[DEHAI] An emphasis on education for migrant communities in Eritrea/Unicef

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From: michael seium (michael.seium@gmail.com)
Date: Tue Apr 28 2009 - 09:54:05 EDT

An emphasis on education for migrant communities in Eritrea

*By Miriam Mareso*

GELEB, Eritrea, 17 April 2009 – Over the past three years, the Tigré
community in Geleb, on the Eritrean coast, has seen improved access to
education for its children, as well as increase safe water and use of
latrines. The availability of such services has greatly improved the quality
of life for members of this nomadic community, who live part of the year in
semi-desert areas.

“I’m the oldest one among all these people, and I have seen so many things
happen in our community and in Eritrea. But what we have now, we have never
seen before – the clean water, the school… This gives us hope,” says one of
the elders in the community.

Education, in particular, has brought a sense of fulfillment to the
community members. The elders say their children are learning new concepts
and skills, which they hope will provide a future different from their own
lives, which are largely determined by the daily struggle for survival and
seasonal migrations in search of water.

“I am sitting here, watching our children go to school. And I am doing my
best to help them learn what is important, to save them from ignorance. When
I hear our children speak English and other languages, this is what makes me
feel fulfilled,” says the elder.

New opportunities for nomadic children

Nomadic populations in Eritrea move twice a year between the lowlands and
the highlands. These migrations are incompatible with the formal school
calendar. Generally, classes are already in session when the time comes for
nomadic children to resettle. As a consequence, they end up being excluded
from the formal system.
[image: UNICEF Image]© UNICEF/2009/MaresoAn elder speaks of his gratitude
for the projects that have changed lives in Geleb.

Non-formal Complementary Elementary Education (CEE), with its flexible
calendar, is more suitable to their migration patterns. As a result, CEE is
having a positive impact on access to education for nomadic boys and
girls by providing them with new opportunities for learning.

The establishment of education committees composed of community elders,
mothers and fathers has also contributed to the increased value attributed
to the education of girls amongst pastoralists – and to the appreciation of
its long-term benefits for the community as a whole.

“UNICEF and the government request that we send more girls to school,” said
the elder. “This is a piece of welcome advice. The community is a
combination of boys and girls. Unless the girls are developed, the community
cannot develop. The sun gives light to the outside world in the daytime. The
moon and the stars shine in the sky at night. The light inside our homes is
given by our women and our girls. Education can make that light even

The way forward

So far, education for pastoralists has mainly been provided through CEE in
Eritrea. But the country is now moving towards developing a provision that
is tailored around the needs and lifestyles of this group.

In December 2008, the first National Consultation Conference on Nomadic
Education was held in Eritrea. The event, led by the Eritrean Ministry of
Education and supported by UNICEF, saw the participation of a representative
from the Kenyan Ministry of Education and of elders and representatives from
several Eritrean nomadic communities.

The event sealed UNICEF collaboration with the Ministry of Education towards
the conceptualization of a nationwide policy for Nomadic Education in
Eritrea and renewed the country’s commitment to provide basic social
services to this minority group.

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