Interview: Moustapha Mohamed Mahamoud
What effects from the education reform programme have been observed thus far?
MOUSTAPHA MOHAMED MAHAMOUD: Since 2000 the education system has undergone profound changes to establish a more solid foundation. This was a long-term task that included creating a teaching system adapted to the local culture and history. In this process, we preserved the French language and collaborated closely with French experts to set up our own system. In 2016 we began to see real progress of these efforts, with the enrolment rate increasing to 80%. While this was a significant achievement, the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MNEVT) aims to increase enrolment to 100% in the coming years.
Furthermore, the education system now has textbooks adapted to the unique reality and history of the country, as well as instructors who have been trained to teach according to this curriculum. So far, three graduating classes have followed the programme and obtained their International Baccalaureate. The exam subjects are now designed by the MNEVT rather than the French Ministry of Education. On top of these achievements, the University of Djibouti has opened, allowing young students to continue their higher education without having to travel abroad, which was previously unavoidable.
How can the education system further promote social and professional development?
MAHAMOUD: Djibouti is a small country with very few natural resources, so human capital development is fundamental to its growth. It is therefore necessary to prepare and educate the future generations, which is why 24% of the national budget is allocated to the MNEVT in 2018. In the context of general education, a key national priority is educating the masses, which entails ensuring that all children across the country have access to schooling. To keep up with developed economies, we are also promoting the use of digital equipment. Primary schools, for example, have been using tablets as educational tools since 2014. It is important that our youth have access to technological progress.
Lastly, a school of excellence has been set up to guide Djibouti’s young talent. The purpose of this is to train the leaders of tomorrow through a condensed programme, whereby students engage in two courses in one year, all of which are taught in English, Arabic and French. A host of modern equipment has been acquired for the centre to help ensure the best possible education.
What role does vocational training play in fostering economic development?
MAHAMOUD: It is important for Djibouti to have a vocational training system in place to have competitive human resources at a regional and international level. To this end, the MNEVT has prioritised the promotion of inclusive and quality education. This can only be achieved through a continuous and thoughtful improvement of vocational training methods. The aim is to provide the country with human resources that are competent and ready for the challenges of today and tomorrow.
We are using the Tunisian and Moroccan models of vocational training as examples to help our system become much more modern and realistic.
Moreover, the link between vocational training and the private sector is undeniable. Since the port, building and tourism sectors require the most skilled labour, important work has been done to educate all of its members. This should result in the establishment of a council that will bring together all stakeholders in order to better communicate needs and target projects to put forward. Many citizens want to pursue professional and technical training, and it is the MNEVT’s duty to provide the necessary resources and facilities to support these ambitions.