Buy now! - Learn more about Abaarso's extraordinary story in Abaarso Founder, Jonathan Starr's, new book "It Takes A School"
Education at Abaarso School strives to create great people,
not simply great students.
Educating Future Somali Leaders & International Citizens
Education at Abaarso School strives to create great people, not simply great students. Our focus on ethical development (Integrity), determination (Tenacity), and rigorous independent thought (Reasoning), equips students with the characteristics they’ll need to succeed in an international environment, and ultimately, as leaders of the Somali people. Abaarso students are required to take a 30-hour course week, double their US counterpart private schools, as well as to attend 6 days or classes for 9-months of the year. In addition to class time, teachers assign substantial quantities of homework including intensive English language reading.
Abaarso is run in an English immersion environment. All classes are taught in English with the exception of Somali, Arabic, and Islamic Studies, and the vast majority of Abaarso teachers are from English speaking countries.
Abaarso’s English immersion environment progresses students from little or no spoken English to being conversant just months later. By a few years in, many observers assume the students were born in an English speaking country. Reading and writing skills are slower to develop, and for this reason, the majority of Abaarso’s English curriculum focuses on reading and writing.
While Abaarso’s high population of native-English speaking teachers leads some to believe that English is its primary focus, Abaarso takes pride in its mathematics. Abaarso student take traditional math classes as well as classes on our Numbers/Reasoning track that help students get to the essence of math. Students typically spend 8 or more hours per week in their math courses, ranging from fundamentals of primary school all the way to Calculus.
Abaarso’s science curriculum follows the US system of focusing on 1 core science area each year. Students go through a normal progression of general science, biology, chemistry, and physics, and in the future, Abaarso hopes to offer Advanced Placement exams. The school is completing a new fully equipped science building which should improve student learning.
Abaarso’s computer science curriculum provides students with the practical IT knowledge necessary for success beyond their time in Abaarso. In older grades students also learn to program. Abaarso aims to put its students on par with their international peers.
Abaarso’s history curriculum is an inquiry-based program which encourages students to examine the validity of historical sources and to contextualize and compare historical events to deepen their understanding of human politics and society. Lower school students follow a general geography/social studies course, while upper school students examine ancient civilizations, African history, European history and 20th Century world history.
Abaarso’s Arabic and Islamic Studies curriculums follow the syllabus of the Somaliland Ministry of Education. Abaarso prepares students for success in Arabic and Islamic Studies on the Somaliland National Exams.
Growing Character and Improving Fitness While Having Fun
Sports play a large role in Abaarso’s focus on developing the whole child. Whether it is encouraging students to try a new sport such as basketball, honing team play in football, or developing Somalis’ natural gift for running, sports are used to grow the character of our students and bring the school together.
Boys’ Track follows a rigorous training schedule comparable to high schools in the United States. In the fall, the focus is on long distance cross-country running preparing the students for 3-5 K races. In the spring, the focus is on track and field practicing short distance and long distance running, as well as relay races.
Despite having a school of only 120 students, Abaarso’s boys’ football team consistently beat schools from Hargeisa with more than ten times as many students. Overall, the team posted a 2012-2013 record of 25:2:1. In the Spring 2013 term, we hosted and won a tournament competing against numerous Hargeisa secondary schools. Abaarso’s 2012-2013 team was notable for its focus on team play, defense, and passing.
Abaarso has two boys’ basketball teams accepting students from beginner to advanced skill levels. We practice three times per week; however you will find boys practicing on the court almost every day. The teams compete against schools and neighborhood club teams from Hargeisa. In 2012, the varsity team competed in the Somaliland National Federation Championship tournament, taking home first place. In 2013, the varsity team won the 1st annual Abaarso Invitational tournament with a thrilling victory over the favorite from Hargeisa.
The girls cross country team at Abaarso School runs every day at 5:30am, often alongside camels, donkeys, goats, sheep, and the occasional sakaro (rabbit/antelope creature). As most girls in the country enter Abaarso having never competed in any sports, running is a great way to improve their overall physical conditioning. The cross-country team aims to instill a life-long love for running and caring for one’s body.
The “Sakaros” have a history at Abaarso of being a favorite activity for the girls. We practice twice a week conditioning, running drills, and scrimmaging. Being one of only two girls’ basketball teams in the country may limit how many games we can play, but never discourages them from working hard to become better players.
The girls’ football team practices twice per week. Unfortunately, we do not know of any other girls’ teams in the country so the only matches are scrimmages between female teachers and ourselves.
Abaarso Students Get More Than Just an Academic Education
There are many different clubs and activities that supplement the academic education that Abaarso provides it’s students. Clubs help students find passions and develop confidence outside of traditional school subjects.
The art club at Abaarso School of Science and Technology attempts to broaden the horizons of members via thoughtful experimentation with various different art techniques. Most recently, the club has delved into the world of photography via nature walks and portraiture practice, dabbled in painting with several different media, and researched the practice of origami, which culminated in the production of many paper cranes. Art Club seeks to continually try new forms of expression.
The Abaarso School of Science and Technology’s film club meets twice weekly to explore film in the modern world. Alternately watching and creating films, the club seeks to expand student exposure to excellent films from all over the world. Ranging from documentaries to Hollywood blockbusters, film club chooses films based on the opinions of club members, group leaders, and revered critics. When creating films, the club follows a creative process that involves brainstorming, script writing, revision, preliminary shooting, editing, and sound mixing. By creating films, students explore creative topics, drama, and visual storytelling while interacting with community members and discovering the beauty of the surrounding area.
Male students meet 2-3 times a week where they execute strength exercises. The students lift weights and pull-up bars made from recyclable materials. The boys work hard to strengthen their muscles, and enjoy challenging each other in pull up and push up contests.
Girls practice various types of dance in their dormitories. We begin with a cardio workout and stretch routine before learning a new style of dance from around the world. Over the past year, the dance club has learned and practiced Somali dance, Ethiopian, salsa, hip-hop, line dancing, tap, ballet, and Bollywood. The girls end the term with a closed performance for their fellow female classmates and female teachers.
Student Voice is a student run newspaper releasing roughly three issues a term. Sections include News features, Religion, Opinion, and Sports. Students conduct interviews, attend school events and sport matches, and research topics to cover the beats for the school.
Debate club meets three times a week practicing public speaking, developing atypical arguments, and learning debate strategies. Once a term, a school-wide debate is organized by the students with a combination of student and faculty judges. A day of preliminary rounds is held, followed by the semi-finals and final debate round. Student awards are giving to the winning debate pair and the highest scoring speaker.
Students meet twice a week to practice their strategic thinking skills in chess club. A chess tournament is held at the end of the term.
In drama club, students learn how to imitate emotions, people, and improvisation in various situations. Additionally, we practice short plays and dialogues. Students work to improve their stage presence and ability to project emotions.
In Philosophy Club, students study various aspects of philosophy. Students study argumentation, applied ethics, epistemology, and how to apply abstract ideas to the real world.
The psychology club was modeled after a Psych 101 course. The club introduced social, learning, abnormal, memory and personality psychology. At the end of the term, students ran their own psychology experiment.
Abaarso Fosters a Sense of Community
Community is an essential part of the Abaarso life from the day students step on campus. For many students there is a big adjustment to cleaning up after themselves, taking care of their school’s environment, and improving their school and their wider community. However, with time students learn to take pride in their environment, and to think of the well being of those around them. Community at Abaarso School takes many different forms.
The entire Abaarso campus has just a couple staff members assigned to cleaning; this leaves the bulk of the responsibility on the students. Every dorm room is assigned an area of campus to keep clean, and both the areas and the dorm rooms are checked each day. Students are expected to have their beds made, floors swept clean, and clothes put away. Similarly, students are assigned to cafeteria tables and it is their responsibility to keep the table clean and sanitary, clean all the dishes, and take the leftover food to the compost. While the process is monitored, the student community learns to take responsibility.
Every student is assigned a work-time task that will take at least 4 hours/week. These can range from cleaning classrooms to planting trees to tutoring in one of the programs. As students learn responsibility they advance to higher level, more desirable jobs. Many students choose to do extra work-times.
Students elect student council members to represent them. During the first few weeks of school, teachers choose an election committee from the student body. The election committee organizes days for speeches and campaigning. The student body then elects the student council who appoints various committees to help with aspects of student life. To enforce school rules, the faculty holds hearings when necessary with the help of student proctors. Proctors represent the way students should live their Abaarso life and they work with students to stop problems before they reach the faculty level.
Abaarso’s first trips to the orphanage were started in 2010 by a former English teacher. With time this has developed into 4 days/week English and math classes that Abaarso students deliver after their own school day is completed. In 2013, Abaarso School gave its seventh grade entrance exam and four of the orphanage kids took the exam. More than one hundred students took this exam and the four kids each placed in the top 10 in math. Since then Abaarso takes new students from the orphanage each year.
This program started with the school’s creation, as we sought to help the local community while forming a positive bond between the school and the village. Originally, students from Abaarso School walked to the only primary school at Abaarso village to tutor the children. In 2010 this changed to Abaarso Village children coming to Abaarso campus to learn different subjects, with a focus on English and math. In 2013, the first village student joined Abaarso School’s seventh grade class, and new village members come each year. This provides great satisfaction for those students who previously tutored them.
Prior to 2014, Abaarso’s entrance year was 9th grade. In 2014, the entry year changed to 7th grade with very few students being added into the other years. The school generally accepts 46 new 7th graders each year, but fewer than 10 total new students from 8th grade to 12th grade. This makes it far more challenging to enter Abaarso after 7th grade.
It is also common for students to finish grade 7 or even grade 8 at their primary school, and then enter Abaarso and go back to 7th grade. The students who do this recognize that the opportunity provided by an Abaarso education is worthwhile, even it it means repeating one or two years.
The primary means for entrance into Abaarso is through its own 7th grade entrance exam. This examination is created by Abaarso each year and designed to test a student’s current education level, potential, and tenacity. While far from a perfect measure, higher scores have a significant positive correlation with performance at Abaarso.
Entrance examinations are typically held in Abaarso, Burao, Borama and Erigavo, with students from nearby regions expected to make the trip to one of those locations. If there is enough demand then the school may add separate examinations in other regions or even outside Somaliland.
All students must register with Abaarso before taking the exam. Students who show up to the exam without registering may not be accepted. Registration happens at the exam location in the days leading up to the exam.
Cheating in any manner is strictly prohibited from the exam and will result in a student being disqualified. Abaarso also uses its own photo IDs to make sure that the same students who take the exam are the ones who come to campus. If it is found that someone was impersonating another student then they will be removed from school immediately.
We understand that it can be difficult for diaspora students to make it to an entrance exam if they are not in the country at that time. Accordingly, interested diaspora students should email firstname.lastname@example.org with their information including a transcript from their foreign school. They can take the entrance exam when they are in the country, even if that is before or after the exam is given in the rest of Somaliland.
Abaarso’s management and staff work for volunteer pay, which when combined with the efficiency of the school’s operations, allows the school to operate at approximately $1,800 per student each year. This includes the cost of boarding on campus. Accordingly, $1,800 per year is the base rate of Abaarso’s tuition for any student who does not hold citizenship other than Somaliland and Somalia.
Abaarso students tutor at Hargeisa Orphanage and they appreciate the great effort many of these orphans are making despite an extremely challenging surrounding. The school rewards these talented students by accepting at least 2 each year at no tuition charge. Abaarso also provides a little extra money for these students to live on.
Students with Djiboutian, Kenyan, and Ethiopian citizenships generally have more opportunity for schooling in their country. In addition, these students are somewhat less likely to remain at Abaarso for the duration of their education. Accordingly, Abaarso charges $2,700 per year for these students.
Abaarso’s tuition is $5,000 per year for all students who hold passports from countries other than Somalia, Somaliland, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti. While $5,000 is a higher than the rate for Somaliland and Somalia students, it is still far below the cost that an Abaarso education would be if Abaarso’s faculty did not work on volunteer salaries. Comparable international schools throughout the world charge far more in tuition.
The primary reason for the different tuition rate is that holding a foreign passport gives these students and their families access to an education in their home countries that Somaliland and Somalia students do not have. In addition, a majority of diaspora students have in the past left Abaarso without finishing their schooling, leaving the school with a financial shortfall. The school aims to educate all Abaarso students throughout their secondary education, therefore discounts are considered for diaspora students who stay at the school and succeed for longer than two years.
Abaarso’s long-term sustainability and development relies on families doing their best to cover the tuition cost. In the Somali context, it is important for direct and extended families to support their relatives in paying the cost of attendance. The school will not provide financial assistance in cases where it strongly believes that an extended family is capable of paying a higher tuition rate.
In cases where Abaarso believes a strong student’s family truly cannot afford the tuition, substantial financial aid is provided. While this pool of funds is limited, we do try to fund all deserving cases.
Ka hor 2014kii, Abaarso waxay ay qaadan jirtay ardayda fasalka 9aad ah. Sanadkii 2014kii, ardayda fasalka la qaadanjiray wuxuu isku badalay fasalka 7aad iyadoo tiro yar oo arday ahna lagu kordhiyay fasalada kale ee dugsiga. Dugsigu wuxuu guud ahaan qaataa 46 arday oo cusub oo fasalka 7aad ah sannad walba, laakiin tiro wadar ahaan ka yar 10 arday ayaa lagu kordhiyaa fasalada kale.Tani waxay aad u adkaysaa in dugsiga arday aan fasalka 7aad ahayn ay ku soo biirto.
Habka asaasiga ah ee ku biiritaanka dugsiga Abaarso waa qaadashada imtixaanka fasalka 7aad . Dugsigu wuxuu sanad walba diraayaa imtixaan loogu talo galay in lagu tijaabiyo heerka aqooneed, kartiyeed iyo awoodeed ee ardayda.
Sanadkii 2015kii, imtixaanaadka waxaa lagu qabtay Abaarso, Burco, iyo Ceerigaabo iyadoo ardayda ku dhowdhow magaalooyinkaa la rajaynayay inay yimaadan halkaa. Hadii loo baahdo waxaa laga yaabaa inuu dugsigu kordhiyo goobaha imtixaanaadka ee gobolada kale ee waddanka ama dibadiisaba.
Dhamaan ardaydu waa inay iska diiwaangeliyaan dugsiga kahor maalinta imtixaanka. Ardayda timaada imtixaanka iyagoon is diwaangelin waxaa suurtogal ah inaan la aqbalin.Diiwaangalinta waxa lagu qabtaa goobaha imtixaanaadka mudo yar kahor maalinta imtixaanka.
Qishka nooc kasta oo uu yahay aad ayaa looga hortagaa muddada imtixaanka lagu gudo jiro, ardaygii lagu qabtana si degdeg aha ayaa looga saaraa goobta imtixaanka . Sidoo kale dugsigu wuxuu isticmaalaa kaadh aqoonsi oo u gaar ah si loo hubiyo in ardayda dugsiga imanaysaa ay yihiin kuwii imtixaanka galay. Hadii la ogaado inuu arday ku soo galay dugsiga arday kale magacii, waxaa si dhakhso ah looga eryayaa dugsiga.
Waxaan ogaanay inay ku adkaanayso ardayda qurbajoogta ahi inay galaan imtixaanka wadanka haddii aanay joogin halkan. Ardayda qurbajoogta ah ee xiisaynaysa inay galaan dugsiga, waa inay nagala soo xidhiidhaan ciwaankan (email@example.com) iyagoo ku soo diraya macluumaadkooda iyo shahaadada badelka ee ardayga ee wadanka ay ku noolyahiin.Tani waxay noo sahlaysaa inaanu u samayno imtixaan ku haboon ardayda qurbajoogta ah.
Maamulka iyo shaqaalaha iskuulku waxay ku shaqeeyaan mutadawacnimo ama bilaash marka loo eego shaqada culus ee ay hayaan. Iskuulku si uu ushaqeeyo, waxaa uu u baahan yahay ugu yaraan $1800 dollar in arday kasta bixiyo sannad walba.Sida aan soo xusnay tani waxaa ku jirta qiimaha uu iskuulku kushaqeeyo. Sidaa aawadeed, waxaa lagamamaarmaan noqotay in arday kasta oo haystaa dhalashada Somaliland iyo Somalia uu bixiyo $1800 sannadkiiba.
Ardayda Abaarso waxay wax u dhigaan ardayda ku jirta Xarunta Agoomaha ee Hargiesa, waxaanay u bogeen dedaalka dheeraadka ah iyo juhdiga ay agoomahu geliyaan sidii ay wax u baranlahaayeen.
Iskuulka Abaarso, waxa uu abaalgud uga dhigaa ardaydaa agoomaha ah kuwa tacaliinta ugu fiican ee akhlaaqahaana wanaagsan in laba 2 ka mid ah sannad walba la qaato oo ay bilaash wax ku dhigtaan.Waxaa intaasi u sii dheer waxoogaa lacag ah oo nolol kaabid ah oo la siiyo.
Ardayda haysta dhalshada Djibouti, Kenya, iyo Ethiopia ayaa guud ahaan ka fursad badan dhinaca iskuulada wadankooda kuwa ku nool Somalia iyo Somalialnd. Haseyeeshee, waxaa xusid mudan in ardayda ka timaada wadamada kor ku xusan ayna badanaa iskuulka wakhti badan sii joogin. Sidaa daraadeed, iskuulku waxaa uu iyaga ka qaadaa sannadkii $ 2700.
Abaarso waxay u ahayd goob aad ugu wacan ardayda qurbajoogta ah, laakiin nasiibdarro waxaa xaqiiq ah inay ardaydani dhamaan ku guuldaraysteen ama ay ka tageen iskuulka iyagoo ku gudajira 2dii sano ee ugu horeyay. Tani waxay Abaarso ka khasaarisay daadaal iyo wakhti ay galin lahaayeen arday u qalanta. Sidoo kale, waxay tani Abaarso kaga tagtay dhaqaale xumo kadib markii ay ardaydani joojiyeen inay bixiyaan lacagtii markii ay tageen.Haddaba, si loo magdhabo wakhtigan iyo lacagta ardayda qurbajoogta ah maadaama ayna wakhti dheer joogayn iskuulka, waa inay bixiyaan lacag dhan $5000 sannadkiiba. Waanu fahansanahay in tani dad badan oo qurbajoog ah ka cadhaysiiso, laakiin waa inay iyana fahmaan in iskuulka loo maalgeliyey si loogu faaiideeyo ardayda aan fursad u hesheen waxbarasho caalami ah. Dhinaca kale, xataa lacagta ah $5000 sannadkii, aad ayey uga hooseysaa qiimaha iskuulka haddiii aan macalimiintu bilaash ku shaqaynayn.Haddii aynu barbar dhigno meelaha kale iskuulada caalamka, aad iyo aad bay uga qaalisan yihiin iskuulka abaarso.
Yoolka aadka u dheer ee jiritaanka iyo horumarka iskuulka, ayaa waxay ku tiirsantahay iyadoo ay qoysaska/qaraabadu lacagta iskuulka u bixiyaan sida ugu haboon. Somaali ahaan, aad ayey muhiim u tahay in qaraabada iyo waalidiinta ay si toos ah uga caawiyaan ardayda.Iskuulku ka caawin maayo dhaqaalaha ardayda mararka qaarkood, iyadoo la rumaysanyahay inay qaarabadda iyo qoysaku awoodaan inay bixiyaan.
Xaaladaha aanu aaminsanahay in qoysaska qaarkood awoodi karin lacagta ardayga, Abaarso waxay u fidisaa gargaar dhaqaale.Maadaama oo dhaqaalahani xadidan yahay, waxaanu isku daynaaa inaanu ka bixino inta u qalanta baahidan.
“Life at Abaarso is tough and challenging in so many different ways but what is so great about it is that there are amazing people, both students and teachers. I actually regret that I wasn’t close to everyone that I have known at AT because everyone is just special in his or her own way, and you will learn a lot from them by just having a normal conversation. It was a privilege and a great honor for me to meet those people who shaped my life for the better by helping me reach where I am and making me who I am today. Without those amazing people, I would’ve never made it to Westminster School. I can’t ever thank them enough, but thank you all for making me part of AT family.”
– Nadira Yousuf Abdilahi,
Former Abaarso Student, Westminster Class of 2016, Yale Class of 2020