Information regarding National Service. [SOM3619]

According to Mr. Abdullahi Adam, a prominent member of the Arab Canadian community, the Somali National Service is two-pronged; the Halane on the one side and the National Service on the other. Once students graduate from high school in June or July, they are obliged to report to the Halane, a political and military training school, for a mandatory 6 month course. Following that, the young adults are sent to different parts of the country to work in various fields, be it educational, agricultural, medical and social. Apparently it is the government's way of indirectly recovering payment for the education it provided to these young adults. Mr. Adam states that one does not have any choice regarding the region of their posting. Most of the postings, lasting between one and one and a half years, are situated in the rural areas. The president of the North Somali Association in Montreal corroborates the above information, but states that choice is permitted regarding the field of service and the region.

The director for Research Resource Division for Refugees at Carleton University stated that the persons participating in the National Service have no choice in determining the region of their posting.

According to Mr. Allan Ebert, a Washington DC lawyer, aspects of the National Service are transformed as the political and military situation in the country changes. Therefore it is difficult to treat it as an organization with a firm set of rules and terms of service. Mr. Ebert states that high school graduates, both male and female, commence the Halane program in August for a period of 3 months. At Halane, students follow a regimen of political socialist training along with military training, which entails much physical exertion and weapon use. On the average, Mr. Ebert states that the daily program consists of 16 hours of training, 2 hours free-time and 4 hours sleep. Food is generally served twice daily and consists of meagre portions of tea, bread and rice or porridge.

Upon graduating from Halane, the students are either assigned to a school anywhere in the country or are sent to military service in the army. According to Mr. Ebert, the latter situation has been more frequent due to the military operations of opposition groups, particularly the SNM. Should they be sent to teach in a school, the duration of their term is usually for 9 months. Once the National Service is completed, the students are then ostensibly permitted to choose between military service and university. However, according to Mr. Ebert, students must not only complete Halane before they may receive their high school diploma, but must also pay extra. Completing the required documentation from various government offices for acceptance and finally for registration in a university, is time consuming. Mr. Ebert states that anyone suspected of ties to opposition groups or holding political views different from those of the ruling party, would not be granted access to university.

Attached please find an excerpt from:
George Thomas Kurian, Encyclopedia of the Third World, vol.II, New York: Facts On File, Inc., 1978, pp. 1304, 1310 & 1311.