For nomads and migrant fishermen there is no realistic chance to benefit from the formal education system. Even if a nomadic family could arrange to send a child to school by living with member of the family, the type of education he/she could get in the formal school would not help him or her in the nomadic environment.
Providing education for nomadic people in the traditional manner confronts the teaching profession with a series of headaches. School buildings, classrooms, benches, desks, teaching equipment and timetables of subjects and activities for the term are all irrelevant for people who do not stay in one place for more than a few weeks at a time.
The nomad is certainly an awkward customer for the services and structures of the modern education system. They are seen as dispersed and somehow aimless, obstinate and an inferior sort of person. It is very difficult to provide them with classes or clinics, or take any of the advantages of social services. This outlook seems to be in line with ‘blaming the victim’. Nomads are always blamed for causing their own problems. Thus it is imperative to ask whether the pastoral nomads are awkward customers or whether the supplier is biased? Unless this question is addressed there is little hope in taking serious steps to develop the education of pastoral nomads.
WHO ARE THE NOMADS AND MIGRANT FISHERMEN?
The Migrant Fisher people are those who live in the riverine parts of Nigeria stretching from Bayelsa (which is over ¾ riverine); Rivers, Delta, Edo, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Cross Rivers, Ondo, Ogun, Lagos, Abia and some other states in the federation e.g. Niger, Borno, Adamawa and foreign countries like Ghana, Cameroon, Togo etc. They migrate from their autonomous communities in search of fish as dictated by:
- The type of fish required or in the season
- The movement of the tide
- The seasons of the year
The migrant fishermen engage in creek and deep sea fishing. They can be off for two or more days sleeping and eating on their boat. If they are unlucky, the whole family can perish in the sea due to the harsh waves. At times some members may perish while only one or two will come home alive.
Fishes caught include:
- Hammer Shark
- Ordinary Shark
- Shore fish – fish whose teeth are so large that they can be used as ladder to climb to the roof top. Unfortunately, for some time now, this specie of fish has disappeared.
- Ray fish
- Flying surd fish
They use crane to tow some of these fishes to the shore because of their size and weight.
A nomad is a person with no settled home, moving from place to place as a way of obtaining food, finding pasture for livestock, or otherwise making a living. The word nomad comes from a Greek word that means one who wanders for pasture. Most nomadic groups follow a fixed annual or seasonal pattern of movements and settlements. Nomadic peoples traditionally travel by animal or canoe or on foot. Today, some nomads travel by motor vehicle. Most nomads live in tents or other portable shelters.
Nomads keep moving for different reasons. Nomadic foragers move in search of game, edible plants, and water. Australian Aborigines, Negritos of Southeast Asia, and San of Africa, for example, traditionally move from camp to camp to hunt and gather wild plants. Some tribes of the Americas followed this way of life. Pastoral nomads make their living raising livestock such as camels, cattle, goats, horses, sheep or yaks; the Gaddi tribe of Himachal Pradesh in India is one such tribe. These nomads travel to find more camels, goats and sheep through the deserts of Arabia and northern Africa, like the Fulani and their cattle travel through the grasslands of Niger in western Africa.
TECHNIQUES USE IN EDUCATING NOMADS AND THE MIGRANT FISHERMEN
Boat schools: During months of intensive fishing, parents move with their children to fishing locations. Children of school age, especially boys, actively participate in fishing. To continue with their education, it is necessary to have boat schools like the bargee schools, used in France, in which children are taught at times appropriate to their rest periods. In this case, teachers must be drawn from among the fishing group, because they belong to the culture of migrant fisher people.
On-Site schools : On-site schools are those schools located in the settlement of the nomads. The curricula and syllabus used in the schools reflect the cultural background of the nomads. In order to encourage regular attendance of the children, a shifting system of class attendance is used. That is, where groups of nomads practice block shifts, in their herding labour, some of the children who are not herding during that period are allowed to attend school for those number of days. When those who are herding take their rest for equal number of days, they are taught. The same arrangement is made for families that practice daily shifts.
Mobile teachers and schools: For total movement nomads, that is, nomadic groups that are constantly on the move without any fixed abode for a long time, mobile teachers and schools are used. These schools are made in such a way that they are easily dismantled and put on animal backs during migration periods. Wherever the nomads stop, the schools are put up and because teachers move with the nomads, the children are taught when the collapsible schools are put up.
Radio/Distance Education Programmes: Radio/distance education programmes may be used to aid all educational systems adopted for nomads and migrant fishermen, at different levels. The programme takes the advantage of the fact that nomadic families own radios and constantly listen to radio programmes.
To make radio programmes successful, nomads, and migrant fishermen, must be properly organised into listening groups. They must be informed about the time the programmes are relayed. In their groups they must discuss the radio programmes and actively participate in producing the programmes in their areas of interest.
The producers are to relay the voices of the various nomadic and migrant fishermen groups as they discuss matters that affect them for the benefit of other nomads. Distance education programmes for nomads and migrant fishermen are to be simple and prepared along the lines of the education syllabus. As soon as the nomads and fishermen – children and adults – acquire the rudiments of reading and writing, they are to be confronted with written distance education programmes.
A mobile teacher must go around from time to time to correct the work done by the target groups.
Apart from the (printed) distance education programme, lessons are to be recorded on tapes for nomads to use.
Schools of alternative intake: Some nomadic parents are unwilling to allow all their children to enrol into schools provided for them at the same time. Therefore one of the ways of encouraging nomads to attend schools is by alternative intake. This is a system by which children are enrolled in alternate years. This method succeeds with parents that do not have many children to herd their animals as well as with parents who do not fully understand the benefit of education.
It is imperative to provide services for nomad communities in the wider context of national development. Whether the channels used are permanent centers, mobile service units, settlement programs or otherwise, improving the quality of life for nomads through education, basic services, range management, co-operatives and other programs should be thoroughly studied, and programs and projects integrated and streamlined into national development efforts.
Meaningful education could only be given to nomads as part of integrated development for this sector of the society. The plight of pastoral nomads was never addressed in its own right. Community development was viewed as an integral part of national development, which was rationalized through regional and sectoral development processes.
The education system is characterized by general low enrollment, male-biased and urban orientation, and has always been under-financed. The nomads’ way of life is not conducive to accommodate the structure of the present day education system.
All efforts to extend basic education for nomadic adults have met with only partial success and were limited in coverage.
Through the teaching of the Koran, Islamic education among nomads has shown some success, mainly because the teaching took place in their environment and was conducted by Shiekhs or Wadaads from the same neighborhood.
Adan, H.M. and Abdi, M.M., (1978), ‘Nomadic Co-operative: nomadic education’. Paper presented at the Nomadic Education Seminar, Mogadishu, Somalia, April 1978.
UNICEF, (1978), Regional Seminar on Basic Education for Nomads, Proceedings of Seminar on Basic Education for Nomads, 1-9 April, 1978, Mogadishu, Somalia
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