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|It’s Our Curriculum|
Though Mr. Winston Tubman was appointed more than 2 years ago as the UN Secretary-General’s representative and head of the UN Political Office for Somalia, we will be surprised if the number of Somalilanders who could recognize his name or know about his job exceeded a dozen individuals. It is not only that Somalilanders don't know him, he too does not know Somalilanders or their country for he has never set foot here. That is why it is amazing that someone so removed from our reality would have a say on what our children study.
Somalilanders who are used to unreasonable demands and claims by overpaid and underachieving UN bureaucrats, were shocked by the extent of mean-spiritedness and hostility shown by Mr. Tubman toward them, as evidenced by his letter of Oct 21, 2003 which called for the removal from the Somaliland curriculum of:
- All topics related to the historical background of how Somaliland regained its independence on May 1991
- All the maps showing international boundaries between Somaliland and its neighboring countries as well as such purely physical features as hills and mountains.
One can also detect in Mr. Tubman's letter an implied threat that unless all the unwanted materials are omitted, funds earmarked for printing the school textbooks would be blocked. To justifiy his move, Mr. Tubman claimed that the syllabus of social studies textbook for grade 5 students “advocates for Somaliland’s secessionist policy”, as if he were responsible for the preservation of the unity of Somalia, a state that ceased to exist more than 13 years ago. But even if we assume that Mr. Tubman acted out of genuine concern for Somalia’s unity, it is not a good excuse for depriving Somaliland's children from essential learning tools such as textbooks.
The school kids that Mr. Tubman ostensibly wants to protect from “secessionist infection” could hardly grasp what he means by the term "secession". For these children who were born during the post-liberation and independence era, the once unified Somali republic only existed in history books or in the minds of irrational people like Winston Tubman.
UN bureaucrats could go on deceiving themselves with the fiction that the state of Somalia still exists and Somaliland doesn’t. But they shouldn’t penalize Somalilanders for refusing to accept such fiction. In a country where every new year, thousands of school age children are forced to remain without basic education, mainly due to severe shortages in the number of classrooms and teachers available, it will be an unforgivable crime to deny textbooks to those already enrolled. Perhaps a better policy would be for Mr. Kofi Annan to disband the useless and costly UNPOS. The UN will doubtless save a lot of money if it got rid of Mr Tubman and the UNPOs. It could then spend that money on education in places where it is desperately needed. The salary of Mr Tubman alone could pay for the schooling of hundreds of kids.