Educating Pastoralist children
Why is this an issue for PENHA?
Only 20-30% of the children of pastoralists even get to primary school in the Horn of Africa. This means that they – and their parents – are mostly not able to read or write and so unable to contribute to the future of their country. PENHA is committed to helping pastoralists to represent themselves – and this means providing education.
What is PENHA doing?
PENHA currently has an education project in Kassala in Eastern Sudan which is developing a relevant curriculum. It seeks to be practical and sustainable and may even begin to change some of what is taught in other schools in the Horn. But there are still many children who are not able to go to school because they do not have the money for school uniforms, they do not have the books for reading or the paper for writing and do not have any shelter where they can stay near the school during the week. So they have to walk many miles to and from school every day. In addition, the schools need equipment for teaching, for music, for sports among other things. The money from the appeals made by PENHA is going to help both the children and the schools they are attending.
What do we know about this?
In partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat and with the Council for Education in the Commonwealth, PENHA had a conference on "Educating Nomadic and Pastoralist Children" in September 2007. This report looked at the issue in the Horn of Africa but also in Africa in general and in Asia. The report can be downloaded as a pdf here (261 kb).
How this benefits pastoralists?
The benefit of education to pastoralists – and what difference it makes to their lives – can be seen from the following true stories of pastoralist children from Eritrea and Sudan who received an education.
Abdi was born as the fourth son of a pastoralist family which moved backwards and forwards between Sudan and Eritrea. His two oldest brothers worked with his father herding the family livestock. His next brother had education until middle school – and ended up as a police officer. He then was able to fund Abdi’s education. Abdi went to the local primary school – and then to secondary school (in Keren, Eritrea) and then far away to Addis Ababa university. After only one year all sorts of political problems occurred and the university was closed. He then moved to Sudan (as he was able to as a pastoralist) and did a three year degree course in agriculture in Khartoum. After that he worked for ten years in his own pastoralist community in Kassala, supporting his younger brother and his parents. He is now doing a teacher training course and campaigning for pastoralist children to have education.
Zainab was an only child living in a pastoralist community with no school. At the age of eight, her parents decided that she needed to get an education – and because of the long distance to the nearest school, in the village of Awad, she was taken each day on a donkey by her father. Her father looked after the cattle before collecting her. She got an “A” at the end of primary and was able to go to the “Mediterranean School” in Kassala, Eastern Sudan, as a boarder. After completion, she did a two year teacher training course. Zainab is now back in her own community, teaching in Awad and fully involved in the local community, particularly helping women to deal with health issues. She is also campaigning to get a school built in her own community village.
Amna Ali Fereg was a nomadic child in the remote nomadic village of Kednet. When the freedom fighters opened schools in her pastoralist village, she was able to go to elementary school. She then went to boarding school with her father’s support where she completed junior and high school. She then took the opportunity to join an animal health college and now has a diploma in animal health. She has gone back to her village and is working as a vet with the nomads, helping them with their livestock. She is also part of the community as she lives with them, works with them. As a pastoralist, she and her family have their own livestock.
She says: “I have a salary and my livestock, I live in better conditions than many others who are not educated. My father is happy about my performances.” His comment is: “Many people advised me to remove her from school. But now they understand why I was helping her to learn in school.”