By Anthony M. Wanjohi:
Education forms the backbone of economy. Failure to invest in education by any civilized nation is the greatest injustice to the citizens. In developed countries, not everyone has access to school. For instance, in Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASAL) in Kenya, access to schools is not guaranteed. The establishment of ‘mobile’ (moving) schools is a temporal solution to the problem of school-access. This paper examines the major factors influencing the establishment of mobile schools in ASAL in Kenya.
Adano (2009) conducted a study to find out the factors influencing the establishment of mobile schools in North Horr in Kenya. Teachers who took part in the study were asked to indicate the factors that they felt influenced the establishment of mobile schools in the area.
Nomadic way of life – Majority of the respondents (93 per cent) indicated that nomadic way of life was the main reason behind the establishment mobile primary schools in North Horr. This is to cater for the educational needs of the children of the pastoralist families which keep on moving to look for pastures and water for their animals.
School distance – An overwhelming majority of the teachers in the study (86 per cent) indicated that school distance influenced the establishment of mobile schools in the area. This could be attributed to the fact that the area is vast and with very few schools. Establishment of mobile schools closer to the community thus brings about convenience and solves the problem of discontinuing from school due to movement while looking for greener pastures.
Attitude towards education and ignorance – The study found out that ignorance of the community about the value of education accelerated the need to establish mobile primary schools in North Horr. This constituted 64 per cent of the views of the teachers who participated in the study. Many pastoralist children are discouraged by their parents from attaining formal education and are made to belief and grow in the culture role of herding their livestock. This ignorance particularly affects the first born and the girls in the pastoralist community. The first born are believed to be the flag bearer, culture and customary future leader to the family unit and thus taking them to school means overstepping such crucial role in the family and the society at large. The girls provide labour at home and are married off early.
Economic related factors – The main economic related factor that led to the establishment of mobile school according to 63 per cent of teachers was the high cost of education in terms of meeting the costs of teaching and learning resources and uniforms. Mobile schools do reduce the cost of education as there is provision of basic educational needs.
The establishment of mobile schools among the pastoralist communities in Kenya is just but a temporal solution to the problem of provision of accessible and affordable education. There is need for all stakeholders in education to find lasting solution to the problem of school-accessibility in Arid and Semi Arid Lands in Kenya. While government and Non-Governmental Organizations have tried to address the problem, there is need for much more if the call for Universal Education for All is to be heeded.
Adano, M.B. (2009). Factors Influencing the Establishment of Mobile Schools in North Horr Division in Kenya. Unpublished Research Project. The Catholic University of Eastern Africa