Before the arrival of the colonial powers, the education in Somalia was more traditional than formal. It was given out through informal systems of communal interaction and it was mainly about Islamic studies and traditional crafts. With the arrival of colonial powers late 19th century, formal systems of learning began to evolve slowly and steadily. Although these systems were limited in scope and were essentially intended for the purposes of colonization, they marked the beginning of learning systems that were absolutely different from the traditional education systems.

Following the independence in 1960, the education system in Somalia developed considerably and the access to formal education increased in all the major towns across the country. Both the civilian and the military governments that ruled Somalia in the period between 1960 and 1990 boosted up the schooling system by building hundreds of schools, training tens of thousands of teachers and establishing Somali National University. The adoption of the Latin script for the writing of the Somali language, and the country-wide implementation of literacy programs not only enhanced the existing learning system but also encouraged lots of citizens to learn.

The formal education system in Somalia was in steady growth until the Somalia’s State collapsed in 1991. With the state collapse, all existing systems of learning in the country were vandalized during the civil strife and the subsequent factional wars. Since then Somalia remained without any formal education programs until 1995 when Somali teachers started to reorganize and revitalize the schooling system in the absence of effective state in the country. The space left by the absence of public administration capable of delivering important social services and the destruction of educational infrastructure led to the formation of non-governmental educational bodies which SAFE is a member.

Organizational Background

Schools Association for Formal Education (SAFE) is a not-for-profit and non-governmental institution seeking unrestricted access to basic education for all school-aged children in its operational area. Aware of the deficiency in primary education in Somalia, SAFE endeavors to create opportunities of basic education for children in varied ways. SAFE was established in 1998 by teachers who realized the need for forming a network for formal education schools to bring together the expertise and resources of educational professionals to skillfully and efficiently operate toward achieving the Association’s pivotal principle of free access to education.

The Schools Association for Formal Education also came into being for the purpose of reviving and revitalizing the post–civil war formal education in Somalia. The mission of the organization being the creation of a wholesome community that is literate, progressive and public–minded, SAFE puts emphasis on eliminating gender inequity and disparity in education opportunities, which SAFE sees as a biased practice to be abolished. As academic excellence is the core of its vision, SAFE is in a constant endeavor to excel in school education.