This blog was written by Suaad Abdulle, Somali Institute of Special Educational Needs and Disability.

In the ever-evolving landscape of global education, attending the UKFIET conference is akin to embarking on a journey of enlightenment. In the capacity of a representative from the Somali Institute of Special Educational Needs and Disability, I had the privilege of not only attending but also presenting at this prestigious event. This blog post is a reflection on my enriching experience at UKFIET 2023, where the theme was “Education for Social and Environmental Justice: Diversity, Sustainability, Responsibility.” Alongside my colleagues from the Ministry of Education in Somalia and Care International, we presented our insights on disability inclusion in Somalia, celebrating the achievements made thus far.

The theme: Education for social and environmental justice

This year’s conference theme resonated deeply with the challenges and opportunities facing education in Somalia. It called upon us to re-evaluate our roles as educators, researchers, and policymakers in the pursuit of a more just and sustainable world. It was a reminder that education is not just about imparting knowledge but also about fostering values, social cohesion, and environmental stewardship.

Nidhi Singal’s keynote address

One of the highlights of UKFIET 2023 was the keynote address delivered by Professor Nidhi Singal. Her address was not just an ordinary speech; it was a call to action, a summons to reimagine inclusive education through a framework rooted in rights, resources and research. Professor Singal emphasised several critical points that resonated deeply with our work in Somalia:

  1. Holistic education: She urged us to think holistically about the education of all children. This resonated particularly with our efforts to ensure that children with disabilities are not left behind in Somalia’s educational landscape. Inclusivity is not a buzzword but a commitment to embracing the diversity of learners.
  2. Listening to voices: Professor Singal reminded us of the importance of listening to the voices of children and communities, especially in the global south. In the context of Somalia, this is crucial for crafting policies and programs that are culturally relevant and sensitive to the unique challenges faced by our communities.
  3. Avoiding categorisation: It was a powerful reminder not to categorise children with disabilities as a homogenous group. Each child is unique, and their educational needs and aspirations vary. Our approach in Somalia has been evolving to consider this diversity in our inclusive education initiatives.
  4. Intersectionality: Professor Singal highlighted the significance of intersectionality. It’s not just about addressing disability; it’s about understanding how multiple identities and forms of discrimination intersect. In Somalia, this means acknowledging the complexity of issues related to disability, gender, and socioeconomic factors.

Suaad Abdulle taking a selfie in a session at UKFIET Conference 2023Girls’ Education Challenge

Another enlightening session was the discussion on the Girls’ Education Challenge. This session shed light on the most marginalised girls in low-income countries, including Somalia. It emphasised the urgency of addressing gender disparities in education, especially in societies facing adversity. We left this session with a renewed commitment to promoting girls’ education in Somalia.

Global networking

One of the unique aspects of UKFIET is the opportunity it provides for networking. I had the privilege of meeting and engaging with attendees from over 60 countries. These interactions allowed for the exchange of ideas, experiences, and best practices. It was a powerful reminder of the global community’s shared commitment to improving education worldwide.


My experience at UKFIET 2023 was not only professionally enriching but also deeply inspiring. It reinforced our mission at the Somali Institute of Special Educational Needs and Disability to champion inclusive education in Somalia. Professor Nidhi Singal’s call to action and the insights gained from sessions like the Girls’ Education Challenge dialogue have given us new perspectives and tools to further our cause.

As we move forward, we are determined to continue embracing diversity and inclusion in our education system, ensuring that no child, regardless of their background or abilities, is left behind. UKFIET 2023 has been a stepping stone in our journey towards a more just, sustainable, and inclusive education system in Somalia. It is a reminder that, together, we can make a difference in the lives of countless children and communities around the world.