Somali schools will only teach Islamic ideals, and reject western-styled education should al-Shabab Islamists take over the country. “Some UN agencies like Unesco are supplying Somali schools with textbooks to try to teach our children un-Islamic subjects. I call upon all Somali parents not to send their youngsters to schools with curriculum supported by the UN agencies,” said Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, al-Shabab spokesperson, at a graduation ceremony for Koranic students.
Many schools in Somalia still operate under western-styled education – and most use UN donated textbooks. However it is not clear whether other al-Shabab leaders share his view.
Al-Shabab, founded in 2004, developed in the wake of the loss of the Islamic Courts at the hands of the transitional government backed by the United Nations and the African Union. An estimated 3,000 the ICU went underground to form an insurgency and armed cells across Mogadishu and elsewhere in Somalia, and are conducting attacks against the government and the allied African Union forces.
Today the extreme Islamist group control most of southern Somalia, and the UN-backed government only runs in small parts of Mogadishu.
Al-Shabaab is well known for recruiting Jihadists to wage war against alleged enemies of Islam. The government of the United States of America recognizes the group as a foreign terrorist organization. The group is also proscribed as a terrorist group by the Australian government, and described as a terrorist organization by the Norwegian and Swedish Security Services.
Al-Shabaab is said to have non-Somali foreigners in its ranks, particularly at its leadership. International Jihadists were called to join the holy war against the Somali government and its African Union and Ethiopian allies. A UN’s 2006 report stated Iran, Libya, Egypt and Syria as the main backers of the Islamist extremists. But schools still manage to operate amid the fighting.
Somalia has not had an effective national government since 1991. Years of fighting and anarchy have left some three million people – half the population – needing food aid.