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Nigeria's Experiment with A National Programme for Nomadic Education

Research reports

This paper examines the problem of educating nomadic pastoralists in Nigeria, which has become central and controversial during the last two years. As in much of Africa, Nigerian pastoralists have been suffering from drought, desertification, reduction of pastureland, disruption of cattle routes, disease, and conflict with settled agriculturists. But unlike in many countries where development programmes employing the expertise of social and natural scientists have emerged to confront those problems, nearly all affairs of the nomadic peoples in Nigeria have become the concern of `educationists'. This paper is, therefore, about the role that school and state have assumed in tackling the problems of Nigeria's pastoral nomads. It attempts to provide an explanation for why the national nomadic programme at present lies in the hands of educationalists. Using Gongola State's (see map) Nomadic Education Programme as a case in point, I shall argue that the politicisation of the project has played a decisive role in the shape the movement has assumed, and has so far been one of many factors precluding its implementation. The movement initiated by a few on humanitarian grounds now uses the same rationale to legitimise what many see as simply an effort to capitalise on the development funds that have become available.

Catherine VerEecke