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An investigation into the history of nomadic education policies in Nigeria, 1986-2009.

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In Nigeria, nomadic people have been marginalised educationally. However, the exclusion of the nomads from participating in formal education was due to their migrational lifestyle and the irrelevant curriculum which was at variance with nomads’ lifestyle. For the nomads to have access to formal education like their sedentary population counterparts, the federal government of Nigeria introduced the nomadic education programme in 1986. The focus of this study, therefore, was to explore the history of nomadic education policies in Nigeria from its inception in 1986 to 2009. In light of the above, the objectives of this study were: to establish why the nomadic education programme was conceived in 1986 by the Nigerian government, to examine how the nomadic education policies unfolded, and to establish the reason why nomadic education policies in Nigeria unfolded the way they did between 1986 and 2009. The reason for the researcher’s choice of 2009 as the cut-off year was because the federal government of Nigeria has not enacted any other nomadic education policy since that year. Based on the nature of the research problem under investigation, this study is embedded in the qualitative approach. In line with this approach, an interpretive paradigm was adopted in order to make sense of, and to have an in-depth understanding of the various nomadic education policies either promulgated or enacted for the nomads in Nigeria during the research period. Since this study bordered on the history of nomadic education policies, two sources of data gathering methods were adopted, namely: oral interviews from the participants who were direct witnesses of the events (promulgation/enactment of the nomadic education policies) and documentary evidence from the archive. The data was subsequently subjected to narrative analysis which also infused secondary data. From the data analyses, the following key findings were reached. Firstly, it was established that the conceptualisation of the nomadic education programme was in fulfilment of the 1979 Nigerian constitution which stipulated that the government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels and that government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy among Nigerians. Secondly, various international conventions and treaties in which Nigeria was a signatory significantly influenced the conceptualisation of the nomadic education programme. The activities of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN), National Policy on Education and Universal Primary Education were established to have immense positive impact on the formation of nomadic education in Nigeria. Thirdly, from the findings it was indicated that the military administration of General Ibrahim Babangida and General Sani Abacha promulgated various Decrees on nomadic education policies for the implementation of nomadic education for political reasons. Some of the Decrees and nomadic education policies promulgated and which revolutionalised the nomadic education programme were: Decree 28 of 1987, Decree 31 of 1988, Decree 41 of 1989, the Migrant Fishermen Education policy of 1990, the Migrant Farmers Education Policy of 1992 and the Nomadic Education Boarding Policy of 1996. With the voluntary handover of political power from the military regime to the civilian government on the 29th May 1999, some landmark nomadic education policies were also enacted by the democratic government of President Olusegun Obasanjo. For instance, the Universal Basic Education Policy of 2004, the Indigenous Language Policy of 2004, the Nomadic Girl-child Education Policy of 2006 and the Mobile Education Policy of 2007 were the policies enacted by his government. In a similar vein, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s administration that succeeded President Obasanjo also enacted two important nomadic education policies during the short lifespan of his administration. From the findings, the two policies enacted were the Mobile Education Policy of 2007 and the Nomadic Distance Education Policy of 2009, the exit date of this study. In another vein, it was established that the federal government’s intervention on the nomadic education programme, from all indications, was not borne out of its benevolence or humanitarian disposition. Rather, the finding showed that it was meant to transform the nomads from being an itinerant group of people to becoming a sedentary population. Aside from this finding, it was also discovered that the covert reason for the governments’ involvement in nomadic education was because of the Nigerian President’s political ambitions. Based on these findings, the study recommends the depoliticisation of education policies aimed at the nomads. This would ensure that the policies are crafted based on the need as opposed to political expediency as was the case during the research period.


Doctor of Philosophy in Education. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Edgewood 2015.


Nomads -- Education -- Nigeria., Nomads -- Nigeria -- History., Education and state -- Nigeria., Theses -- Education., Nomadic education.