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ABOUT EDUCATING NOMAD CHILDREN
TURTLEWILL’S PROGRAM FOR EDUCATING TRIBAL PEOPLES
Nomads are among the most marginalized populations in any country due to their remoteness, mobility and high rate of illiteracy. Education gives individuals the tools to understand and keep up with the world around them, as well as to articulate and defend their own rights as citizens. Educated nomads are the ones most likely to work towards the ongoing preservation of their cultures, which can be understood as a most important patrimony of their mother country.
Since the 2000 Millennium Development Goals, the governments of Niger, Mali and Ethiopia have made efforts to educate nomadic children, building primary schools in the remote regions. Unfortunately, due to the vastness of these regions, schools may be 10-40 miles apart, making it almost impossible for many children to attend.
In addition, due to sorely limited resources, these governments usually only provide the school building, the teachers, and occasionally the salaries.
Nomadic children cannot attend primary school unless they can live and eat at school. The distance between the schools and their constantly moving nomadic homes is very often too great for children to return home daily. Most nomad parents today recognize the importance of their children attending school so that they will have the same opportunities as others in the world around them. However, they will not leave their children at a school during their migrations unless they know their children can be fed, housed and supervised adequately.
The current “boarding” system often means little more than curling up on a mat on the floor of the dusty school room, or sleeping on the ground in the compound of a nearby family, without even a blanket during winter. Parents of girls are understandably more hesitant to permit this arrangement.
Adequate room and board must be provided with safe and secure sleeping conditions for both girls and boys. This includes separate dormitory buildings with supervisor as well as meals, uniforms, blankets, sleeping mats and medicines. It also includes latrines, which are a crucial element in keeping young girls in school. A school well is also necessary to insure a clean water source.
Lack of quality education compounds the difficulty for nomad children. Teachers, who are government employees, often go unpaid for months. In Niger, during the school year 2006/07 teachers were often on strike. Quality education is further compromised because one teacher is often required to teach two or more grades, in the same classroom. Schools are sorely lacking in basic school materials and books. Under these remarkably poor conditions, those who suffer the most are the children.
has been working in Niger, Mali and Ethiopia aiding primary schools in
the remote regions since 1998. As of 2007 our support includes 27 schools
with over 1,200 students. Our actions include:
and Higher Education Scholarship Programs
Currently, we have 12 students in Niger in the 7th and 8th grades on this program.
In Ethiopia, TurtleWill began its Educational Scholarships programs in 1997 and is currently funding 23 students for higher education at technical schools, college and university.
Education: literacy and technical training
There are also talented young adults who, despite having had no formal education, have the capacity to learn a trade or a skill. Technical schools are only available in two major towns, requiring considerable funds to pay the cost of tuition plus room and board. Nomadic families can rarely afford this.
Adult Education opportunities benefit both the individual and the community. TurtleWill support adult literacy classes as well as technical training scholarships for adults with potential to benefit themselves, their families and the community. These include training as midwives, nurses and gardeners.
Residence for Girls for Grades 11-13 in Agadez, Niger
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