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Kenyan pastoralists call for mobile schools

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Kenyan pastoralists call for mobile schools

By SSI staff writer

NAIROBI, Kenya- Kenyan pastoralists want the government to introduce mobile primary schools in their areas to ensure that every child in their communities has access to education.

The communities said this week that owing to their lifestyles of moving from place to place in search of water and pastures, they could not yet realize the full benefits of the Universal Free Primary Education (UFPE) introduced by the government three years ago.

The communities say they were unable to access schools which were located in far places in village settlements which are often deserted in pursuit of water or pastures in times of drought, thereby denying children the chance to go to school uninterrupted.

“We should not continue assuming that pastoralist communities in Kenya were enjoying the benefits of UFPE education in Kenya while many attend class for less than a month owing to the nature of our lifestyles,†said Dr Bonaya Godana, the Mp for the North Horrin Marsabit district of northern Kenya.

“The government must tailor education programs to suit the lifestyles of pastoralists if at least 40% of our children are to acquire primary level education,†added the mp, whose Burji community members are pastoralists.

This can only be achieved by moving teaching staff to wherever communities move with their herds.

Temporary schools made of tents and moved by camels including teaching materials and tented shelter for teachers must also be provided if education is to reach all, the leaders added.

Livestock-based economies should not be seen as any less important to an agri-based economy, speakers argued, and hence the government should not view moving of schools as expensive.

These sentiments were echoed by Ibo Yusuf, a community leader from Garissa in eastern Kenya, who said that the time had now come for authorities to design culture friendly educational programs to suit such marginalized groups.

The two leaders were speaking in Nairobi this week during the pastoralist community’s cultural exhibition week, in which the communities displayed traditional foods, houses, tools, attire, utensils and various aspects that capture their daily lives.

About 30% of Kenya’s 31 million people are pastoralists, who live in arid Northern, Northeastern, and the Rift Valley regions of Kenya.

Prominent among the communities are the Massai, Turkana, Somali, Borana, pokot, Samburu, Burji,Rendile and Ormo peoples.

The communities have some of the lowest levels of literacy and school enrolments owing to their conservative lifestyles and harsh climatic conditions of the areas they occupy.

Out the two million children who have joined school since the introduction of the UFPE, it is estimated that only 10% are from these communities.

Cattle rustling, drought, and at times hunger are some of the factors that have been identified as keeping children out of school.

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