Amoud Foundation provided logistical support which brought a visiting delegation from University of Massachusettts Amherst (UMass) to Amoud University. Amoud University hosted a resultant two day conference on behalf of SomaliREN members. SomaliREN stands for Somali Research and Education Network, a group of universities from the Somali Regions in the horn of Africa that have come together for purposes of Academic Networking and Partnership. It comprises a number of universities and cuts across borders drawing its membership from countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya.

Currently in its list of universities, the members are namely:-

Amoud University, located in Borama, Awdal; Benadir University, located in Mogadishu, Benadir; East Africa University, located in Bosaso, Bari; City University, located in Mogadishu, Benadir; Galkayo University, located in Galkayo, Mudig; Nugaal University, located in Laasanod; Brao University located in Togdheer; Mogadishu University, located in Mogadishu; Puntland State University, located in Garowe and The Heritage Institutte for Professional Studies, located in Mogadishu. For more information about SomaliREN please visit the website http://somaliren.org

However, in attendance on this day were the following universities, in alphabetical order:- Amoud University, Benadir University, Burco University, East Africa University, Gollis University, University of Hargeisa, Jigjiga University, Mogadishu University, Nugaal University, Puntland State University, Simad University.
Each university sent one or two representatives and the following persons were there from each the universities that converged at Amoud University respectively for the two-day conference.

UMass Amherst, Amoud Foundation and SomaliREN Two Day Workshop
 

Name of Organization

Name and Title of Official Representive

1. Amoud University Prof. Suleiman Ahmed Guleid
            -President, Amoud University
2. Mogadishu University 1. Shariff Osman
- Advisor to the President, Mogadishu University
2. Adam Hussein
- Director, Quality Assurance and Planning Department, Mogadishu University
3. Nugaal University 1. Abdirisak Mohamed Adam
- President, Nugaal University
2. Ahmed Hassan Ali
- Focal Point, Nugaal University
4. East Africa University Dr. Adam Shekhdon Ali
- President, East Africa University
5. Gollis University Dr. Saeed Ahmed Hassan
- President, Gollis University
6. Benadir University Mohamed Hassan Mukhtar
- Dean, Faculty of Education, Benadir University
7. University of Burao Khadra M. Jama
- Head of External Relations and Fundraising, University of Burao
8. Simad University Dr. AbdiAziz Sheikh Mohamood
- Senior Consultant & Professor of Immunology in Faculty of Medicine Health Sciences, University of Simad
9. University of Massachusetts 1. Dr. Mohamed Good
- Research Associate College of Education, Vice President for International Relations and Faculty Developement at College of Education Umass Amherst
2. Joseph B. Berger
- Senior Associate Dean Director, Center for International Education “CIE” College of Education, UMass Amherst
3. Hanni S.Thoma
- Research Assistant College of Education, UMass Amherst
10. University of Hargeisa Mohamed Ali Hersi
- Vice President for Administration and Development, University of Hargeisa
11. Jigjiga University Mohamud Mohamed Abdillahi
- Director of the Institute of Somali Language and Literature Studies and member of the university’s executive committee, Jigjiga University
12. Jigjiga University 1. Dr. Abdalla Ali Duh
- Director of Research Center, Puntland State University  
2. Abdideeq Abdirahman Warsame (Deeq)
- Administration & Human Resource Manager, Puntland State University
13. Amoud Foundation Mohamoud F. Egal
- President, Amoud Foundation

The two-day workshop held at Rays Hotel in  Borama, was very successful.
On Day One, which was Wednesday, October 12th, 2016, representatives from various universities arrived in time to a reception at Rays hotel followed by a meeting at the Main Event Hall in Rays Hotel, Borama. The workshop started at 8.00am where the meeting was opened by a word of welcome for all participants offered by the host, Prof. Suleiman Hamed Guleid, President of Amoud University. Prof. Suleiman thanked the members for taking time off their busy schedules to come and converge in Borama, to discuss the agenda. Upon completing his speech, he then welcomed Mohamed F. Egal, President of Amoud Foundation, an international NGO based in USA to the podium.

Amoud Foundation is the main driving force in terms of logistics, planning and organization of this meeting. The foundation initiated this process about four years ago first by inviting Prof. Suleiman Ahmed Guleid to USA on a tour for possible networking and connections with prospective development partners and academic insititutions. While in USA during that tour is when the teams established contact with University of Massachusetts through Dr. Mohamed Good. They have worked hand in hand with University of Massachusetts having first invited Dr. Mohamed Good a Research Associate at the College of Education University of Massachusetts Amherst three years ago to come and visit Amoud University, laying the foundation for initial engagements amongst the three institutions. This process is what has now culminated into the invitation of all universities under the umbrella called SomaliREN. Upon completing delivery of his speech, Mohamed Egal then invited Dr. Joseph Berger who is a Senior Associate Dean and Director, Center for International Education (CIE) at the College of Education in the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Dr. Joseph B. Berger Senior Associate Dean and Director, Center for International Education (CIE) at the College of Education in the University of Massachusetts Amherst delievering an opening speech at the tripartriate forum for discussions on areas of priority for partnerships with SomaliaREN members, a two day workshop held at Rays Hotel [Wednesday October 12th, 2016]

Dr. Joseph B. Berger, gave a brief word describing the warm relations and ties that started a while back and have since been nurtured and built, finally evolving into the current workshop. Dr. Joseph was accompanied by Dr. Mohamed Good(PhD) who is also the Vice President for International Relations and Faculty Developement at College of Education University of Massachusetts Amherst and Hannis S. Thoma a Research Assistant at the College of Education in the University of Massachusetts. At the end of the speech he thanked all the participants who had found time to come and share with each other in the round table discussions.

These universities were then subdivided into three groups as follows:
Group One: Benadir University, Puntland State University and Burco University
Group Two: Mogadishu University, Gollis University, Simad and East Africa University
Group Three: Amoud University, Hargeisa University, Jigjiga University and Nugaal University

(Standing, centre) Mr. Mohamoud F. Egal, President of Amoud Foundation delivering a welcoming speech to the guests and participants of the two day workshop at Rays Hotel Borama, on Wednesday October 12th, 2016.

The groups were then tasked with the responsibility of discussing their common challenges and opportunities after which they were required to come up with a list of three priority areas where assistance may be needed most immediately. Each group had a spokesperson who then presented the results of their discussions and shared with all the other team members on their behalf.

At 12.00pm the discussions took a break and then resumed thereafter at 2.00pm after a lunch hosted by Amoud University in Rays Hotel. In the afternoon the groups were given a short lecture by Dr. Joseph Berger about the Models of Leadership, followed shortly by guidelines being established for Indentification of Priority Areas that need immediate attention so as to form possible agreed outcomes at the end of the meeting.

Several issues were brought up amongst them the following:-

A Baseline survey or Training Needs Assessment (TNA) was proposed in order to establish where the SomaliREN member universities stand today in terms of staff qualifications and experience. SomaliREN members ackonwledged that they all need to have at least 80% total staff population possessing a Masters degree and above, within the next eight years.

It was further proposed that there is need to:-

  • Prepare an action plan
  • Implement the action plan

It was proposed that staff with lower credentials but currently employed at the university be given incentives to go for pursuit of higher academic qualifications. Coupled with incentives requirements may in future need to be put in place for all staff to hold Masters degrees within the next eight years. There was identified a need to provide incentives for current Masters degree holders to pursue their PhD degrees within the next eight years, this going hand in hand with hiring competitively and outsourcing for areas of deficiency over the next five years while increasing capacity of those currently existing. It was agreed that these actions can not be mutually exclusive. Furthermore, staff who are assisted to attain haigher degrees should be bound in contracts so that upon completion of their current higher degrees they should work for the sponsoring institution for a period of not less than five years after graduation to at least give back to the institution some returns on such investments. The institutions were also adviseed to provide incentives and promotions so as to motivate this category of staff.

There was a proposal to try and implement an annual plan with smaller targets for example increase of 5% in staff with masters degrees and above every year. Herein in this plan is where members of the Diaspora who went abroad at their own cost and of their own volition but have made it back with good academic qualifications, training, experience and willingness to work would be hired to fill in the deficient areas where there need for expertise.

A group photo of the officials from UMass Amherst, SomaliREN member universities and Amoud Foundation first joint workshop held at Rays Hotel Borama for two days, Wednesday October 12th, 2016 and Thursday October 13th, 2016

Amongst all these plans, the universtisties agreed that there are several assumptions and ideal situations for such progress to occur, identified as among them:-

  • That there is existing sustainable peace and stability in the countries in question.
  • That develoment partners come in to fill the financial and physical resource gaps which exist in a timely manner.
  • Each and every university has a Human Resource Department which is responsible for implementation of these policies.

Short term Goals

Hire already qualified personnel to fill gaps where necessary both expratriate and local.

Long Term Goals

Develop strategies to implement with a view to training existing staff and building their capacities
Establish a Directorate for Development and promotion of Staff.