Abaarso School

16 Jun 2016
Rebecca Zeigler Mano

Abaarso School nurtures the academic, intellectual and character development of promising Somali students so that they can effectively and ethically advance their society. In seven years of operation, Abaarso has graduated three classes, and over 70 students have been accepted on full scholarship to top universities throughout the world, including Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Brown, MIT, Georgetown, Amherst and Oberlin.

Girls at 2015 graduation

Abaarso Graduation 2015

Teachers, predominantly from the United States, work for volunteer salaries, so the school operates on a budget of under $300,000 per year. Tuition is less than 1/10 of comparable international schools, allowing an Abaarso education to be available to the vast majority of Somali families. Nonetheless, about 33% of the school’s students are on financial aid, including students from the local village and from the Hargeisa Orphanage. As part of their development, Abaarso students spend a large amount of time doing volunteer work in their school and community, running a primary school for eighty children from Abaarso village, and tutoring in the Hargeisa Orphanage.

Abaarso students abroad have so far flourished, earning a combined 3.2 GPA at US colleges. In 2015, over 20 alums returned to Somaliland during their summer break, with many volunteering at Abaarso’s orientation for new 7th graders, and others interning at organizations in Hargeisa. The school was founded in 2009 by Jonathan Starr. The current Headmaster is James Linville.