority of Somali students finish their studies, but there are number of Somali students who drop out.

 High standards

He said that Turkiye is partially a European country, with a high standard of living.

Those who returned to Somalia are playing different roles in the country. They work in the education field such as secondary schools, universities or colleges, or public institutions, especially the immigration agency and the airport.

Some of them have established their own businesses franchised from international companies based in Turkey.

Speaking about the Turkish scholarship program, Mohamed said it played a crucial role for the development of Somalia.

"It created hope for many Somali youths to continue their education overseas; it became part of the peace making process in Somalia because if everyone is well educated, then we will have a better and peaceful society," he said.

Mohamed Isse Abdullahi was one of Somalia's first students who applied for the scholarship in Turkiye.

READ: Turkish language gaining popularity in Somalia

He studied theology, economics, management and organisational leadership in Uludag University.

He told Anadolu Agency there are some challenges Somali students face in Turkiye, among them is the language barrier.

He said Turkish universities teach everything in Turkish language and that is one of the biggest challenges Somali students face in terms of education.

Abdulkarim Abdulle has also studied in Turkiye. He says that the high standards of the education system in Turkiye, along with other political and economic factors, make Turkiye the first choice.

"Somalia has been one of the top beneficiaries of the scholarship since (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan`s first visit to Mogadishu in 2011," Abdulle told Anadolu Agency.

"Students go to Turkey for both undergraduate and graduate studies because of the privileges and the priority given to Somali students," he said.

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AfricaEurope & RussiaNewsSomaliaTurkey
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