Pastoralists or nomads are one of the groups most excluded from education. The remote locations where they live and herd their camels, sheep and goats, and the need to move around to look for places to graze, makes it difficult for them to access basic services such as education and health. In many regions where we work, this problem has also been compounded by ongoing conflict.
Making education provision a reality for pastoralist groups means making education fit their way of life, and not the other way round. Pastoralists move with their herds, but schools are stationary. Most pastoralist children have traditional duties that are part of their heritage and way of life but which conflict with regular school hours.
AET works to overcome these challenges. We train educators who are able to provide education that is relevant to them. We help people identify a viable teacher within their community. AET then supports these people to gain the skills and training necessary to be able to teach others basic literacy, numeracy and life skills. This training focuses on the skills that are requested by the community to meet their needs and support their way of life.
These teachers provide education not just to children but to the community as a whole. With so many pastoralists having missed education as a child, there is a lot of interest and demand for education at all levels from early childhood through to adults. Including girls in these lessons is less challenging when the lessons are offered by someone the community trusts. To support the teachers in their work, we help communities develop livestock holdings that generate an income to pay the teachers’ salaries.
This project is currently operating in Somalia where 60% of the population is composed of pastoralists. There are currently 42 pastoralist communities which now have teachers as a result of our programme and everyone in these communities, from young children to older adults, now has access to basic education and skills training.
When education fits with a community, it helps open up a world of possiblities. While static schools don’t work for mobile communities, when teachers are willing to move with communities, education is possible.