Children’s access to Primary education in dasenech and nyangatom Pastoralist communities of south omo: Prospects, challenges and Policy Implications

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Addis Ababa Universty


This study explores into impediments of pastoral children’s access to and retention in primary education with particular emphasis on the educationally underprivileged pastoral communities in Dasenech and Nyangatom districts of South Omo, Ethiopia. The study was guided by three research objectives: (1)Exploring into the underlying factors that interfere with pastoral children’s school enrolment and retention focusing on supply and demand side determinants; (2) Examining compatibility of the existing approaches to educational service delivery to the needs and contexts of the pastoral communities in the study area; and (3) Scrutinizing the situation of primary education delivery in terms of ensuring equal opportunity to both boys and girls. Principal research method adopted to undertake the study was a qualitative inquiry approach. Within the qualitative paradigm particular attention was given to advocacy perspective. The advocacy perspective was adhered to for it focuses on the needs of marginalized groups in view to bringing about change in lives of the underprivileged segments of societies. Participants of the study were selected by employing purposive sampling mainly on the basis of their roles related to schools and schooling. Sixty-nine community members, 30 schoolchildren, 30 teachers, 6 school principals heading the sample schools, 24 education experts and officials working at Woreda and zone levels; a total of 159 respondents took part in the study. Data were collected through the use of focus group discussion, interview schedules, observation checklist and questionnaire. Data analysis was carried out pursuant to a six steps qualitative data analysis framework. The steps involved were organizing and preparing data for analysis, reading through all data, coding, generating a description of the settings and people and identifying categories or themes for analysis, representing descriptions and themes in the qualitative narrative and interpretation. Findings indicate existence of both supply and demand side constraints. Problem of funding, inability xii to attract and retain qualified teaching staff, poorly equipped schools and community perception of modern education as a threat to pastoralist way of life were the major supply related shortcomings. The demand side limitations were identified as dispersed settlement patterns, demand for child labour, bride-price and peer pressure. Mandatory seasonal mobility, frequent conflicts and conflict induced displacement were cited as the most pronounced disenabling features. Drought and harsh weather were the driving forces of mobility. Competition over water sources and pastureland coupled with border dispute and cattle raid were identified as the long standing causes of armed conflict which in turn result in school activity disruption. On the basis of findings obtained from the study process, suggestions for future action have also been forwarded. Improving quality of school facilities, sensitization campaign on the benefits of education, blended mode of delivery, peace dialogue to arrest recurring conflicts, self-proof of schools about their worthiness to the local community and rethinking of teacher incentive mechanisms are some of the important propositions made in view to avert the long standing legacy of educational under representation of the Dasenech and Nyangatom pastoralist communities in South Omo.



access, bride-price, cattle raid, conflict, Dasenech