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Promoting flexible education for nomadic populations in Africa

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©Commonwealth Secretariat
29 June 2006 - Increased access and retention to education and training opportunities for nomadic populations was the aim of a four-day workshop held in Garissa, Kenya, from 20 to 23 June 2006. This has been a challenge for governments and educationists due to the mobile lifestyle and migratory nature of nomads. 

The workshop 'Forum on Flexible Eduaction: Reaching Nomadic Populations in Africa' was organised by the Social Transformation Programmes Division (STPD) of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth of Learning and Kenya's Ministry of Education in collaboration with UNICEF. The programme involved more than 40 participants from Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Delegates from Ethiopia and Somalia also attended the event.

Dr Henry Kaluba, Head of the Education Section of STPD, said: "The forum brought together researchers, education practitioners working with nomadic groups, civil society and nomadic people, to pool together research findings and activities. The aim was to explore innovative approaches in the delivery of education and to share experiences in improving training opportunities. There is potential for the use of open and distance learning and the application of information and communication technology (ICT) to education." 

He said the workshop discussions, which would include the role of non-formal education, would help improve access and quality in education for nomadic children. Dr Kaluba said the discussions would also help in shaping future plans and strategies to improve access to quality education for nomadic populations as they examined current government policies, practices and initiatives that have supported the effective delivery of education to nomadic children, particularly for girls.

Commonwealth African countries with significant nomadic populations are Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria and Tanzania. Nomads are categorised into three major groups based on their mobile lifestyle: the pastoralists, the migrant fishermen, and the hunter-food gatherers.

"The national education systems have, generally, failed to reach nomadic communities. All the education indicators reveal that nomadic groups are at the low end of national statistics in enrolment, participation, class-room performance, gender balance, achievement, progression to the next level of education and training," Dr Kaluba stated.

Discussions included innovative teacher education practices for effective delivery of education, the recruitment and training of teachers from nomadic communities and incentives to motivate teachers to stay with mobile nomadic communities. Dr Kaluba said the benefits and challenges in using open and distance learning and ICT to upgrade and train teachers, and its general usefulness for reaching nomadic communities, were also discussed. 

"The knowledge and experience amassed from the workshop should assist the participants to work towards the realisation of the target to have education for all as well as the Millennium Development Goals," Dr Kaluba pointed out.

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Source: CNIS - Commonwealth News and Information Service Issue 291, 28 June 2006


 

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