Adnan Mohamed Ibrahim, 24, comes from a low-income family of 11. His father passed away when he was only four years old. Despite the struggles to put food on the table for her family, Adnan’s mother strived hard to pay the school fees of her child for almost 20 years, but could not eventually single-handedly afford the fees for him to go on to university.

While the prevailing challenges in his hometown of Luuq in the Gedo region, approximately 400 km west of Mogadishu, remained unfavourable to him and other students like him, Adnan showed perseverance and dedication towards his studies, hence successfully completing his primary education in his hometown.

In 2016, he moved to Mogadishu to pursue his secondary school studies doubling his hard work and commitment towards his studies. Consequently, he passed with flying colours emerging among the top five students who had graduated in 2019. He, thereafter, won a scholarship award from the Chinese government given to high-performing students. But his dreams were shattered by the COVID-19 pandemic, which thwarted him from making his dream journey to China to begin his university studies.

Dismayed, Adnan returned to his hometown of Luuq where his mother and his siblings still lived. After idling in the town for one good year, he heard about the Hormuud Foundation Scholarship – Salaam Foundation, and after signing up for it, he emerged among 30 successful scholars to join local varsities to pursue their dream courses.

He is now in his third semester studying agriculture at Zamzam University in Mogadishu.

“I lost all hopes to pursue my studies as all my aspirations fizzled out one by one. I was worried about my future and where I would end up. Imagine returning to your mother’s home after all your hopes of pursuing education faded and the only option remaining was to rejoin your struggling family and put more burden on them. My mother did all at her disposal to raise me as a fatherless child despite the hurdles life threw at her way,” said Adnan while recounting the hard life he went through during his childhood.

“I grew up in an agricultural area where most of the residents’ livelihood depends on farming, and my dream is to give back to my people and transform their lives for the better by introducing modern farming skills to them after graduating from university,” he noted.

Hormuud Salaam Foundation launched its scholarship scheme in 2018 with a view to sponsoring and helping aspiring but needy students who could not afford to pay for their tertiary education. Over 25 per cent of the beneficiaries are orphan children who either lost a mother or a father. 16% are needy students who live with relatives who cannot afford to pay for their university studies. 23% of the scholars come from households where struggling mothers are the sole breadwinners, while 9 per cent come from families who depend on relatives for their survival.

“Mothers who raised their orphaned children under tough conditions and invested in their children’s education future through thick and thin have high hopes that one day their children would transform their fortunes, hence the society’s responsibility to realise the aspirations of such mothers. Hormuud – Salaam Foundation recognises such a responsibility, hence our scholarship programme to reward such group of people,” said Hormuud Salaam Foundation Director.

“We are committed to rescuing many brilliant minds in the society and reviving their hopes by granting them access to the education they desperately need, we aim to help contribute to the production of an educated skilful young generation that can help both the people and the country,” he added.

Worth-mentioning is the scholars’ opportunity to pursue their favoured fields at the university regardless of the expenses and the duration of the studies.

Sadaq Ahmed Abdulwahid is on his fifth semester at the medical and surgery faculty of Mogadishu University. The first born of five siblings, he is one of the beneficiaries of the Hormuud scholarship programme. His father died while he was in the middle of submitting his application to the programme. 

“I completed my high school during a difficult period in my life as my father was on his death bed at the hospital, I was so worried about how I could support my mother in earning for the family and I had no hope of pursuing my studies,” he narrated.

According to Sadaq, one of his high school teachers encouraged him to apply for the Hormuud scholarship. While his mother still continues to solely provide for the family, he has high hopes that he would soon take over these responsibilities from her and relieve her of the burdens she was carrying on her shoulders for many years. 

Somalia’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Higher Education praised the procedures applied to select winners of the scholarship, noting that the system was structured in a way to encourage and recognise the hard efforts paid by the bright but needy minds in the society.

Presiding over the opening of the third year qualification exams, Director of the Ministry of Higher Education said: “It is motivating to see Somali education experts prepare and mark the qualification exams in a fair manner in a bid to select the best qualified scholars. It is a worth emulating scheme which relieves burden from low-income parents and which contributes to the production of professional academicians who can have a positive role in the development of the country,” he added.

This year, up to 36,143 students, comprising 22,308 boys and 13,835 girls, sat for the national high school exam, according to the Director General of the Ministry of Education, Mohamed Aabbi Hassan. This year’s exam enrolment saw an increase of 3000 students compared to last year.

Tuition fees for arts faculties at the various universities in Somalia range between US $40-50, while the tuition fee for medicine goes for up to US 120; an expense that are unaffordable to many students from poor families.

The number of student beneficiaries from Hormuud’s scholarship programme is nearly 100 currently, with a plan to expand the scheme to cover the education needs of many deserving university students.

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