naasirThe Puntland Development Research Center (PDRC) continues to remain steadfast in the pursuit of Puntland’s Government fully adopting a democratic form of governance. It’s this endeavor, one in which the people and government have countless times through research, polling and multiple studies conducted by our center, voiced their unanimous desire for the long awaited political transformation of Puntland. Indeed, this process is full of obstacles and plenty of challenges; including the urgency of an all-inclusive political atmosphere whereby youth and women are given equal access and opportunities.

Since the launch of the Mobile and Audio Visual Unit (MAVU) in 2010 with longtime partner Interpeace; an outreach awareness tool designed to inform, educate and gather information from communities by means of film forums and facilitated discussions, the MAVU Team travelled numerous times to Galkayo with alternative thematic focus areas. However, throughout the course of implementing activities in Galkayo for the youth of various schools such as Omaar Samatar, Ramadan School, Yawmbays among others-the films screened and discussions held with students remain within the realm of promoting civic education and youth political participation.

Earlier this week, the MAVU Team, following discussions with the management of Ramadan School, travelled to Galkayo to provide assistance and facilitation in the establishment of the school’s first Student Association.

“The idea of setting up a Student Association for our school emerged nearly 6 years ago. Since then, the students and faculty never completely pursued the idea. Yet, after different film forums from PDRC-MAVU-we realized that this research center is truly dedicated to addressing youth challenges: And so, we proposed the idea and remain extremely appreciative for the ongoing assistance extended by your team in making this idea into a reality”, stated Ramadan School Principal Muctar Isaac Hussein.

With over 1000 students enrolled in multi-disciplinary fields, and the majority of students being female and/or youth, this initiative was warmly received by the student body. Moreover, the democratic method in which 21 students are contending for 3 different positions; 100 student representatives assuming the role of voters; and, an electoral committee comprised of 5 people representing civil society, faculty and PDRC is a genuine testament to the reality of increased youth political awareness and aspirations.

“I’m running for the Chairperson position of Ramadan School’s Student Association. There’s a need for increased cooperation among students, faculty and the community. Therefore, in order for us to address the problems facing our youth such as post graduate employment, tuition costs and other significant areas-it’s essential that a student association representing the 1000 plus student body works towards set objectives” stated chairperson candidate Asma Abdirashid Ahmed.

The MAVU Team also provided an orientation workshop, trainings and held consultative side meetings with the candidates, student representatives (voters), electoral committee and faculty over the past few days. Nearly 40 students representing 7 universities and secondary schools in Galkayo were invited to attend the student elections as observers.

“I’m optimistic that, today, the students and faculty of Ramadan School who began and saw this idea through to the end will transpire as the original catalyst which was responsible for a domino-effect; an impact so great and productive that other schools and universities follow this template and end up establishing their own student associations”, stated MAVU Lead Researcher Abdinasir Yusuf.

Student Associations are an integral part of educating and preparing the youth to play a more active role in the wider context of Puntland’s political arena.