About Us

Green River employee called to rebuild Somalia’s educational system

Regina Elena elementary school
Scego's elementary school, before and after the war. It is now used as a shelter for displaced Somali nationals.

Twenty-one years of civil war and a historic famine left his home unrecognizable.

Green River Workforce Education Advisor Ali Scego left his home country of Somalia for the U.S. in 1982 and did not return until representatives from his country asked him to attend the National Education Conference for Somalia.

"It's hard to describe the feeling," Scego said, "going places you call home - and they are unfamiliar to you. There is no trace of what it used to be. Buildings are destroyed and decayed."

Now that there is a new government ready to rebuild the country, education reform is top priority. After over two decades of civil war, unrest, and a disastrous famine, very little remains of the Somali educational system.

Director of Ed
Scego (second from the right) poses with the Director of
Education and other authorities at the conference.

Most municipal buildings, including the schools, have been turned into camps for the hundreds of thousands of refugees displaced by fighting and destruction. There has been no strong central government to coordinate the education of young children.

The fledgling government organized the National Education Conference for Somalia and invited national and international leaders, diaspora (Somali nationals living in other countries), and educational authorities to jump start the planning.

The Somali Ministry of Human Development and Public Services, supported by UNESCO and UNICEF, held the conference in Mogadishu from June 18 - 20. The conference gathered 150 participants to take part in the public forum on education.

The National Education Conference for Somalia revolved around five critical themes: education governance, access to education, quality of education, higher education, and youth education. Scego's background in Workforce Education enabled him to contribute to the youth education section.

Family property
Scego’s family used to own this property, which was badly damaged in the war.

"We have a group of youths with no formal education to speak of," explained Scego. "They are our target. We are building a platform for them to find their interest, get an education, and enter into the workforce." Many young Somalis spent their time in the militia and have never been exposed to reading or writing. Scego and his peers worked to develop a Technical Vocational Educational Policy that provides students the basic education they lack, and then funnel them into technical and vocational education and careers.

"I'm hoping the government will be able to follow up on some of our recommended actions," Scego said. "But in the meantime, some old school mates and I are trying to figure out how to help."

Parliament building
The Somali Parliament building, before and after the war.

He and his old friends are in the beginning stages of starting their own small-scale reform by adopting a school. They hope to start by finding a location and providing books and uniforms. Right now, their efforts are still in the early planning stages - mostly facebook conversations and emails.

As his divided country slowly heals, Scego does what he can to give young Somalis an opportunity for education. "Ultimately, I would like to see a Somali student coming to Green River, sponsored by the college." Scego is in talks already with a few departments in an effort to make this dream a reality.