Education for Pastoralist Community Children in Ethiopia: Where the Opportunity Cost Defines It All

  • Ambissa Kenea


The major purpose of this study is to assess the status of children's schooling among a pastoralist community and sort out demand and supply related factors associated with schooling of children. By so doing, it intends to develop understanding of the situation of pastoralist children's schooling in Ethiopia. Mixed research design with data collected from multiple sources (including community leaders, school personnel and school children) using multiple methods (i.e. interviews, focus group discussion, observation and document review) has been used. Data was analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. The results show that the pastoralists see children's schooling as significant loss of labor from the herding economy. On the other hand, in recent years, the Government is encouraging the pastoralists to send their children to school due to its commitment to the 'Sustainable Development Goals.' This compelled the community to adapt some erroneous coping strategies including the rotational enrolment; turn-based attendance; selection of the 'less able' child for schooling; and division of roles between herding and schooling. None of these solutions are commensurate with the best interest of the child. This article concludes, the opportunity cost of schooling explains the access to education and quality of children's learning in the case community. Children's right to education does not seem to be part of the discourse. There are no promising strategies used to improve the community's demand for education of their children. The article concludes with a few empirical suggestions on how to improve children's access to education in pastoral communities.

Keywords: Education policy; Opportunity cost of schooling; Pastoralism; Schooling

Author Biography

Ambissa Kenea

Addis Ababa University, College of Education and Behavioral Studies, Department of Curriculum and Instruction