Hargeisa, Feb 14, 2004 (SL Times) – The Somaliland authorities have asked
UNESCO PEER to return the manuscripts of over 30 textbooks and teachers'
guides intended for grade 5-8 students in Somaliland.
In a letter written on Monday, Feb 9, 2004, to the Nairobi-based UNESCO
PEER, Somaliland’s Deputy Minister of Education, Ismail Mohamed Madar,
demanded that the documents be returned to the ministry.
Mr. Madar’s letter said the decision to reclaim the manuscripts was taken
following the publication by Haatuf newspaper on Feb 6 the text of a secret
letter written by UNPOS to UNESCO “in violation of Somaliland’s independence
and our children’s rights for education”.
The letter of the deputy minister also cited the long delay by UNESCO in
printing the manuscripts in the form of textbooks and teachers' guides.
The story of the UNPOS secret letter was actually first reported by our
other sister newspaper Al-Hatif al-Arabi, a weekly Arabic publication, on
Feb 5, 2004, but the news about the scandal broke in earnest only after it
was picked by the daily Somali Haatuf the next day [Feb 6, 2004].
The UNPOS chief, Mr. Winston Tubman, wrote to UNESCO on Oct 21, 2003 [Siyad
Barre’s coup anniversary date] instructing it not to print a social studies
textbook for grade 5 students in Somaliland because “it advocates for
Somaliland’s secessionist policy”.
In the above letter, Mr. Tubman made it clear to UNESCO that unless all
information material, illustrations and maps relating to Somaliland’s
independence, vegetations, hills, mountains, airports and roads were
deleted, he would strongly advise against printing the grade 5 textbook.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Education further disclosed, last Tuesday,
that his department was recently asked by UNESCO to endorse an Eritrean
English language textbook instead of the one formulated by the Somaliland
Commenting on this action, the spokesman said, “they had unilaterally taken
this decision, and the only reason they mentioned was that the textbook was
not up to the standard academically”. The spokesman went on to say that
UNESCO made fake excuses for dragging its feet on the English textbook. He
said they felt uncomfortable with the English textbook for the same reason
they felt unhappy with the grade 5 social studies textbook.