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The militant group al-Shabab, one of several vying for control of Somalia, has ordered all schools to quit teaching English or face violent consequences.

Since Somalia has had no government for more than 20 years, all schools are run by charitable groups.

The militant group ordered teachers to replace English with Arabic.

The Arabic-language al-Quds al-Arabidaily newspaper based in London said al-Shabab has banned any use of English in the southern Somali city of Chisimaio. The town has six middle and high schools that teach classes in English, while local elementary schools use Arabic.

The English ban is badly thought-out, said one teacher, noting that some schools use total-immersion English classrooms to encourage students’ fluency. In such classrooms, all conversation must be in whatever language is being taught. Sometimes the process includes math and science — helping students of particular languages to be able to survive in a country speaking that language.

“We were following a program used in Kenya, Sudan and Malaysia that uses only English in the classroom to prepare students to study in a foreign university,” noted the teacher. “Now we can’t even teach and will have to replace our teachers who come from Kenya and can’t speak Arabic”

Islamist groups in control of areas outside the capital Mogadishu have also ordered shopkeepers to substitute English signs with those in Arabic.

Al-Shabab has an alliance with Al-Qaida and has not shied away from using terror tactics in its fight to control Somalia. In 2010, the group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Ugandan capital Kampala that killed about 75 people who had gathered to watch a TV broadcast of the World Cup soccer finals.

Somalia has been without an effective government for about 20 years. Uganda leads a military coalition of African countries deployed in Somalia to keep the troubled country out of the hands of radical Islamist militants — many dominated by competing warlords whose paramilitary gangs run various neighborhoods in Mogadishu and entire towns in the countryside.

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