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Somaliland Prepares Students for Education Abroad

Students at Abaarso School of Science and Technology relax in a courtyard after school, in Hargeisa, Somaliland, April 3, 2016.
Students at Abaarso School of Science and Technology relax in a courtyard after school, in Hargeisa, Somaliland, April 3, 2016.
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Mustapha Mohamed Ibrahim is a recent graduate of the Abaarso School of Science and Technology, near Hargeisa, Somaliland.

Like many other Abaarso graduates, Ibrahim was recently accepted to a university in the United States -- with a full scholarship.

Ibrahim expressed excitement.

"For a kid whose parents never graduated from middle school, it is a very, very big deal for getting accepted into universities in the United States."

The Abaarso School of Science and Technology

The Abaarso School of Science and Technology is a school that teaches students from Grade 7 to Grade 12.

Entrance to the school is competitive. Usually, between 500 and 600 students compete for 50 spots in the school. This year, at least 1,000 students are expected to take the test.

The school's curriculum centers on math, science, and technology. Students develop their English language skills, too.

The school's education helps students win scholarships at schools around the world.

The head of the school, James Linville, says that universities and secondary programs around the world have accepted 80 students from the school.

Most of the 80 students received full scholarships, he says.

"It's incredibly competitive to get scholarships as international students to these schools, and not only that, but it's been a very long time since Somali-educated and Somali-raised students were able to get these scholarships… When our first students got these scholarships three years ago, they were the first in over a generation to be given scholarships to study in the U.S."

Abaarso graduates have success in schools around the world

When studying in other countries, Abaarso graduates are able to keep up with their classmates.

Linville says that Abaarso students have a grade point average of 3.2 out of four in college and preparatory school, on average. Abaarso students have also received high scores on the SAT, an American college entrance exam, says Linville.

High SAT scores are important, he says. "Especially considering that at the time they took the SAT, they've been taking classes in English for three years. So, imagine sending an American kid to another country, asking them to take the national exam in three years and then scoring in the 80th or 90th percentile."

Political problems in Somaliland

A civil war, financial problems, and political problems have limited the educational possibilities for Somalilanders.

Jonathan Starr, an American businessman, used $500,000 dollars of his own money to start the Abaarso school in 2009.

Since 2009, there have been three graduating classes of about 35 students each.

The hope is that the students will bring their knowledge home and improve their country.

I'm John Russell.

Jill Craig reported on this story for John Russell adapted her report for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

graduate – n. a person who has earned a degree or diploma from a school, college, or university

scholarship – n. an amount of money that is given by a school, an organization, etc., to a student to help pay for the student's education

curriculumn. the courses that are taught by a school, college, etc.