Somaliland: Abaarso Format Can be a Model for Somali Education Leadership, Excellence


A conference held at Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY during 8-9 June 2019 covered a variety of issues related to Somali/Somaliland education leadership.

The conference was the first annual conference dedicated to Somali educational and economic development. This was a unique opportunity for academics and practitioners in education to share ideas and experiences. The main focus was on the realities of on-the-ground development. The discussion was focused on potential solutions to longstanding development challenges. Many recent graduates from the Abaarso School in Somaliland – very highly motivated energetic group were in attendance.

Among the speakers at the conference were;

  • Edna Adan, Founder of Edna University Hospital
  • Mohamed Gouled, International Finance Corporation’s Vice President of Risk and Finance
  • Mohamed Ibrahim, Somalia’s former Minister of Posts and Telecommunication
  • Professor Ahmed Samatar, Dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship at Macalester College
  • Anne Dix, Director of USAID’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad
  • Bashir Goth, Somaliland Representative to the United States
  • Jonathan Starr, Founder of Abaarso School, Co-Founder of Barwaaqo University

The conference covered areas of leadership, education, and development in Somalia and Somaliland in the form of important areas speeches, workshop, and interactive session.

The founder of Abaarso school, Jonathan Starr, welcomed the delegates and informed the attendees of the importance of education and leadership. Due to the interest showed and a high number of attendees, Mr Starr indicated that this conference will become a yearly event. He also joked about the possibility of one day inviting the top Somali and Somaliland leader to attend this event and debate their differences with the intention of finding a long lasting solution.

Speaking to Hiraan online, Mr Starr hinted that while it is difficult to replicate the success of Abaarso, other formats can be implemented in Somalia.

Ms Edna Adan, founder of Edna University Hospital gave a very comprehensive and emotional speech which covered the history of her involvement in the Somali and Somaliland health sector. Her coverage of the Somali and Somaliland women’s’ health, especially in the area of FGM has created a lot of interest and left a profound impact on the conference attendees.

The Abaarso students in the USA got an opportunity to meet and exchange ideas during the event. They have also showcased their skills and commitments.


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