Beyond the mainstream: education for nomadic and pastoralist girls and boys
Some of the key issues highlighted in the paper include the limited, and failed, provision of static schooling, or projects which have focused on getting nomadic boys and girls to adapt to the formal system. Yet experience in the non-formal sector indicates that interventions that are community-based, and that respond to context and mobility patterns, can work. These should include modification and flexibility, such as adjusting the school calendar to ensure appropriate timing, or adapting the curriculum to ensure its relevance.
Some gender specific issues discussed include safety issues for girls - decisions about where to locate static schools have important implications for girls. Pastoralist children may have to walk far to and from school which raise specific safety issues for girls en route, and also in school, where they may be more vulnerable to abuse. Food and nutrition is also a vital consideration - in drought-stricken pastoralist zones of the Sahel, in-school feeding programmes are essential if boys and girls are to attend school, given the many hours they spend walking there and back. Parents may let their sons sleep on the school floor during the week, but not their daughters.
The paper argues that education for nomadic and pastoralist children must be accorded the same official recognition and status as formal government schooling elsewhere to avoid their further marginalisation. Specific recommendations to the government and non-governmental agencies agencies include:
To government agencies:
- base policy on an analysis of the obstacles and inequalities faced by nomadic and pastoralist girls and women, inside and outside of the school
- ensure availability of national-level cultural, economic, and social data on nomads and pastoralists, disaggregated by sex and by region/province/district, to inform education policy making
- end user fees and hidden costs for education
- provide specific training for teachers to address linguistic and cultural differences and gender inequality, and concurrently promote the training of local teachers.
To non-government agencies:
- exchange experiences, communicate, and learn from good practice in order to influence policy and practice
- prioritise gender analysis in all work
- raise the profile of nomadic and pastoralist communities education and specific needs within NGO coalitions
- encourage community participation in schooling, involving women and men.