Nkera: children. Traditionally Samburu children from the age of 5/6 years old will begin herding, but in order to keep up with the changing world it is necessary for these children to receive an education at least up to a basic standard of literacy. For children in the Ol Malo area to attend the local government school for mandatory education, they must walk for around 1.5 - 2 hours each way. For the 5-10 year olds this is a major exercise, and with lack of food and water it becomes almost impossible.
The Samburu community – from the children to the Elders – also need to be educated in environmental and wildlife issues, so that the projects being implemented by the Trust will not fall apart once under their control; and so that their continued traditional existence alongside the wildlife is ensured.
The Trust aims to:
• build a network of nomadic / mobile schools and semi-permanent eco-nursery schools among the OWRs (approx one school per five dams)
• train community-chosen teachers so the children receive a balanced nursery education, and will be able to read and write by the time they attend primary school at 10 years
• encourage the children to look after (and learn about) the nursery of indigenous fruit and nut-bearing trees situated at each school: these trees will then be planted around the OWRs, to assist with the creation of a micro-environment for the surrounding flora and fauna
• provide alternative education: in the afternoons and / or during the school holidays the desks will be filled with teenage and adult Samburu, learning about health, hygiene and their environment, with specialist educators being brought in for the purpose
• build the schools using eco-friendly materials, which are designed to be taken apart and moved – to fit in with the Samburu nomadic way of life
• provide the required educational material and nourishment.
Our aim is to have each Samburu family living within easy walking distance of an OWR and a nursery school.
To date one Eco-nursery school (nkang e nkera) has been built, to accommodate up to 100 children. It is modelled on a traditional Samburu manyatta (homestead): round, organic, earthy, warm, and the heart of the Samburu culture and family life. The idea was to provide something familiar to the children – and it has worked: when Julia took the children in to see their new class room they were thrilled, dancing round and round the room, touching the walls and floors and feeling totally at home.
We have used eco-friendly materials wherever possible (wooden with a thatch roof), so that the school blends with the environment. It can be moved if necessary, and is designed to be cool in warm / drought months and to provide warmth during the rainy season.
Having built the first Nkang e Nkera Eco-Nursery School it became obvious that the structure would only be suitable in certain areas, as it is too permanent and does not fit in fully with the Samburu tribe’s nomadic lifestyle. So the Trust decided to re-think its original nomadic nursery school idea: in the Longopito area – which is further north and less accessible – Ol Malo had already built what it thought would be temporary nursery schools, using large acacia trees surrounded by natural enclosures, like the ones used around manyattas, creating a perfect nomadic class room. Each school is attached to a traditional mud house, where one of the mothers prepares food for the children attending. More of these Ltepes lo Nkera schools are thus being established. It is through discussion with the Samburu community, understanding their lifestyle, and simple trial and error that the programmes can evolve into ones that the Trust can re-create throughout Samburuland.
The wonderful thing about these nomadic schools is that they really are mobile – when the manyatta moves, the whole school can be packed up into saddlebags on donkeys and camels and moved along with it. The people have chosen the committees and teachers, who will be trained by the Trust. The Trust aims to provide two donkeys per school - to carry the water containers - and three camels per school to provide milk for the children.