Shabelle campus (file photo) The first campus of Somali National University

History of SNU

The Somali National University was established in 1954 in the Trust Territory of Somalia. It obtained official university status in 1969. The main university grounds were situated about six kilometers from the city center. Here, during the institution’s first thirty years, the main campus was known as Jaamacada Gaheyr (“Gaheyr University”).

In 1973, under the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC), programs and facilities were expanded. The SNU developed over the next twenty years into an institution of higher learning, with 13 departments, 700 staff and over 15,000 students.

Under the Somali revolutionary government, the Ministry of Higher Learning and Culture established research centers in a number of cities, with the goal of developing regional economies. These learning centers were earmarked for employees from such ministries as the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Livestock and Forestry Management.

In the mid-1970s, the teaching college of Lafoole University, one of SNU’s remote campuses, was made a stand-alone institution (“Lafoole Teacher’s College”). The language of instruction was English.

Due to extensive damage to its facilities as well as the difficulty of holding classes and acquiring books and other necessities in the wake of the civil war in the early 1990s, classes at the university were suspended.

Italian was the Somali National University’s primary language of instruction. The university’s main campus was situated in Mogadishu, where residents were already familiar with the Italian language.

From 1973 onward, Somali and English were introduced as additional languages of instruction. All programs at Lafoole College were taught in English. Across the country, there were programs in Af Soomaali run by the Ministry of Culture and Higher Education, the government ministry responsible for scholastic instruction.

When the Somali linguist Shire Jama Ahmed‘s modified Latin script was chosen by the Siad Barre administration as the nation’s official orthography, Somali language courses began to spring up throughout the country. The language of instruction in primary and secondary schools also became Somali.

On 14 November 2013, the cabinet approved a federal government plan to reopen the Somali National University. The refurbishing initiative cost $55.2 million USD. On 16 August 2014, the federal government officially re-opened the Somali National University at a meeting of the Board of the University. The event was chaired by President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who serves as the head of the university’s committee in charge of the curriculum, budget dispensation and faculties.

On 18 September 2014, about 480 pupils took the university’s entry exams, which were supervised by the Chairman of the Somali National University Dr. Mohamed Ahmed Jimale and the Deputy Minister of Culture and Higher Education Mohamed Ahmed Kulan. In October 2014, Speaker of the Federal Parliament Mohamed Osman Jawari and Minister of Culture and Higher Education Duale Adan Mohamed officially inaugurated the first academic year of the Somali National University.

The Somali National University had three main campuses:

  • Gaheyr – Mogadishu at KM 6
  • Digfeer – Medical school near Digfeer Hospital in Mogadishu
  • Lafoole Teaching College – Lafoole.

The first campus, Gaheyr, opened in 1954 and was located at KM 6 (on the Afgooye Road, 6 km from downtown Mogadishu). There were also new expansion buildings across from Gaheyr Campus. The new buildings took some years to complete and were situated on the other side of the Afgoi road, facing Gaheyr.

Most of the new buildings had some sort of circular design to them, and the engineer who designed them was unofficially nicknamed “Engineer O” by the students.

The Somali National University formerly had 13 departments:

  • Department of Sharia Law
  • Department of Linguistics (Somali, Arabic, English, German, Italian)
  • Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Husbandry
  • Department of Education (Teaching College at Lafoole; 20 km west of Mogadishu)
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Geology and Mining
  • Department of Medicine (College of Medicine; near Digfeer Hospital)
  • Department of Chemical/Industrial Engineering
  • Faculty of Economics
  • Faculty of Law
  • Department of Engineering
  • faculty of Political science and Journalism