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  • Dr. Wyclife Ong'eta Mose

Education as a Strategy to Counter Cattle Rustling among the Pastoral communities-Blog

Pastoral communities in Kenya include Pokot, Turkana, Marakwet, Samburu, Borana, Rendile, and so on. This is the family of Karamoja that includes Jie, Karimojong, Sabiny, Matheniko of Uganda, Tobosa, Didinka of South Sudan, Merile of Ethiopia. The communities lives in arid and semi-arid land and their life rotates around the cow as the main source of livelihood. This region has been confronted with violent conflict and underdevelopment for decades. However, with the support of regional governments, myriad peace actors, donor community and international bodies, this region are today pacified. Karamoja, the sleeping giant is now on its feet as the guns are increasingly remaining silent. In my recent study to find out whether violent conflict is related with the blatant underdevelopment experienced among the pastoral communities, I found that in lower Pokot, illiteracy rate was extremely high. Despite the fact that primary and secondary education was subsidized by the government, it was still not affordable because of the monumental poverty and low attachment to education among the pastoralists. The majority of children who dropped out of school have joined the warrior sector.

The study found that a large majority of young girls were forcefully dragged out of school to get married. This was attributed by inadequate animals to enhance household economic status. By marrying girls earlier the family received scores of animals to sustain the family livelihood. It was found that most parents were hesitant to sell their animals as a way to generate school fees; instead they opted to maintain their stock considering education had negligible value to them. However, the study found that parents are continually getting an enlightenment regarding the infinite benefits of schooling to a child, the community, and a country at large.

In Alale, Nasar specifically parents were scared to take their children to school following several cases of the senseless killings of children by Turkana warriors as one elder reported: “We fear taking children to school because of insecurity; again, the schools are far-off from here.” It emerged that most of the deathly corridors were found along boarders, this areas conspicuously lacked essential government institutions such as schools, police posts, and health facilities. Implying that illiteracy was at a notch higher compared to other areas considering young energetic men concentrated their efforts in heinous acts.

The research establishes that the newly established schools in Kanyerus such as Ngengech, Kanyerus, Kabatagire and Sitat were deeply underequipped. The few existing classes lacked seats, some classes were seen run under trees and professional teaching forces were severely inadequate. Whereas striving to find out what should be workable solutions to bring the arrangement of insecurity and violence to an end, the majority of the respondents suggested that schooling would be the best strategy to disarm the minds of the warriors and the community at large.

To bring an end to violent conflict experienced among the pastoral communities in Kenya, I am strongly recommending that the government of Kenya and the county governments should formulate and implement policies to address the problems that a great many boys and girls face in accessing and completing education. For example, the policies should provide for mobile schooling and school feeding programmes for a pastoralist child, provide affirmative action in education where a pastoralist child should get free education from primary to the university.

The school curriculum should mainstream peace education since it is crucial in cultivating the culture of peace, combating poverty, cultural diversity and environmental awareness, and social transformation. These are likely to be the surest strategy to bring to an end the practice of cattle rustling and insecurity.

In addition, President Kenyatta’s big four agendas, especially food security and universal health coverage, if well implemented are likely to boost schooling of a pastoral child as these are some of the challenges confronting people in this region. The region lacks essential health facilities and personnel resulting to high maternal and infant mortality. As inadequate food forced school going children out of school and young men to engage in violent raids as a strategy to secure families out of hunger. Let me conclude by challenging leaders at all levels of governments, what country will you bequeath your children and the future generations? Will you be remembered as a leader who brought shared prosperity to people? Will you be remembered as a leader who confronted the monster of corruption to spur growth of prosperity? Will you be remembered as a leader who prioritized meritocracy to mediocrity? Will you be remembered as a leader who transformed Kenya to a world class nation? I have no doubt that Kenya has adequate resources to achieve vision 2030 and the sustainable development goals including education and training of every child. Considering, any country or institution or body is as good as its human resource.

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