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Abaarso School +
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Abaarso School of Science and Technology is a non-profit boarding school in Northern Somalia (Somaliland) founded in 2009. Abaarso School nurtures the academic, intellectual, and character development of promising Somali boys and girls, so they can effectively and ethically advance their society. By staffing the school with mostly American teachers working essentially as volunteers, Abaarso is able to operate at an extremely low cost and can therefore serve the most disadvantaged students in the country on full scholarship, including orphans, nomads, and kids from unsafe areas like Mogadishu.
Abaarso School students live on campus in an English immersion environment steeped in the school values of Integrity, Tenacity, and Critical Thinking. Abaarso’s American-style curriculum, tailored to meet the needs and learning styles of Somali students, is laden with academic and character instruction to prepare students for the rigors of elite higher education institutes.
Abaarso School has enjoyed unparalleled success in the country by placing students from both of its first graduating classes at American schools and universities on scholarship, including MIT, Georgetown, Amherst, Carnegie Mellon, and many more!
Most Abaarso School students come to the school having never read any books in English and read at a 1st or 2nd grade level. Through hard work and a lot of dedication, the average Abaarso School student improves three reading grade-levels per year. However, because the school is located in a resource-stricken environment, teachers have drastic limits on what reading material can be used. It’s impossible to simply order a set of novels or textbooks in Somalia… By equipping Abaarso School with 100 E-readers (50 through used-equipment donation and 50 through cash donations) we could give these hard-working Somali students access to thousands of books and resources that are otherwise unavailable in the country.


Five years ago, Jonathan Starr left his career as an investment manager and moved to Somaliland to found Abaarso School of Science and Technology, a boarding school for the most promising students in the country. The goal was lofty – transforming the number-one failed state in the world through educating and preparing its future leaders. At the time, Abaarso was generally dismissed as a dream; an American trying to change the tides of a floundering Muslim country still on the mend after a destructive civil war. But just five years after its founding, Abaarso School has produced the most promising and accomplished Somaliland students in decades, and the school’s lofty goals are being realized.


Abaarso School students are the first Somali students to be awarded scholarships to American schools and universities in over 30 years. This includes scholarships to MIT, Georgetown (2), Amherst, Carnegie Mellon, and many more elite educational institutes. In all, 47 Abaarso School students have secured scholarships to foreign schools so far totaling over $7 million in scholarships.
Abaarso School also connects its students with their Somali community through various community service programs. In all, Abaarso students generate over 30,000 community service hours each year, which is enough to run a free Primary School for the local village as well as an Orphanage Tutoring Program at the local orphanage. These programs foster a sense of personal responsibility in each Abaarso student while providing the local community with invaluable services.
Abaarso School will have about 180 students for the 2014-15 school year and these E-readers will allow the entire Upper School to have access to thousands of books and resources each year that are otherwise unavailable in the country.

Team Credentials

Abaarso School has been functioning as the largest group of Americans in Somaliland for 5 years. Its founder and Headmaster is a former Investment Manager from the US who has built one of the most efficient educational models in the world, operating at less than 1/10th the cost of other comparable boarding schools in Africa. Abaarso School’s Board of Trustees is an entirely Somali board that passionately represents the interests of the local community and works closely with the school staff.