Mohamud Mohamed, 20, who lives in Baidoa, was pleased to collect his school certificate this month from his hometown in southern Somalia, instead of travelling to the capital Mogadishu.
“I received a text informing me to collect my certificate in Baidoa,” Mohamed told Radio Ergo. “This is a major step by the ministry of education because they have saved us the trouble of travelling to Mogadishu. Travelling by road to Mogadishu is not easy, it’s also very expensive, so this is a really positive step by the government and we are happy.”
From August, Somalia’s education ministry devolved the issuance of certificates to the regions, following a series of meetings between the national and state ministries of education held in Baidoa, Dhusamareb and Mogadishu.
Mohamud studied at Al-Marifa school in Baidoa and sat for both the national exams and exams set by the Somali Private Education Networks. He needed the certificate to confirm his place in the faculty of management at the University of Southern Somalia.
Flying round trip from Baidoa to Mogadishu would have cost him $200, or around $60 by road.
However, according to the ministry of education in South West state, only 160 students have collected their certificates so far, out of the 2,363 students from 53 schools who sat their exams in the state.
Last year, by contrast, Mohamed Shuke Shire – who was among the top performing students in his region – had to travel from Galkayo to Mogadishu to collect his certificate, spending around $400. His family had to help him raise the money for the journey.
“When I arrived in the city, it took me about four weeks, almost a whole month!” Mohamed told Radio Ergo.
“I used to go to the ministry and the private education umbrella. You will always be told that the officials are not around. But if I had stayed in Galkayo, I would never have got it.”
The director of Hirshabelle education ministry, Abdullahi Ali Abdi, said that since August, 350 students in Hirshabelle had collected their certificates. 1,800 students sat for the national exams in the state this year.
“The ministry has the certificates and the information,” he said, encouraging more to come forward. “The students are only required to fill a form to request the certificates and within three to four days they get their papers.”
Each student is charged $35 by the regional state ministry as a fee to cover printing and transportation of the certificates from Mogadishu. These costs may be reduced later on by making local arrangements for printing.