NOMADIC EDUCATION: WHO ARE THE NOMADS, PROSPECTS OF NOMADIC EDUCATION IN NIGERIA, PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
In recent years, we have witnessed an increase in the efforts of the Federal Government of Nigeria to spread literacy and formal education. Nomadic education is one of the areas on which Federal Government has focused attention in recent years. The present study, therefore, is an attempt to examine the take-off of the nomadic education programme in Oyo State of Nigeria. It begins with the historical background of the programme and then discusses its aims and objectives generally and its establishment in five Local Government Areas of the state. The problems facing the five established schools were also examined.
Who are the Nomads
Nomads are a group of Fulanis referred to as Bororos. Their main occupation is cattle rearing. They live a considerable part of their life in the bush, using temporary tents or huts as their houses. They are mainly concerned with their animals. The scarcity of getting green pastures for their cattle throughout the year makes them to be on the move always. This nature of their occupation makes it necessary to adopt a special or even an unconventional school arrangement for the nomadic children if we would stop paying lip services to that section of the National Policy on Education which says, “Education is the birth right of every Nigerian child, and should be brought close to the environment of the child” (National Policy on Education 1981:32).
Arrangements different from our conventional school system should therefore be made for this mobile group of people because it is clear that their occupational circumstances debarred them from participating in modern education. The National Policy on Education seems to be aware of their problems when it says:
Whenever possible arrangements will be made for such children to assist their parents on the farm in the morning and go to school later in the day.
Furthermore, efforts will be made to get the parents interested in the school activities. Special and adequate inducement will be provided to teachers in rural areas to mate them stay in their job (National Policy on Education 1981:47).
Thus, in pursuance of the objectives of U .P .E. of 1976, the Nigerian Constitution of 1979, the National Policy on Education 1981 and Article 26 of the 1984 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Federal Government of Nigeria published a Blueprint introducing nomadic education in 1987.
From the responses of the five resident teachers of the programme, the researcher advanced suggestions and recommendations for the successful implementation of this laudable programme.
Nomadic Education in Nigeria
The ultimate purpose of human existence and education is happiness. It is the function of primary education to help every pupil to have a happy childhood so that he may consequently become a happy adult. The Bororo Fulanis, both as children and parents, are entitled to a share of happiness which primary education is expected to give. Everyone is entitled to education so as to live a happy life. This is clearly stated in Article 26 of the 1984 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as follows: “Every-one has the right to education. This shall be free at least in the elementary stages.” This belief in human right to education is strongly upheld by the Federal Government. Thus, it was deliberately entrenched into the Nigerian constitution of 1979. It is stated in this Constitution that “Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities for all.” (Nigerian Constitution, 1979: 18).
Education is viewed by the Federal Government as indispensable for both progressive leadership and enlightened followership. In recent years, we have witnessed an increase in the efforts of the Federal Government to spread literacy. The Universal Free and Compulsory Primary Education Scheme launched in September 1976 and the Mass Literacy Campaign in Nigeria from 1982 to 1992 are examples of such efforts. Equal educational opportunity to a child must include the provision of special formal learning experiences that will not adversely disrupt the life style of the learner. The declared intention of universal primary education at its inception in 1976 was, to cater for all sons and daughters of Nigeria. This intention did not materialize during implementation because these ‘sons’ and ‘daughters’ did not equally benefit from the programme. The nomads could not benefit from UPE because, the Nigerian conventional school system did not suit their roles, needs and circumstances.
PRINCIPLES OF NOMADIC EDUCATION
APPROACHES FOR PROVIDING NOMADIC EDUCATION
Nigerian Nomads are at different stages of settling down. Settlement is now an inevitability. At present, we have the transient, the semi-settled and the permanently settled pastoralists. It has become very clear that the nomads represented by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria and other associations, all desire to settle. The process of settling down is certainly expensive and difficult to implement considering constraints of basic infrastructural facilities. As the nomads are in different stages of settling down, no one school system is deemed sufficient in providing them with meaningful education at the present stage. A multi-approach of school systems and resources development will therefore be adopted.
THE SCHOOL SYSTEM
The multi-approaches identified to be likely appropriate in different cases are:
- Regular Schools: These may be used for settled groups. “Helping teachers” may be used to help nomadic children whose performance fall below expectation as a result of unfamiliar curricular contents and teaching method. It is noted that regular school syllabus or curricular content and pedagogy are used for the mobile children. Consequently cattle rearers’ children appear weak due to curricular contents foreign to them.
- On Site Schools: These may be used for semi-sendentary nomadic groups. Such schools should be sited along movement routes at fixed points.
- Mobile School (portable classrooms): These may be used for mobile families depending on their number within a clan cluster. The Koranic Mallam Model could be incorporated with the mobile school system. Here, the Mallams move with the nomads, teaching them the Koran and elements of Islamic culture.
- Mutt Education Programme: This may be used for adult nomadic men and women. The nomadic household model in which classes are organised for parents, and where teachers are provided, following and teaching them to read and write, so that later such adults could also teach their children reading, writing and simple calculation.
- Radio and Distance Education Programmes: These nay be used to aid all educational systems – adopted for the nomads at different levels. Radio programmes, whose style, plot and content reflect the nomadic cultural heritage, radio commercials and sport announcements,’ and radio discussions by highly experienced Fulanis would go a long way to enrich the content of the formal education of the nomads. It Is noted that the nomads carry their radio sets along and listen to them as they trek. This factor can be exploited In educating them.
PRACTICE OF NOMADIC EDUCATION
Having raised livestock for centuries, the Fulani have evolved a herding system that withstands time, weather, social change, and government intervention. The movement of the Fulani over the years has led to a pastoral calendar in which the location and the grazing habits of the Fulani can be predicted. This section examines the occupations of the Fulani. It discusses their movement pattern and herd management system.
The name Fulani has become synonymous with grazing and cattle ownership. Fulbeness, pulaaku, is determined by the extent of Fulani involvement in herding. The primary occupation of the Fulani is herding, followed by farming. Less than a tenth of the Fulani have jobs other than herding or farming. Non-herding jobs are seasonal and opportunistic. For example, during the wet-season, the Fulani take advantage of the abundant rain and manure to plant corn, millet, sorghum, and home gardens in their backyards.
The Fulani use farming to absorb the excess of labor during the wet-season, to reduce dependence on farmers, to counter food shortages during an impending drought, and to get farm stubble for their animals. A negative value is obtained when the frequency of movement is correlated with the extent of cultivation, indicating that the more mobile the Fulani are the less they engage in farming.
The household is the simplest, full-time, cattle-breeding unit. Every member of the household contributes to, and benefits from, raising animals (Stenning 1959). Labor is specialized. By assigning labor to gender and age groups, the pastoral Fulani optimize their production methods (Wilson 1985). Although the Fulani share the herding task, men’s work differs from women’s, as adult’s work differs from children’s. Labor differentiation is not, however, rigid among this sample of the Fulani. Regardless of age or gender, a member of the household learns all the herding skills.
The management of the herd devolves on the men, but children, in their capacity as apprentices, also contribute to the labor-force. Men, who ensure the corporate existence of the family, are the primary household providers. They protect the animals from carnivores and raiding tribes. They take the animals to long-distance pasturelands. Men also find fodder, dig wells, and make weapons such as guns, knives, swords, herding sticks, and bows and arrows. Among the Fulani, the adult male find the grazing-sites, build the camps and the fences, and perform soil and water tests (Riesman 1977, 64; Fricke 1979; and Michael and others 1991, 22).
Culinary responsibility falls on the women who process and cook the food. Girls and women weave mats, spin cotton into thread, make household decorations, and collect herbs and vegetables. They buy food from the market, milk the cows, churn the milk, make the butter, sell milk and butter, and do craft work such as decorating calabashes (Riesman 1977, 64; and Fricke 1979). Women also grow vegetables, and raise poultry and non-ruminant stock. Women and girls clean the compound. They look after the disabled animals, fetch water, collect firewood, collect wild-food, help in making temporary shelter, and bear and nurture the children (de St Croix 1945; Vengroff 1980; and Awogbade 1983).
The role of the elderly
Without a specific retirement age, most Fulani continue herding well past the middle age. When a pastoral Fulani man becomes old and incapable of performing the rigorous herding task, he relinquishes the responsibility to his sons (Fricke 1979). He then settles in the camp and acts as the chief adviser on family and herding matters. His wealth of experience makes him the trainer of the emerging household heads. An important function of the elderly in the Fulani society is making decisions about grazing movement.
STRATEGIES / METHOD OF TEACHING EDUCATION OF NOMADS
It is proposed that the type of resident teachers for this programme should be Fulbes. Where this is not possible, local persons outside the community could be recruited, provided they are familiar with the life style of the nomads and could speak Fulfulde, the language of the Fulani, fluently. They should be grade two teachers with some years of teaching experience. They should be given & special in-service training, through organised workshops or seminars. The assistant teachers or teachers’ aides should be literate, influential’ and should be able ‘to liaise between the resident teachers and the community.
CURRICULUM FOR NOMADIC EDUCATION
Curriculum, in this context, is seen as activities, experiences, skills, knowledge and beliefs which the nomadic child will be exposed closely related to the in broad outline, that to in school. Thus, the curriculum should be life-style of the nomads. It is recommended, the nomadic education curriculum will comprise:
- Language Arts – Under this Fulfulde, Hausa and English Languages should be taught-;
- Arithmetic/Mathematics – simple Mathematics for everyday use;
- Social Studies:
(a) History of ‘the Nomadic Fulani and Nigeria;
(b) The pullo, culture including the Pulaaku;
(c) The culture of other Nigerians;
(d) Civics; and
- Religious and moral instruction;
- Elementary Science:
(a) Animal Management, Including cattle rearing, poultry and fishing, where applicable;
(b) Agricultural Science, including pasture regeneration;
(c) Physical and Health Education; and
(d) Nature Study.
- Creative Arts:
(b) Writing; and
(c) Other creative activities.
- Home Economics:
(a) House-keeping and other related activities;
(b) Vocational instructions – weaving, sewing, carpentry etc.
FACTORS / PROBLEMS RELATED TO NOMADIC EDUCATION
(a) Mobility and Sparse Population: Sparse distribution of the nomad population is the foremost obstacle limiting children’s attendance in school. This low population density makes it difficult to gather enough pupil population to make it cost-effective. If facilities are provided to such sparse population, costs per pupil are far higher than schools in towns and villages.
(b) Child labor: Because of the labor-intensive nature of the herding economies (Gorham, 1978), children of pastoral nomads are significant contributors to the household income through their labor, even from an early age. Among these communities children (especially boys) are viewed as an economic asset. Such economic benefits are cultivated in the short term, the children being useful to help the family raise livestock. They look after animal herds (e.g. sheep goats, camels, etc) and undertake most household duties. Therefore, parents need to maintain their children’s contribution and at the same time avoid the cost of schooling. Thus a limited number of rich families will be inclined to send their children (preferably boys) to school (Jama, 1991). Physically handicapped children considered not-fit for the nomadic way of life are sometimes given the chance to attend school in towns or villages. For some time pastoral communities have been aware of the long-term benefits of educating children, but the cost of educating remains a major obstacle.
(c) Direct Costs: If a pastoral nomad’s children are to receive uninterrupted education and in suitable facilities, they have to be sent on scholarship to towns and villages and parents must meet all the costs in cash. As long as most pastoral nomads do not consider schooling a long-term investment, they are not willing to pay for their children’s education. Although in Somalia education was pronounced free, the cost of school uniforms, exercise books, and transportation expenses, constituted a substantial burden to add to the expenses to cover the pupil’s living in town or village.
(d) Attitude and Values: Nomads in Somalia view both schools and schooling as alien things that do not contribute to the pastoral way of life. Pastoral nomads’ independence and reluctance to change their traditional ways poses a major obstacle. They believe that such facilities will in the end alienate their children from them and the society at large.
Parents with such attitudes are illiterate and have never experienced the benefits, if any, of modern education.
School Related Factors
(i) Curriculum. The contents of the curriculum is generally considered inappropriate for the children of pastoral nomads. It does not provide practical skills to improve the livelihood of nomads. Rather, it is believed, it focuses on academic achievements that only suit the needs of urban children. There is a lack of demonstrable practical benefits for the pastoral economy (Gorham, 1978).
(ii) Ouality of schools/Teachers. Rural primary schools which pastoral nomads may have access to are qualitatively poor in terms of facilities and teaching staff. The management and supervision of officials are not effective either. Low salaries of education personnel creates a reluctance to live away from their urban families, leading to an unequitable geographical enrollment of schools and an unwillingness of younger staff to leave urban centers. It is therefore very difficult to place quality staff in schools accessible to nomads.
SOLUTION TO NOMADIC EDUCATION IN NIGERIA
The government of Somalia realized the importance of education for overall national development but did not acknowledge, let alone obligate itself to extend this service to the bulk of the population. Innovative projects which addressed the educational needs of pastoral nomads are limited and those which took place were either short-lived or not sustainable. What follows are a few trials towards this goal: Nomadic Resettlement Programme, Rural Development Campaign and Nomadic Education Centers.
The benefits of the settled way of life were particularly appreciated by mothers and children. They had schools and day-care centers, medical help and mother and child health care centers. The resettlement areas were large and quickly took on the shape of small towns, where the new arrivals fully participated in the running of the ‘new towns’.
To conclude, education plays a key role in the socioeconomic development of the Nigerian society. Despite the importance of education, many Fulani have not embraced it. Mobility, lack of fund, faulty curriculum design, and dependence on juvenile labor are some of the causes of paltry participation of the Fulani in schooling. Of serious concern to the Fulani also is the fear that Western education will have a Christian influence on the Fulani children who are predominantly Muslims. The Fulani express their grudges on the N.C.N.E. and its management, accusing it of alienating the Fulani in educational planning and implementation. Despite these obstacles, there is prospects that education will spread among the Fulani, especially with the bleakness in the future of pastoral nomadism
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