EVALUATE THE NOMADIC EDUCATION IN NIGERIA
Nomadic education is seen any member of a group of people who have no fixed home and move according to the seasons from place to place in search of food, water, and grazing land. It could be a person with no fixed residence who roams about; a wanderer.
Education occupies a center stage in Nigeria’s social and economic development. The importance of education has been adequately documented in the literature. Education serves as the spring board for social and economic change. “All who have mediated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empire depends on the education of the youth.” (Wennergreen, Antholt, and Whitaker 1984, 34). The importance of education in Nigeria is evident from the large budgetary allocation in the national Development Plans. The government of Nigeria believes that learning is the primary means of upgrading the socioeconomic condition of the rural population. This population, particularly the Fulani, are difficult to educate. With less than ten percent of the men and two percent of the women Fulani formally literate and numerate, the number of lettered men and women in western-style education among the Fulani falls below the national average.
Apart from the literacy gulf between the Fulani and the non-Fulani, there is a disparity in the attainment of different types of education among the Fulani. In a sample of 1,998 pastoral Fulani surveyed in this study, about half of them have Koranic education. Forty percent have no education, and only seven percent have either formal or both mainstream and Koranic education
To remove the chronic illiteracy among the mobile population of Nigeria, the government introduces the nomadic education program. The program has three broad goals: to raise the living standard of the rural community; to harness the potentials of the Fulani; and to bridge the literacy gap between the Fulani and rest of the society.
The nomadic education program started officially in November 1986, after the Yola National Workshop on Nomadic Education. The workshop resolved that: “…the nomads needed a fair deal through the provision of education and other social amenities to reciprocate their contribution to national building…” The National Commission for Nomadic Education (N.C.N.E.) began functioning in January 1990 with 206 schools, 1,500 students, and 499 teachers. Ninety-seven of the schools had permanent buildings. The rest of the schools operated in temporary structures or under the trees. Some schools had furniture, others used mats. The schools taught a modified curricula in English, arithmetic, social studies, and primary science, developed by the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto. To adapt to the work rhythms, nomadic schools run morning and afternoon shifts, and children rotate between herding and schooling.
By January 1991, the N.C.N.E had spent 72,930 naira to produce textbooks in the four curricula areas. The first prototype of a collapsible, mobile classroom, manufactured by the Federal Science Equipment Manufacturing Center, Enugu, was tested on April 23, 1991.
APPROACHES TO NOMADIC EDUCATION IN NIGERIA
The nomadic education program has a multifaceted schooling arrangement to suit the diverse transhumant habits of the Fulani. Different agencies are involved in the educational process. These agencies include the Ministry of Education, Schools Management Board, the National Commission for Nomadic Education, the Agency for Mass Literacy, and the Scholarship Board. They work together to offer a mobile school system where the schools and the teachers move with the Fulani children.
Nomadic education in Nigeria is affected by defective policy, inadequate finance, faulty school placement, incessant migration of students, unreliable and obsolete data, and cultural and religious taboos. While some of these problems are solved by policy and infrastructure interventions, most of the problem are complex and difficult to solve. The persistence of these problems is causing the roaming Fulani to remain educationally backward.
A top-to-bottom planning, where the Fulani are the recipients rather than the planners of their education, dominates the nomadic education policies. For instance, during the first national workshop on nomadic education, only a few Fulani have been invited to attend. Ironically, it is at this workshop that far-reaching decisions that will affect the lives of the Fulani are taken.
Because of the non-participation of the Fulani in decision-making, a simplistic approach to educational planning is adopted. Advice on nomadic education are sometimes emotional, tactless, and ill-intentioned. Planners fail to take account of the government’s inability to provide specialized services. For example, just to impress the public, the government has rushed into policy pronouncements for mobile school system without considering the difficulties in getting teachers, monitoring students, and developing suitable curricula. The nomadic education curricula are unsuitable, if not an impediment, to learning. For example, the use of English for instruction at the elementary school level is inappropriate. Learning in the English language is difficult for the Fulani children who have yet to master their own language. The problem is that due to cost the government cannot develop Fulfulde language to replace English as a medium of instruction in schools. Furthermore, the curricular according to the Miyetti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (M.A.C.B.A.N.) focus on teaching irrelevant subjects like cockroach breeding, how to play basketball, and how to climb mountings, things that do not interest the Fulani or that look down upon their cultures and lifestyles
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.
The uncertainties of the movement of the Fulani makes educational planning and student monitoring difficult. Unscheduled out-migration due to environmental failures or conflicts between the farmers and the pastoral Fulani disrupts school operations and classroom composition. In one school visited, about half of the pupils who have attended the school in the previous season have moved. Many Fulani ascribe erratic attendance and low enrolment in school to habitual movement. Seventy-one percent of the Fulani interviewed in this research affirm that shifting settlements prevent the children from improving their literacy. As a result of the movement, the teachers face the extra task of adjusting their teaching to fit the dynamics of the transient population.