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Camels deliver free education to nomadic pastoralists in Ethiopia’s Somali Region


Tuesday September 27, 2022


Camels being loaded with school equipment ready to follow migrating pastoralist families in Fafan/Photo courtesy of education authority/Ergo 

(ERGO) – When Khadra Good Sulub migrated in August to Adadle village from Dabalweyne in Fafan zone, in Ethiopia’s Somali Region, her children were able to keep up with their schooling thanks to an alternative education programme where delivery is literally made by camels.

Her family of pastoralists have migrated three times since last year and her four children in grade two and four remained in school, with camels organised by the local education authority and Save the Children carrying the books and learning materials to a location near their temporary home.

“We are happy that our children stay with us and attend to our livestock while also getting an education. We didn’t believe until the local education council reached out to us with this new education system.” said Khadra.

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They are among 3,501 children from nomadic families being supported through the free mobile education service operating in the six districts of Fafan (previously Jigjiga).

Khadra says families living their lifestyle in rural areas have a lot of work and they need their children to help.

“I take care of the livestock in the morning, while they attend their classes. They come back in the afternoon and herd the livestock. When I come back I cook for them while they are with the livestock,” she explained.

Khadra, a mother of nine, has 60 goats left after losing 35 to the drought and is focused on getting enough grazing to keep the remaining herd alive. She wants her children to learn although would not be able to afford the fees, food and rent if they had to attend schools in the city.

Ethiopia’s Somali Region education board gives free books and pens to the children. The teachers move with the community, herding their own livestock as well.

The head of education affairs in Harshin district, Sahardiid Abdi Jama, said the programme aimed to ensure that children from pastoralist families are not excluded from education.

“We hope to get people to be able to read and do their maths. Just like in urban areas the people in the rural areas need to get education through this programme called Alternative Basic Education targeting the pastoralist families,” said Sahardiid.

“The pastoralist communities live in areas that cannot be reached by vehicles, and that is why we decided to use the camels. They carry boxes of books and our offices take care of the camels’ health, their fodder and water,” Sahardiid added.

Six men take care of the camels and the government pays each of them $35 a month, providing a job opportunity for the drought-hit families.

Ahmed Yasin Abdullahi is one of camel keepers. He has three children and keeps 50 goats in Tagan-duur village in Harshin. He has enrolled his son in the education programme too.

“I am an employee of the government. When I got this opportunity I was happy since my children also get to study,” said Ahmed.

“I take care of two camels and they carry 125 books as well the blackboards and chalk. Whenever the nomadic families migrate, we migrate with them. The ministry of education provides medicine and other things needed by the camels,” he added.

Bashir Deq Abdi is one of the 120 teachers employed. He is a father of five and his family owns 20 goats in a rural part of Harshin. He said students learn in the morning until midday. He teaches mathematics, science and language classes and worked in public schools for 12 years in Harshin before being transferred to this programme.
 



 





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