Learning On The Move: Partners Seek More Programs To Educate Pastoralists

As pastoralists are constantly on the move, partners implementing an educational project to educate pastoralists and enhance their livelihoods are seeking for more programs to improve the mobile school system designed for pastoralist communities.

Learning On The Move: Partners Seek More Programs To Educate Pastoralists
Participants during the workshop [Photo credit| FAO]

By Ojwe Lumara

JUBA, 19 December 2018 [Gurtong]-The “Enhance knowledge and education for pastoral livelihoods in South Sudan” Project is piloted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) targeting South Sudan’s cattle keepers and their families by inserting trained facilitators into the communities.

The project was first developed in 2012 to reduce the country’s poor record on education and illiteracy which is among the worst in the world. In July this year, UNESCO in a report said at least 2.2 million children in South Sudan are out-of-school.

The situation facing girls at all ages is particularly alarming. About 60% of 7-year-old girls are not in school. The gender gap widens with age: while 10.6% of boys were in secondary school at age 16, this was the case for only 1.3% of 16-year-old girls, according to the report.
The bad education figures, are sparked by years of conflict, displacement and economic collapse continue to deprive children of education, harming the future of the country.

In November last year, the Ministry of General Education and Instructions launched an education curriculum and framework for pastoral communities in South Sudan aimed at providing pastoralists with sustainable learning opportunities as they move.

The curriculum is known as the adapted Pastoralist Livelihoods and Education Field Schools (PLEFS) curriculum and the Pastoralist Education Program Strategy Framework.

The curriculum was developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in partnership with Ministry of General Education and Instruction (MoGEI), Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries (MLF) and Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS).

“It is our long-term vision to see to it that pastoralist communities receive adequate services and infrastructure to improve their livelihoods,” James Janka Duku, Minister of Livestock and Fisheries had said.

The curriculum and program strategy framework is the first of its kind in South Sudan as it integrates literacy and numeracy training and livelihood support, tailored specifically to the nomadic lifestyle of the pastoralists.

By early2018, the mobile school system was operating in 10 cattle camps around the country. Two teachers in a camp educate about 1,600 people-children and adults in the pastoralist community.

The curriculum is tailored to meet the population's’ needs providing situation and practical examples.

The teachers selected from the same community receive three-months of training to help them live in the pastoralist environment.

The joint project has been instrumental in providing pastoralist communities in South Sudan with quality education adapted to their lifestyle, supporting flexibility for learning on the move.
But with the seemingly worst literacy levels, FAO and UNESCO last week hosted a joint workshop on the education of pastoralist communities in South Sudan.

The two-day regional workshop on lessons learned from the European Union-funded project, “Enhance knowledge and education for pastoral livelihoods in South Sudan”.
In his opening remarks, the FAO Representative for South Sudan, Pierre Vauthier, highlighted the need for further development of pastoralist education programs.

“Formal schools are not compatible with seasonal calendars for grazing and water availability, and are therefore not compatible with pastoralist livelihood systems,” Vauthier said.  
While Sardar Umar Alam, UNESCO Country Representative on the importance of cooperation, emphasized the inclusion of South Sudan pastoralist communities in all development programs supported by both international and national actors is key to enhancing their livelihoods.

The joint project focused not only promoting literacy and numeracy skills, but also livelihoods training to enhance the learners’ capacities. FAO had initiated a new model that combines livelihood intervention with an education component - Pastoralist Livelihood and Education Field School (PLEFS) approach. While the traditional pastoralist field school approach provides an excellent entry point and platform for learning to improve knowledge and skills of pastoralists, the pilot project integrates the pastoralist field school with education to enhance the resilience of the these communities.

FAO in partnership with UNESCO is implementing the pilot EU-funded “Enhanced Knowledge and Education for Resilient Pastoral Livelihoods in South Sudan” project in Lakes State of South Sudan. The project employ a multi-dimensional approach to improve livelihood security and empower pastoralist households and communities as well as strengthening institutional capacity to provide sustainable and accountable skills transfer, strategy and education services. The target group includes pastoralist communities in five Counties of Lakes State.

The project creates synergies with FAO’s ongoing Pastoralist Field School (PFS) approach and UNESCO literacy, numeracy and life skills programming in order to develop a model that modifies the Pastoral Field Schools (PFS) to introduce skills, strategies and education essential for resilient pastoral livelihoods.

“By empowering pastoralist communities through education and knowledge, we are helping to strengthen the resilience of some the most vulnerable communities in South Sudan” FAO Project Manager, Ezana Kassa said.

The two-day workshop planned by FAO with UNESCO, and in cooperation with the three line ministries of Education, Agriculture and Livestock, reviewed important developments, lessons, opportunities and challenges and identify strategies to strengthen the provision of livelihood and education for pastoralist communities in South Sudan. These lessons will be crucial as FAO and UNESCO embark on a second phase of the project funded by the European Union, which will continue into 2021.

As transhumance communities, pastoral families in Eastern and Western Lakes States reside in cattle camps and migrate to different areas throughout the year to graze and water their livestock. Children and young people lack access to basic education, while adults receive no support to improve their livelihoods.

FAO partnered with UNESCO and South Sudan’s ministries of education, livestock and agriculture to strengthen the resilience of pastoral communities. Considering the importance of livestock to pastoralists’ lives, livelihoods, well-being and nutrition, an innovative education and livelihoods curriculum was developed for adults, young people and children. Based on the pastoral field school methodology, the approach focuses on strengthening practical skills and knowledge, reinforced by collaborative learning by doing.


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