Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Major Port and Logistics Group Funds Education Programmes With an Eye to the Future

Country May be Unrecognised Internationally but that Won't Stop Progress
Shipping News Feature

SOMALILAND – Just over a year ago we wrote how logistics group DP World was developing a new port in Berbera in the face of criticism from Somali authorities who, like much of the international community, refuse to recognise the country as an independent state. Now seemingly a policy of 'hearts and minds' is under way to educate local youth, sponsored by the Dubai outfit.

The company has formed a partnership with Abaarso School in Somaliland, to ‘dynamically enhance’ educational opportunities for youths. The growth of influence of the company will doubtless be noticed in neighbouring Djibouti where, less than 300 kilometres to the north west, the authorities last year evicted the company from the freight facilities at Doraleh which they legally owned and operated.

It may well be that DP World has half an eye on its potential need for well-educated staff in the coming years, as well as teaching the children of current workers if the new port proves as successful as it obviously hopes. The location and the needs of the economy are factors doubtless proving a major attraction. Now, with the name Abaarso associated with excellence, thanks to the Abaarso School of Science and Technology, the only American accredited school in Somaliland, there can be mutual benefits for patrons and students alike.

DP World Berbera has just finalised two scholarship programmes, the first of which is a scholarship programme for high performing Somaliland students to attend the Abaarso School of Science and Technology. Through this scholarship, ten students will have their entire six years at Abaarso funded by DP World Berbera.

These students were selected from amongst the highest scores on Abaarso's 7th grade enrolment exams. By providing this scholarship, DP World Berbera helps assure that Abaarso's world-class opportunities are open to all Somaliland students regardless of financial capability.

The second scholarship is for DP World Berbera to provide eight annual scholarships for promising young women from the Sahil Region to join Barwaaqo University's School of Education. Barwaaqo University, founded by Abaarso in 2017, is the first all-female boarding university in Somaliland. Modelled on Abaarso's education, Barwaaqo focuses on developing strong fundamentals and character, delivered in a 24-hour boarding environment.

The aim of this scholarship is for the young women who graduate to return to the Sahil Region and significantly improve the quality of education. To this end, DP World Berbera plans to partner with Abaarso and the city of Berbera to support the creation of a K-12 school (teaching all 12 years from kindergrten upward) in Berbera, the DP World Berbera Kaabe School. Suhail Albanna, CEO and Managing Director of DP World MEA Region said:

"The presence of a high quality American accredited K-12 school will have a positive impact on the education opportunities available to the people of Somaliland. In the long term, we also hope the young women from Barwaaqo University will help to establish an international standard education system in Berbera, which will enable expat management who will establish their business in the Economic Zone to bring their family and children with them.

”The Barwaaqo University will serve the entire Sahil region and will support women's empowerment in the area. Education is one of the key pillars in our sustainability strategy and we are looking to improve people's lives to bring positive change to communities in which DP World employees live and work."

The statistics of education in the region are telling. Abaarso School currently serves students in grades 7-12, and the demand to enter its Grade 7 is over 35 times the available capacity. It has just opened its 1st Kaabe School in Hargeisa, which will ultimately enrol approximately 700 students, employing a student-centric Montessori-inspired learning environment.

The DP Berbera Kaabe School will follow this same model and aims to achieve American accreditation. The development of the school will give DP World's Berbera employees access to high quality education for their children rather than having to send them to boarding schools or live in the capital, Hargeisa.

Photo: L to R: Jonathan Starr, Founder of Abaarso, Supachai Wattanaveerachai, CEO of DP World Berbera, Suhail Albanna and Abdillahi Omar Abdillahi, a student at Abaarso.