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|ISSUE 52 January 18, 2003||
Opening Of Sheikh Secondary School Delayed
MOE Blamed For Mishandling The SOS Introduced And Supported Secondary Education Program
Sheikh (SL Times): The opening of Sheikh’s old Secondary School has been delayed indefinitely. The school, which has been rehabilitated, furnished and equipped by SOS Kinderdorf International was scheduled to start with two classes of 25 students each as from Jan 15, 2003. The students were reportedly selected among the top 80 mark scorers in the intermediate school leaving examination held last year by Somaliland’s Ministry of Education.
Only 45 of the 80 candidate students have been chosen on the basis of merit while 5 seats were reserved for the Sheikh Community. However this offer fell too short of the demand of the community for the establishment of their own secondary school.
"As the community of Sheikh we have forfeited our rights to the old secondary school on the understanding that the Ministry of Education will compensate us by establishing a new secondary school or the community," one of Sheikh's elders said.
The Ministry of Education actually failed to address this issue. Instead it continued to offer secondary education at 2 classrooms (Form I and Form II) within Sheikh’s only Intermediate School.
"We sent a delegation of elders to Hargeisa to negotiate a settlement with the MOE but they refused to pay attention to our need," a Sheikh community leader told the Somaliland Times.
On Jan. 15, the day scheduled for enrollment at the SOS Secondary School, the students together with their parents and a delegation from the MOE arrived in Sheikh only to face protests by the community. "Where they want us to take our school children to," shouted one protester.
In a statement to reporters following the protests, the MOE announced that opening of the SOS has been postponed indefinitely.
Community leaders were also angered by reports that some high level government officials have managed to place their children on the finalized list for enrollment. The Director General of the MOE Hussein Elmi has denied the allegation.
Meanwhile on Thursday, Sheikh community leaders visited the SOS school where they met with the school Principal, Mr. Dick Eyelington to reassure him of the community’s support and appreciation of SOS's presence in the area.
SOS is an organization founded by Dr. Hermann Gmeiner in IMST, Austria in 1949. It looks after the welfare, health and education of children. SOS children’s villages have been established in over 150 countries worldwide.
According to an agreement signed with late President Mohamed Ibrahim Egal in 1999, SOS undertook to renovate, furnish and equip the old secondary school in Sheikh and restore it into full operation as an SOS Herman Gmeiner School provided that title to the school and the premises is handed-over to SOS-Kinderdorf International free of any charges, restrictions or encumbrances.
The agreement obliges SOS to establish a locally registered nonprofit trust in Somaliland to be called "The SOS Children Villages Association of Somaliland" which was supposed to have its own distinct legal entity. The agreement also calls for SOS to provide sufficient financial support for the on-going maintenance and running costs of the SOS projects in Somaliland through its international sponsorship program.
Somaliland's government has been obliged under the terms of the agreement to exempt SOS Kinderdorf and SOS Somaliland together with affiliated projects from the payment of value added tax, customs duties, surcharges and income tax.
The agreement also authorizes SOS to enjoy full authority in the employment of its personnel and final authority on matters of admission to children villages, while the government reserves the right to veto anything it considers as incompatible with, or harmful to the standards, regulations or laws prevailing in the Republic of Somaliland.