‘Education in Turkey important opportunity for Somali youth’

The Somali education minister said Thursday that Turkey’s offer to educate 400 Somali students is an important opportunity for the youth of his famine and conflict-afflicted country.

The Directorate of Religious Affairs and the Turkish Religious Affairs Foundation (TDV) brought to Ankara a group of 250 Somali students Thursday and is expected to bring another 150 over the weekend for Islamic education through Quran courses and at imam-hatip high schools.

One hundred of these students are female and will be enrolled in Quran courses for religious education.

“In Somalia, most of the youth do not have the opportunity to reach the education level they want,” said Somali Education Minister Ahmet Aidid Ibrahim, describing the impact of a decades-long civil war and debilitating drought on education. “Therefore, it is great to have this wonderful offer from Turkey,” he told Today’s Zaman.

“My ministry is seeking educational aid from all over the world,” Ibrahim said.

After these students receive religious training, they will return to Somalia to officiate religious services.

But not all of the Somali students are traveling to Turkey for religious education. Because the program is being sponsored by the TDV and the Directorate of Religious Affairs, most students will receive Islamic instruction, Ibrahim explained. “But there are some students who will receive nursing and other vocational training,” he said.

The students from Somalia will receive instruction in the Turkish language for the next six months before starting their education in İstanbul, Samsun, Kastamonu or Konya.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ and Directorate of Religious Affairs President Mehmet Görmez welcomed the crowd of Somali students at Ankara’s Esenboğa Airport Thursday night.

The Turkish ambassador in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, Cemalettin Kani Torun, indicated in comments to the Anatolia news agency that Turkish public institutions and NGOs extended much assistance to Somalia after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit last year.

Students who were brought to Turkey for education will build the future of Somalia in the coming years, Torun said.

Signs of improvement

The UN announced Friday that conditions in Somalia have improved, but its Food and Agricultural Organization warned that continued assistance is needed to stop the region from slipping back into a dire situation.

The UN moved the Somali crisis up to the fourth level of a five-point scale based on the death rate, formally reducing it from a state of “famine” to one of “humanitarian emergency.”

But the humanitarian crisis in Somalia is far from over.

According to UNICEF’s “Humanitarian Action for Children 2012” report, the crisis in Somalia and in other countries in the Horn of Africa account for nearly one-third of the total $1.8 billion of aid needed in 2012.

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