7 April 2019, Garowe. A sixth group of UNDP sponsored law students have graduated from Puntland State University School of Law this month, following completion of a four-year Bachelor of Law programme. The twenty students, who began the programme in 2014 and completed their studies in October 2018, graduated in a ceremony alongside over 180 fellow graduates at the beginning of April.
The Shariah & Law Scholarship Program for Puntland State University was established in 2008 with the technical and financial support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Somalia. The scholarship programme aimed to create a pool of competent and well trained legal professionals from across Somalia that could build the capacity of the justice sector, which at the time had very few lawyers, judges or prosecutors with formal legal education. The first batch of twenty-three students, which included seven women, completed the 4-year degree programme in 2013.
The scholarship programme is open to men and women from across Somalia and is merit-based, with applicants having to pass their secondary school leaving certificate and an interview process. Including the sixth group of students graduating this year, the UNDP scholarship programme has supported 176 students to graduate with a degree in Law from the university, with over 50 percent of previous graduates finding employment in the legal, political and justice systems, as well as in private businesses and international and local NGOs.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Puntland Vice President Ahmed Elmi Osman wished the men and women graduating a bright future, and encouraged them to use their knowledge to benefit Somalia. “Today is an historic day. There is pride and self-esteem in remaining here in Somalia and using your knowledge to help this country,” he said.
The Speaker of the Puntland Parliament, Abdihakim Mohamed Ahmed, said job opportunities and work experience was key to the success of the those graduating. “I note with pride that previous graduates from this programme are already working for the Parliament,” he said.
Musa Duale Aden, Officer in Charge (OIC) for the UNDP area office in Garowe, said UNDP was honoured to continue supporting young law students through the graduate programme, and highlighted the number of women graduating. “Over forty women have taken part in the scholarship programme since it began. The scholarships project has enabled Puntland to move from having one female lawyer in 2012 to 46 female legal professionals in 2019. Seven women were also appointed as female regional prosecutors in 2016,” he said.
“This is a great contribution to the judiciary and legal system in Puntland and for gender equality, but we hope more women will take part in these programmes,” he added.
It is expected that a further twenty UNDP sponsored scholarship students will graduate from Puntland State University Law Programme over the next two years.
The scholarship programme at Puntland State University is supported by UNDP under a UN Joint Justice Programme, which supports the Government of Somalia to increase access to justice and strengthen rule of law across Somalia. The scholarship is funded by the European Union and governments of Netherlands and Sweden.
Doel Murkejee, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Somalia Rule of Law Portfolio Manager. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keelin FitzGerald, Communications Specialist, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Somalia. Email: email@example.com