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Imagining Somaliland

An investigation into the relationship between nation-building, citizenship and education in a contested space.

Children walking by water

A one-year project (2018) funded by the London International Development Centre

This project investigates how nationalism and citizenship are 'imagined' in the Somaliland context, exploring both formal educational institutions and linked media content using Anderson's Imagined Communities framework (1983).

The project seeks to evaluate the potential for education to engage with these topics from a peacebuilding perspective. 

Understanding the Somali educational context

In 2017, Somaliland published a new textbook on civic education for secondary school students. Although this textbook was released as part of a Somali-wide curriculum consolidation process, Somaliland retained the right in this process to develop its own education policy; their framework refers to Somaliland as a nation state, without integrating its education within any broader state system (the Republic of Somaliland, 2017).

One of the stated goals of the new curriculum is to promote a 'national consciousness and unity in the minds of children at an early age and enhancement of a spirit of patriotism for Somaliland as well as a desire for its sustained integration, stability and prosperity' (Ibid). Another goal is to assist the Somaliland people to develop 'skills and attitudes which foster the growth of social justice, responsibility and the value and virtues of peace'.

There is a need to understand the degree to which these goals of nationalism and peacebuilding are compatible within a wider Somali educational context. 

Aims of the project

The project aims to investigate the degree to which peaceful citizenship values underpin the new curriculum, and the potential for that content to be accepted, based on the extent to which dominant public discourses, elite perspectives, media and media producers transmit compatible values of peacebuilding and citizenship

Research team
  • Dr Alexandra Lewis (Principal Investigator), UCL Institute of Education
  • Dr Idil Osman (Co-Investigator), SOAS, University of London

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