Education for nomads bulletin

Material Information

Education for nomads bulletin
SOS Sahel International UK ( Author, Primary )
International Institute for Environment and Development ( Author, Primary )
Kenya. Ministry of State for the Development of Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands ( Author, Primary )
Place of Publication:
SOS Sahel International UK
International Institute for Environment and Development
Kenya. Ministry of State for the Development of Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands
Physical Description:
volume ; 31 cm


Subjects / Keywords:
SOS Sahel (Organization : London, England) ( LCNAF )
SOS Sahel International UK
Arid Lands Resource Management Project (Kenya) ( LCNAF )
Kenya. Ministry of State for the Development of Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands
International Institute for Environment and Development ( LCNAF )
Education ( LCSH )
Nomads ( LCSH )
serial ( sobekcm )
Temporal Coverage:
2009 - 2010
Spatial Coverage:
Africa -- Kenya -- Northern Kenya
2.316667 x 37.966667


General Note:
Inaugural issue: May 2009, Issue 1. Issues are not known beyond 2010.
General Note:
May 2010 (Issue 2) was hosted by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) a frequent partner of SOS Sahel International UK. Its management, and that of its parent programme, Education for Nomads, was transferred from SOS Sahel UK to the Ministry of State for the Development of Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands in Kenya
General Note:
VIAF (name authority) : SOS Sahel (Organization : London, England) : URI
General Note:
VIAF (name authority) : International Institute for Environment and Development : URI
General Note:
VIAF (name authority) : Arid Lands Resource Management Project (Kenya) : URI

Record Information

Source Institution:
SOAS University of London
Holding Location:
Archives and Special Collections
Rights Management:
This item is licensed with the Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial License. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this work non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms.


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Full Text

Highlights of the last twelve months include several
publications, a highly successful inter-ministerial
workshop, and the drafting of Africa’s first national
strategy to provide formal education to nomadic
communities through distance learning.

This bulletin is an update on progress to date, but for
more information on the programme, please visit our
web page at:



In January 2009 the Ministry for Development of
Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands (MDNKOAL)
invited a team of pastoral education specialists to
help in the process of assuring that the new policy for
nomadic education meets the expectations of mobile
populations without interfering in their pastoral

The Education for Nomads (EfN) team has been
working closely with the Government of Kenya,

through both the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the
MDNKOAL, in developing a specific strategy for ‘getting
to the hardest to reach’.

In October 2009, the role of co-ordinating the EfN
programme shifted from SOS Sahel UK to the
International Institute for Environment and Development


During 2009, at the request of the MDNKOAL,

the EfN team met with four different pastoral
communities across Kenya to hear their ideas on how
education might reach nomadic herders. Discussions
were held with small herding groups within Gabra,
Turkana, Borana and Somali communities.

May 2010 Issue 2

These consultations with nomadic pastoralists
pioneered a new use of scenario planning. This
approach is designed in such a way as to strengthen
the existing pastoralists’ skills in analysis and strategic

So far this has resulted in pastoralists talking directly

to their leaders about education, and in bringing their
opinions to inter-ministerial policy debates. In the
longer term, such initiatives will help to address the
disadvantages suffered by the respective communities
over a long period which have resulted in major gaps in
education compared to the rest of the country.

A DVD is in the making that highlights the opinions of
those nomadic communities who were consulted about
education provision for pastoralists. Formal education
via distance learning was recognised as important, in
combination with boarding and mobile schools, if the

page one


state is to reach the pastoral producers. Pastoralists
are very interested in a form of distance learning that
does not compete with herding.


The research carried out in 2009 culminated in a
high-level inter-ministerial workshop in Nakuru (26-
28 January 2010). The meeting consolidated and
refocused all research findings to date and helped
refine a strategy document on distance learning for
nomadic pastoralists.

The workshop achieved close to 100% attendance.
Key government representatives were present,
including the Minister for Northern Kenya Hon
Mohamed Elmi, his Permanent Secretary Mary Ngari,
and the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of
Education, Professor Karega Mutahi.

The agenda was driven by a strong spirit of
collaboration between the two Ministries, technical
specialists, education specialists, academics, and
national and international organisations.

The debates were lively and produced concrete
recommendations that have been incorporated into

‘| think this is a very good workshop, not only
because there are so many people from the
North, but also because of the cross-section of
experts present: technical practitioners, outside

experts. | am grateful for this opportunity.’

Amina lbrahim UNICEF
28th January 2010

May 2010 Issue 2

the strategy document and will affect ministerial plans
over the next three years.

Enabling this shift in government perspective is

the biggest success of the programme to cate.
Government officials, Kenyan academics and retired
educationalists are now proactively pushing for a new
distance learning approach that will reach scattered

“Every child should get a basic minimum of literacy
and numeracy. This should not be at the risk of
being forced to choose between this and their

Honourable Mohamed Elmi

Minister of State for Development of Northern
Kenya and Other Arid Lands

26th January 2010

page two

Getting to the hardest-to-reach: a strategy to provide education to nomadic communities
in Kenya through distance learning - the official summary.


Kenya has committed itself to the Millennium Development Goals, Education for All, and other education targets, but although
its achievement in this respect is perhaps the best in Africa, it is unlikely to achieve these goals on present performance. The
difficulty now is getting education to hard-to-reach children, especially nomadic pastoralists. The Government of Kenya needs
a new strategy urgently if the goals are to be met, and herding and education reconciled. Such a strategy is outlined here,
together with a three-phase programme to implement it.

The Government of Kenya is in the process of establishing a National Commission for Nomadic Education in Kenya
(NACONEK). Its critical mandate will be to serve as the driving force for nomadic education. Research and experimental work
on nomadic education will however continue while NACONEK is being set up.

The main target group are the hardest-to-reach children out of school. The strategy proposed here is concerned mainly with
nomadic children, but other hard-to-reach children, as well as adult pastoralists, are also targeted. The strategy stresses family
involvement in education, by encouraging parents to enroll with their children, and by providing learning materials for adults.

An educational strategy for nomads will combine different delivery methods (boarding and mobile schools, radio broadcasts)
together with new approaches to the way education relates to pastoral livelinood concerns. The Government will continue
current experiments with a variety of delivery mechanisms while recognising the contradiction between pastoral livelinoods and
conventional schooling. There should be major evaluations of the impact of these approaches in two to three years.

The educational use of radio has great potential but little progress has been made so far in harnessing it for nomadic education.
In the immediate future, priority should be given to developing and piloting a distance learning (DL) system for arid and pastoral
areas based principally on use of radio, together with mobile teachers and printed materials. Community radios may be a
suitable model for a radio-based distance learning system. The distance learning system and accompanying materials should
be available to adults and children, and integrated where useful with existing boarding and mobile schools.

A plan should be elaborated through NACONEK to recruit, train and reward teachers for involvement in radio-based education
in the unique conditions of the arid and pastoral areas.

Effective procedures should be developed for enrolling and keeping track of nomadic DL students.

The nomadic education strategy should use the national curriculum to ensure equivalence with the rest of Kenya. Adaptation
of material to the specific conditions of pastoral livelinood systems should take place at the stage of design and production of
radio learning modules, supported by a teachers’ handbook developed for each district.

An evaluation/examination system should be developed which enables children to move back and forward between the DL
programme and the conventional formal education system, and to acquire the same qualification at the end of their course
(Kenya Certificate of Primary Education).

The government should closely moniter the implementation of the strategy and evaluate it in as much detail as possible upon
implementation. An M&E system must be developed which generates adequate data (on capital and recurrent costs, and wider
costs and impacts) for a full evaluation of the distance learning process and how it compares to other ways of achieving the
same objective.

A nomadic education strategy must be based on a positive attitude towards nomacic pastoral livelinoods. The strategy must
incorporate as far as possible the views and opinions of the clients, that is to say the adults and children who are the students
and for wnom the educational system is designed.

Any outstanding legal issues raised by distance learning must be resolved.

The government should explore how to capture potential economies of scale created by a radio-based education system
through collaboration across international borders where the same language is spoken on both sides.

The government should set up a scholarship fund to encourage outstanding nomadic students, especially girls, to continue to
secondary school and university.

The proposed distance learning strategy for nomads should be fully costed in order to understand the implications of such a
strategy and how it compares to other ways of achieving the same objective of education for all.

Kenya has made excellent commitments to nomadic education. The existing national policy framework is an optimistic and
forward-looking agenda which sets out the main features and challenges of nomadic education. It calls for a new approach,
able to go beyond forcing pastoralists ‘to choose between herding and schooling’. The task is now to make this policy
framework operational by filling critical research gaps and through experimental and pilot projects, and thus finally realise
Kenya's education commitments to nomadic children and adults. This strategy proposes a three phased distance learning
programme to accomplish that goal.



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Mobile Pastoralists and Education: Strategic
Options, Saverio Kratli and Caroline Dyer. 2009
IIED. A review of the literature on providing education

to nomads and other hard to reach communities, with a
focus on identifying obstacles and alternative strategies.
The paper addresses a critical set of fundamental issues,
and offers a comparison of approaches specific to Africa
and Asia.

Planning with Uncertainty. Scenario Planning with
African Pastoralists, 2009, SOS Sahel & ITED A
general introduction to the approach that guides EfN
community consultations in Kenya. A DVD is included.
Published in English and French.

Scenario Planning with African Pastoralists: A

‘How To’ Guide, Sue Cavanna and Dauod Abkula
2009, IIED. Complements ‘Planning with Uncertainty’,
describing the process in more detail and providing a step
by step guide for field workers

Getting to the Hardest-to-Reach: A Strategy to
Provide Education to Nomadic Communities in
Kenya through Distance Learning. Written by Jeremy
Swift, this document is based on all the research carried
out in Phase 1 of EfN, including the outputs and the
consultation through an inter-ministerial workshop on
nomadic education. The official summary is provided on
page three of this Bulletin.

Workshop on Nomadic Education, Nakuru, 26-
28 January 2010. A cetailed report of the workshop

including annexes with all presentations.

May 2010 Issue 2


The next few months will be dedicated to designing
a pilot to deliver distance learning to nomadic
pastoralists in two or three districts.

A key focus is to complete the mapping of technical
options and challenges in using radio communication
for distance learning in light of the Nakuru

This is being done through several rounds of
interviews with Kenyan and international specialists,
leading to a wrap-up workshop in Kenya at the
beginning of June.

Look out for more news in the next bulletin!


The mailing list for this programme is moderated but
open. If you know of somebody who is interested in
this work and want to suggest a contact, please let
us know through any of the following contacts


Telephone: +44 (0) 1865403312


Address: Ministry of Northern Kenya
and Other Arid Lands
Bazaar House,

Bishara Street.

PO.Box 79247 - 00200

We thank the Waterloo Foundation for supporting
this work.

Photos: © Sue Cavanna
Front cover photo: © Sarah Witts

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