Since the development of the Policy Framework for Nomadic Education in Kenya (2009), several legal and policy documents have been developed to guide the direction of the country and the education sector. Key among these include the Constitution of Kenya 2010, the Sessional Paper No.14, 2012, the Basic Education Act 2013 and the National Education Sector Plan (NESP) 2014-2018.In order to fast track and put the agenda of nomadic education in Kenya’s socioeconomic and political focus, the Government has established a National Council for Nomadic Education in Kenya (NACONEK), with a Secretariat. 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 has established 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 continue implementing nomadic education universally to reach out to all ASALs counties.
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 realize Kenya’s education commitments to nomadic children and adults.
The strategy with NACONEK 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.
The reviewed policy aims at addressing three distinct challenges that are in the pastoral nomadic counties and marginalized groups urban informal settlements: how to close the gap between these regions and the rest of the country in terms of access, quality, relevance and gender disparities in education, how to protect the environment and institutional arrangements in these regions, which are so essential to economic productive systems and way of life in ASAL areas across the country and promote sustainable development, and how to coordinate education programmes in these regions and mobilize additional to support investment in education in these regions.
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 livelihood concerns. The Government to explore various experiments with a variety of delivery mechanisms while recognizing the contradiction between pastoral livelihoods and conventional schooling
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 livelihood 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 monitor 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 nomadic pastoral livelihoods. 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 whom the educational system is designed.
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.
All four pastoralist groups; Turkanas, Gabras, Borana and Somalis have a common critique of the education system, highlighting the way in which it separates children from their culture and way of life. This concern is about more than the physical separation of children from their families and the loss of their labour to the household economy. It is also about how the values and knowledge children acquire through the school system may affect their attitude towards their home environment. Educating a child within the present system is clearly done at significant cost to the family, which is far more than financial: