IEC in Somaliland
Hargeisa, capital city of the self-declared independent state of Somaliland (north-west Somalia) has much to be proud of as it is home to more than a million people, the national center for commerce and a place of great tribal diversity. However, Somaliland is facing enormous challenges to realize its dreams of economic development and progress that can only be resolved by visionary leadership, political will and economic redistribution. Among the most important issues hampering Somaliland’s development is the inability of its senior secondary and tertiary educational institutions to effectively utilize English as its main medium of instruction. Though the Somaliland population comprises of professionals, diaspora returnees and local university graduates, there remains a great need to gather all these human resources and make use of their individual talents to improve the educational system for the next generation. The Islamic Online University (IOU) has successfully run an Intensive English Course (IEC) in The Gambia over the past year and expanded into Guinea Bissau and Senegal. Within the last two months, IOU has now introduced the IEC in Somaliland in collaboration with a number of schools and universities in different parts of Somaliland, such as the University Of Hargeisa, New Generation University, Edna Aden University, Nooradin Secondary School and 26 June Secondary School. The IEC program in Somaliland has been welcomed by both the public and private sectors with more than 1,500 students registered within the first two months.
The IEC has developed a digital approach towards the teaching of English as a foreign language. Contrary to the majority of the schools and universities in Somaliland, both public and private, the IEC has advanced equipment including projectors and laptops which it utilizes on a daily basis in the classes. Video lectures are presented by native speakers of English language from all over the world. Instead of the traditional method of passive learning where the teacher does most of the talking, the IEC is student focused. IEC promotes active learning in the class room where students are the center of attention and receive regular practice in speaking with each other. This approach helps to build a variety of communicative and social skills.
The IEC utilizes teaching assistants who are native or near native speakers of English to ensure that students learn proper English pronunciation. The IEC has prepared this language course from an Islamic perspective which is free from objectionable western cultural norms. For example, stories from the life of prophet(PBUH) and his companions are used rather than stories of western heroes. Thus, IEC labels its course as “HALAL ENGLISH”.
To produce excellent students, we need highly motivated, hard-working and qualified teachers, consequently the IEC has provided 1-2 months of training for its teaching assistants before they officially start their classes. Furthermore, teaching assistants are given continual weekly training sessions througout the year of the course. The training covers some of the most important aspects of teaching like classroom management, lesson planning, how to teach listening, reading, speaking and writing as well as pronunciation and grammar. This ensures that our teachers convey to our students correct concepts and knowledge of the English language.
The Intensive English Course consists of four main levels; pre-beginners, beginners, intermediate and advanced. Students at the IEC are also given written and audio summaries of their class contents on a weekly basis to facilitate review of their material as well as weekly tests and level exams to establish a system of continual assessment.
In the coming year of 2015, the IEC will begin the process of introducing its program to schools and universities across Somaliland as well as Somalia in cooperation with the ministries of education and the owners of higher educational institutions – Inshallah.