By Abdi Mohamud
No nation can develop, progress, or attain any significant achievements without educating its people. There is absolutely no debate about the importance of education, as education gives people the ability to think, act, and accomplish things in profound ways. Excellent skills, far sight, patience, maturity, wisdom, etc., are the some of the attributes of the educated. So, when the educated recognize their position in society and the responsibilities they are expected to shoulder, wonders are experienced. Things that seem to be impossible, and outside the realm of the humans, are attained. People become more daring as their pride, motivation, enthusiasm, and courage get bigger and deeper.
The tiny islands of Singapore and Taiwan can serve here as a prime example of how education coupled with great managerial skills propel nations and put them far ahead of their peers. Although these nations may not be endowed with natural resources in abundance, they have been proven to be the envy of the world. Singapore has developed highly efficient banking and service industries among others. In addition, Singapore has a proficient manufacturing base. Singapore purchases raw materials from around the world, then it processes, refines, and sells to any willing buyer.
In the case of Taiwan, the country has developed and increased its agricultural output since it broke away from China in many folds. Taiwan also has adopted attractive business policies that have appealed to many investors. Despite the good economic policies, these governments also have invested in education heavily and that is what has brought about the real change in those countries.
Education is the key in every sphere of human progress, and the educated are the force driving changes happening in any country. So where is Somalia in terms of education, progress, and social well-being? It is fair to say we are at the bottom. Why and who is to blame? Who is responsible for social and economic regression and stagnation?
People may have different views on these issues, however, there is no doubt that the educated Somalis would shoulder the lion’s share of the blame. The educated are unaware of, or may be unwilling to assume, their responsibilities. Many people believe that Somalia has the highest brain drain per capita in the world. Educated Somalis leave their country in droves looking for greener pastures. They are scattered around the globe. They have taken residence and started working in the Middle East, Europe, North America, and as far as China and Japan.
One may argue that Somalia does not have many opportunities to offer and these folks’ priorities are to look after themselves and their families. That argument may have some merit, but it is not good enough to relieve our educated of their duty and responsibilities towards their country. There is always a role for you to play and it is essential to be mindful of that role. Apathy is a disease of the mind, needs to be combatted so as to not harden one to the plight of one’s own people.
It is also important to note that majority of Somalis have gotten educated on tax payers’ money. The fact that they have received free education, makes them indebted to the Somali people, and it is incumbent on them to pay back their debt. This can be done in many ways either individually or collectively. When people band together and pool their resources, they can accomplish great things. Therefore, it is necessary for the educated Somalis to show patriotism and take the lead.
No social, economic, or political gains will be made unless the educated Somalis are in the forefront in running the nation’s affairs. Educated Somalis need to rethink their strategy of writing occasional articles and lamenting the unsatisfactory performances of those at the helm. It seems the educated get fixated on the few at the top, forgetting everything else. It is crucial to hold to account of those in charge of running the nation’s affairs at every level, but that itself is not everything – it is just part of the equation. To make sense of this, pay little attention to the talk and writings of our learned folks. It is fair to argue that their efforts lack vital actions and ideas that would bring about real change in the political, economic, and social landscape of our motherland.
The educated need to come up with better plans and consider aiming at the grassroots level. They should visit and take residence in their villages, towns, and cities to fully understand the situation on the ground. Just stay there for two weeks, three weeks, a month or two to assess the myriad needs there. I implore those who are educated and capable to please act and do something. Here are examples of the things one can do that may be within one’s means and ability. Replace the dip bulbs in the village or town school, clinic, etc., with energy efficient fluorescent lamps to better illuminate those spaces. Purchase a few chairs, tables, and affordable medical equipment for the local clinic or hospital. While such things can be done at a personal level, there is also a higher possibility of accomplishing more significant things collectively. There is great strength in numbers – 10, 20 or more people have the ability to purchase, for instance, X-ray and ultrasound machines, medications, and beds for the local hospital. Those people can also repair and refurbish existing schools, hospital or possibly build new ones.
The educated can also utilize their expertise and train local staff in schools, hospitals, local government, justice system, and NGOs operating in the local communities. We need to rebuild, develop, and strengthen the infrastructure, institutions, and resources from the ground up again. This progressive movement should strive to involve Somalia’s youth at its core, so as to pass on the torch to and inculcate the values of stewardship and responsibility in the next generation of our nation’s leaders.
The retirees or soon-to-be retired groups should consider helping these causes mentioned above and many others with similar benefits. In many cases, these groups have time, expertise, and other resources necessary for carrying out the work functions discussed above. We should also remind ourselves that it is important to enlist support from the youth in the diaspora. It is likely that this group will play a significant role in these efforts, as they may bring a new, different perspective. They will also appreciate reconnecting with their heritage and culture because, no doubt, they will find a meaning and value in this endeavor. Help always gives people hope, motivation, and the ability to do things better. It allows people to see light at the end of the tunnel, as they realize that they are not alone. Help also brings joy, especially when it comes from your own kind.
Let us strive for establishing strong, self-sustaining communities, and enable our people to come together for the common good. Such efforts will empower our people, particularly the youth.
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