Pastoralist education in Kenya: Continuity in exclusion in arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL)

Ishmael I Munene, Sara Ruto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Kenya has seen tremendous progress in the field of education since its independence in 1963. No efforts were spared in ensuring access to educational opportunities which were expanded and actualized. It is estimated, for instance, that the number of primary schools in the country doubled from 5,000 in 1965 to around 10,000 by 1980. Undoubtedly, government policy initiatives have been at the center of these impressive institutional surge and enrollment trends. Incremental policies of easing tuition fees at the primary school level spearheaded by the country's heads of state have provided impetus for previously excluded groups to participate in basic education. The first of these incremental policy edicts was enunciated in 1974 when the first President, Jomo Kenyatta, announced the elimination of school fees for elementary school grades 1-4. The colonial authorities viewed the ASAL regions as being of marginal economic value and therefore neglected educational development in the region. The need for a two-pronged approach to enhancing education for the nomadic pastoralists regions sprang up. For pastoralists to enjoy the full benefits of a modern formal education, an education policy climate that is sensitive to nomadic culture is inevitable. Adoption of a uniform educational strategy, methodology or curriculum similar to the one provided to sedentary groups with a contrasting lifestyle was essential. An initiative for the construction of boarding schools for nomadic pastoralists was undertaken. The establishment of the Ministry of Northern Development (MND) in 2008 also provided a critical entry point in addressing the marginalization of the pastoral community in the country.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-158
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Third World Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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