A real education is essentially one that gives a child an understanding of himself, his world, his culture, his community… That is what makes a child hungry to learn-the promise of being part of something, of mastering his environment.
One of the greatest obstacles that stand in the way of Somaliland’s education system is the utilisation of foreign languages for teaching and learning. Substantial evidences in varied reputable researches show that 72% out-of-school children are found in linguistically diverse countries that enforce a non-indigenous language for schooling. This is because learners who understand the language that they are instructed in are more likely to engage meaningfully with the content, ask questions what they do not comprehend and enjoy the challenge of new things.
On the other hand, akin to Somaliland’s education system where instruction in the classroom is carried out in languages pupils do not speak can be referred to as submersion- holding a child under a water forcibly. submersion educational practices are linked with a great possibility of pushing children out of schools, as learners fail to find meaning in what they are hearing and intellectually disengage.
I strongly believe that the adoption of Somali language as the primary instructional language in classroom both in public and private schools will provide the pupils with the opportunities to gain long-term benefits ranging from higher self-esteem to greater confidence and to higher aspirations for schooling and life. It will also reduce rates of repetition, failure and dropouts. This is because when Somali language is utilised for instruction in the classroom, the children are most likely to be able to express themselves confidently, contribute to classroom discussions and develop their intellects as conversations are carried out in their native language. Hence, the children will obtain more satisfaction from the education system, thus reducing dropouts, learners will keep up with what is going on or at least feel they can ask questions where they do not understand, therefore, decreasing rates of failure and repetition. However, when teaching children in foreign language (I.e., Arabic or English) would force learners to sit silently or repeat mechanically through memorisation process, leading to frustration and ultimately repetition, failure and dropout.
My proposition on this issue is that the utilisation of foreign language in schools makes children objects of their world rather than subjects. What this means is that we all have human experiences and participation in our world, thus we all have beliefs and values within us that we gained from our interaction with the world. Hence, the primary role of educators is, therefore, to offer children instruments to enable them to critically comprehend their beliefs as well as the value of their experiences so that they can express them through writing and reading. In this scenario, the educational experience comes from inside out. To adequately express their experiences and articulate their knowledge, children require an educational environment that uses the language they speak whilst submersion educational system denies children the opportunity to articulate their world.
Competency and fluency in foreign languages are of great importance in succeeding in this day and age, however, my argument here is that the coins of using them as the primary instructional languages in classroom outweighs the pros. Hence, my recommendation for the new government is to take this issue seriously and to commence commissioning studies to examine the impact of the utilisation of foreign languages on children. Can this be a contributory factor to the mass immigration of youth from Somaliland to Western countries?