Today marks the tenth anniversary of my teaching; I started teaching at SYL Primary and Secondary School a decade ago today. It was the first time in my life I entered a class, introduced myself as a teacher, and wrote and explained a lesson on the blackboard.
A week earlier, a friend of mine invited me to enter an exam for a new branch that was about to be opened in the Howlwadaag district in Mogadishu. That coincided with when I completed a one-year English language diploma from Banadir Institute, so I was considered as an English and business studies teacher. The examination, which took place in the SYL branch in the Labo-dhagax neighborhood, had no paperwork. Teachers and administrators were gathered in a class. I was given 10 minutes to prepare a lesson from a business studies book and then was invited to present it at the teachers’ class. The teachers were deliberately distractive. Some started to chat. Others started to be busy with their phones. My explanation was good, but I was poor in class management as I could not manage the class and ask teachers (now students) to be quiet, act properly and listen to me.
During the break, I was luckily told about my weakness. I was about to present an English subject again. When I started the explanation, which was English to English (no one asked me to do so, but I decided to explain the lesson in English), I did better in terms of class management. I was then selected to be an English and business studies teacher at the new Howlwadaag branch of the SYL Primary and Secondary School.
The month before, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) with the leadership of its relatively impressive prime minister (now president) Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo had taken over the control of the Howlwadaag junction from al-Shabaab. People were starting to return to the district. When going to the school in the morning, I used to see the damage that the war had had on the district. Very few people were coming to the Bakaro market.
The school had also few students. We started with one student class, and students enrolling and returning to Howlwadaag increased gradually. This somehow helped me because the teaching profession was completely new to me, and managing classes full of students would be challenging to me. I experienced back pain in the first two weeks, and my hand used to tire quickly when I start writing lessons on the blackboards.
At the time I started teaching, I was studying the third year of my undergraduate degree at Mogadishu University. It was a lot of work for me to teach the class in the first half of the day and study at the university in the afternoon.
On the other hand, teaching allowed me to earn some crucial money. I received the first $90 salary from the school by the end of December. When I took the money, I called an uncle in Mogadishu who used to cover my bus fare expenses. I told him that from now on, I will not ask him for any money as I started teaching and receiving a salary. I thanked him for his support.
I taught English and business studies to the primary and secondary classes of the SYL Primary and Secondary School for 25 months (2 years and one month). I enjoyed every moment I spent with the school and its students, teachers, and administration. I still visit the school, and my connection with the former and current teachers is intact.
Few months after finishing my undergraduate degree from Mogadishu University, and while teaching the school, I was asked to teach ‘Introduction to Political Science’ and ‘Introduction to Sociology’ courses at Imam University. This was my first experience teaching at a university. The Imam University teaching was challenging, but also interesting and fun. I was full of energy. When I prepared the presentation, I used to rehearse it in my home. I used to prepare myself and the room for the class, and to deliver it as if the students are listening, explaining in English to English. This helped me a lot. While in class, I was doing well, explaining the concepts in English and then summarizing in Somali.
In late January 2014, while in Hargeisa for a training of a study I was part of, Mogadishu University decided to assign a subject to teach at the faculty I graduated from. My classmate, Aweis Ahmed, was also asked to teach at the university. I returned from Hargeisa on Friday, 24 January 2014. In the evening, the Faculty of Economics and Management Science dean called my phone and asked me to go to the HR office as I will teach at the university. This was a rare opportunity. Teaching at Mogadishu University was a privilege.
February 02, 2014, was the date I started teaching at the university. During my university study, I also did a diploma in law. Therefore, I was asked to teach a law course. I taught the ‘Principles of Law’ course to a third-year Public Administration class. I was still young, and class management was again one of the challenges I faced. It was a rare occurrence (or it was the first time, I am not sure) that undergraduate students who completed the university a semester earlier teach Mogadishu University. I wrote a reflection blog after that first semester.
After one year of teaching the Mogadishu University, I took a break from teaching and immersed myself in the field of research as I joined the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies as a full-time researcher. While at HIPS, although I was not teaching classes, I was training researchers and enumerators for data collection and analysis.
I also started studying for a Master of Public Administration at the University of Roehampton in September 2015. In February 2018, when I submitted my MPA thesis, I restarted teaching Mogadishu University again, one course in every semester. I also train researchers and bloggers at Somali Public Agenda.
Teaching is a passion for me. I teach to inspire students and influence them in doing well and becoming better people. It also gives me the space to share my personal experience with students. Jay Shetty said in his recent ‘Think Like A Monk’ book: “Your passion is for you, Your purpose is for others. Your passion becomes a purpose when you use it to serve others.”
If you attended a course I taught or a lecture I presented, tell me in the comment box below. Thank you!