Academic journal article Nomadic Peoples

Schooling and the Encouragement of Farming Amongst Pastoralists in Tanzania

Academic journal article Nomadic Peoples

Schooling and the Encouragement of Farming Amongst Pastoralists in Tanzania

Article excerpt


This article uses qualitative and quantitative data to document the nature of educational practices in a pastoralist area in Tanzania, and to provide evidence that the schooling process, amongst other influences, has encouraged and facilitated the uptake and expansion of farming by these pastoralists. The article argues that the schooling process has influenced pastoralists' livelihood choices, and thus the nature and viability of pastoralism.

Key words: pastoralism, farming, education, Tanzania, Maasai


Dominant understandings of pastoralist ecology, as well as of the pastoralist way of life, have greatly influenced the form taken by 'development' interventions in pastoralist areas. Policy makers tend to be urban elites with little understanding of, or tolerance for, pastoralist lifestyles, while governments and wider societies frequently employ discourses of pastoralist development which are not supportive of extensive pastoralism or pastoralist ways of life (Hodgson 2001). Consequently, development efforts have often had negative effects on pastoralism and pastoralists' livelihoods (Baxter and Hogg 1990; Fratkin 1991). Education provision for pastoralists, as well as the actual practices of schooling in pastoralist areas, have also commonly reflected and been instrumental to these stances on pastoralist development (Kratli 2000; Dyer 2001). As a result, involvement in formal education has posed practical as well as ideological challenges for these communities. In particular, education provision in pastoralist areas has often promoted the uptake of arable agriculture (referred to throughout this paper as 'farming') (Sarone 1986; Kipury 1989; Kratli 2000). It has been argued that this emphasis on farming may have been one factor that has discouraged pastoralists from sending their children to school (Rigby 1985; Sarone 1986). Policies which have aimed to sedentarize pastoralists and encourage them to adopt farming have been founded on the belief that mobile pastoralism is an inefficient and environmentally destructive subsistence strategy (Kratli 2000).

Discourses surrounding the environment and development, and pastoralist development in particular, have been subjected to critique and deconstruction (Anderson 1999; Hodgson 1999; Fairhead 2000; Hodgson 2001). Profound changes in thinking about pastoral development have taken place over the last two decades, although these changes have been more influential in the academic, donor and NGO arenas than within African governments or on popular opinion in these countries (for example see the review of Tanzanian policies affecting pastoralists by Mattee and Shem 2006). At the centre of these changes has been the 'New Range Ecology' (Behnke and Scoones 1993), which has sought to demonstrate the essential environmental rationality of mobile pastoralism. This scientific trend has gone arm-in-arm with close attention to the socioeconomic dimensions of pastoralism (Sandford 1983; Toulmin 1984; Swift 1988). Many of the policies most associated with previous understandings of pastoralist ecology have been questioned, including sedentarisation and the encouragement of farming, and there is increasing concern for the political and economic marginalisation of pastoralists. Pastoralists and those who champion pastoralist issues in Tanzania, and in other countries in East Africa, are increasingly demanding that government policies support pastoralism as a potentially sustainable livelihood (for example see Hakikazi 2005).

There has been a recent increase in the attention education for pastoralists has received in national government (Bugeke 1997; GOFRN 1999; Obura 2002; GOK 2003; Lyimo 2003), NGO and donor (IEC 2002; Ismail 2002; Mfum-Mensah 2003; Carr-Hill et al. 2005; Oxfam 2005), and academic spheres (Kratli 2000, 2001; Dyer 2001, 2006; Little et al. 2001). This increased attention is related to the serious challenge which pastoralists' low rates of education pose for those who wish to achieve national and international targets of 'Education for All' by 2015 (Oxfam 2005), as well as to these changing ideas about pastoralism. …

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