Somali university students deterred by high fees rather than civil war | Laila Ali and Hamza Mohamed

From Global development | The Guardian Mon Jan 21 2013, 07:01:01

Student numbers fell during the conflict, but with Mogadishu now largely peaceful, campuses are opening their doors again

For university students in Somalia, the threat of violence has been the biggest concern in recent years. But as peace returns to the capital, Mogadishu, high tuition fees rather than civil war are more of a barrier for students wishing to attend classes.

Despite the civil war that has lasted more than two decades, education remains key for many Somalis. "To be without knowledge is to be without light" is a popular Somali proverb. Rather than closing campuses, some universities chose to relocate at the height of the conflict - but many are now back in Mogadishu.

"Somalis are very resilient people. Despite the wars, famine and displacement, students and staff still turned up to classes. When our classes were destroyed, we taught under the trees. We refused to close our doors because you never know when war will end," says Professor Mohamed Abdiweli Ali, chancellor at the University of Somalia, who is also a presidential candidate and a former lecturer at King's College London.

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