Case Study 1: Nomadic pastoralists’ inclusion in the global Education For All movement enabled by re-designing of education services.

Submitting Institution

University of Leeds

Unit of Assessment

Politics and International Studies

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration, Sociology

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Summary of the impact

The global pledge of achieving Education For All by 2015 is compromised by providers' reliance on education services that are designed for sedentary users and exclude nomadic pastoralists. Dr Caroline Dyer (University of Leeds; Senior Lecturer in Development Practice, 2004-2011; Reader in Education in Development, 2011- present) has re-visioned approaches to education for nomadic groups through her analysis of how public policy perpetuates pastoralists' educational marginalisation and design of research-based models of service provision that can deliver pastoralists' right to education inclusion without compromising their mobile livelihoods. Her research led to changes in national policy strategy and re-designed service delivery in Kenya in 2010, shaped policy debate in Afghanistan from 2012, and has supported community and NGO advocacy in India since 2008.

Underpinning research

Nomadic pastoralists comprise about 200 million people worldwide and their exclusion from the global commitment to Education For All (EFA) is a growing concern among policy communities. Dyer's research combines social exclusion and sustainable livelihoods perspectives to critique extensive reliance on formal, fixed-place schooling as the dominant model of service delivery. This model undermines the EFA promise by imposing unjust and unachievable terms of education inclusion on pastoralist families, whose livelihood depends on mobility and situated learning. Dyer shows that EFA has perpetuated rather than challenged pastoralists' education marginalisation by expanding inappropriate state services, sporadically supplemented by compensatory, low status alternatives. She has researched pastoralists' unmet demand for services and identified exclusionary aspects of current provision. She has also generated alternative models of service provision that are sufficiently flexible in time and space to offer pastoralists opportunities for education inclusion that do not compromise their mobile livelihoods.

The link between pastoralist livelihoods and education was initially researched in Gujarat, Western India, where Dyer and Choksi's ESRC-funded work trialled a model of mobile literacy provision for pastoralists in the 1990s [1, 3]. Nuffield-funded research in 2009 investigated Gujarat state's policy narratives of modernity and Education For All, and how pastoralists were affected by post-2001 earthquake reconstruction. It found intensified livelihood stress had stimulated sedentarisation and an escalating demand for education, despite the risk of inclusion in the market economy on very unequal terms [2]. It also showed that pastoralists who remain mobile continue to be denied provision that assures their right to education despite India's 2009 Right To Education Act [2].

Dyer's critique of pastoralists' education marginalisation led to an invitation to engage with policy debates in Kenya. In 2009, she was invited to join the Education For Nomads (EfN) team (Dyer, Sue Cavanna, Ced Hesse, Saverio Krätli, Jeremy Swift) as the education specialist. EfN worked out of the International Institute of Environment and Drylands (IIED) in London and brought together the expertise of Krätli, Hesse and Swift, as pastoralist/dryland specialists in livelihood systems, with Cavanna's experience in non-profit organisation support for pastoralists in Kenya. Dyer brought education expertise and a practical and theoretical understanding of pastoralist education. Dyer worked with Krätli in identifying research-led strategic policy options for Kenya, providing a literature review and critique of current provision [4] to suggest how the `mainstream' approach can be expanded, particularly by adoption of a radio-based model that offers education inclusion without compromising pastoralist mobility.

Evidence of nomadic groups' educational exclusion is scant. Dyer's edited collection of international case studies [1] is a key resource, cited in the 2010 Unesco EFA Global Monitoring Report `Reaching the Marginalised'. Two keynote addresses have informed debate among policy / practitioner communities: i) in 2008 to a South Asia regional workshop convened by the Commonwealth Secretariat; ii) in 2012 in Afghanistan to a national workshop on policy options for education inclusion of over one million Afghan pastoralists. The importance of Dyer's critique of EFA is further underlined by the British Association for International and Comparative Education's invitation to give the plenary keynote to its 2012 conference on `Education, Mobility and Migration' [5]; and her editorship of a 2012 Compare Special Issue `Developing Education, Challenging Marginalisation', featuring research by a group of practitioners and academics who formed to critique the 2010 EFA Global Monitoring Report [2].

References to the research

1. Dyer, C. (ed.) (2006), The Education of Nomadic Peoples: current issues, future prospects. Oxford: Berghahn Books (peer reviewed proposal). In this volume: Dyer, C. And A. Choksi `With God's grace and with education, we will find a way: literacy, education and the Rabaris of Kutch, India' pp. 159-174. (Available to panel on request).

2. Dyer, C. (2012), Formal education for pastoralist children: social inclusion, or adverse incorporation? In Dyer, C. and S. Aikman (eds.) Developing Education, Challenging Marginalisation. Compare, Special Issue vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 259 - 282 (peer reviewed; Compare's 2012 impact factor 0.458; downloadable from:


3. Dyer, C. (2008), `Literacies and Discourses of Development among the Rabaris of Kutch, India'. Journal of Development Studies, vol. 44, no. 6, pp. 863 - 879 (peer reviewed; JID's 2012 Impact Factor 0.872; downloadable from:


4. Krätli, S. and C. Dyer. (2009), Education for Mobile Pastoralists. A strategic literature review. Education for Nomads Programme, Occasional Paper no. 1. London: International Institute of Drylands and Environment (internal quality monitored prior to publication; downloadable from

5. Dyer, C. (2013), "Does mobility have to mean being hard to reach? Mobile pastoralists and education's `terms of inclusion'". Compare, vol. 44, no. 6 (peer reviewed; Compare's 2012 impact factor 0.458;


Details of the impact

Dyer's global perspective and local analyses of exclusionary education practices and research-led models of inclusive alternatives have informed public policy-making, influenced international and national policy debates and underpinned civil society advocacy for policy change.

Kenya: The commissioned EfN report [5] was presented in January 2010 to a workshop attended by 90 representatives from Kenyan national and local government, international donor agencies and pastoralist organisations. The report and the workshop provided the impetus necessary for the publication of a pending Kenyan government policy on nomad education in 2010, and they continue to frame policy in this area [A]. Participants at the 2010 workshop discussed and endorsed the EfN recommendations that arose from the Krätli and Dyer review [4]; Swift subsequently wrote up the strategy that had been outlined to deliver the policy objectives - a fully- costed programme of formal education via radio which was projected to reach over 300,000 excluded pastoralist children [B].

The Minister of State for the Development of Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands (MDNKOAL) wrote:

"[The University of Leeds'] contribution to the Education for Nomads (EfN) initiative had a significant impact on policy approaches in Kenya and on expanding the options for service delivery. Until recently, there had been insufficient recognition that mobile pastoralists require different educational models that do not depend on a system of fixed schools. Your research positioned the need for these new approaches within the broader context of global best practice. Both the quality of the documentation, and your presence at a national workshop on nomadic education in January 2010, has helped to reinforce new thinking within the Ministry of Education" [A].

In 2011, the EfN-initiated work passed for implementation to Kenyan ownership. The significance of the EfN work is underlined by its presentation by a seniormost Kenyan education official, the Director of Human Capital, MDNKOAL, at a 2011 international conference on The Future of Pastoralism in Africa, and by the MDNKOAL's affirmation in 2012 that, while budgetary constraints had hindered rolling out the strategy: `the research had benefits in its own right - for example, in demonstrating to the Ministry of Education that these ideas have the backing of serious educationalists and therefore can't be lightly dismissed, and in highlighting alternatives to the standard boarding school/mobile school option' [C]. The Minister of State for MDNKOAL said he expected the strategy of the new (2012) National Council for Nomadic Education to continue to draw on the EfN research [A].

Afghanistan: In July 2012, Dyer gave the keynote address at a policy conference where 70 delegates worked on developing Afghanistan's national strategy for pastoralists' education. The convening agency, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA), reported that Dyer's analysis of models for pastoralists' education inclusion and policy / implementation challenges from Kenya and India `made a very deep impact on the thinking of the participants' [D]. SCA remarks upon Dyer's `very outstanding contribution in enhancing the understanding of SCA and its partners, about the nomads of Afghanistan, their educational needs and how various issues connected with them could be addressed' [D]. The impact of the conference and direction Dyer gave to participants is reflected in post-conference (2012-13) preparation of a draft policy and national guidelines for nomadic education; establishment in 2013 of nomadic education as a key strategic priority in SCA's 2014-18 work plan; and the SCA education advisor's visiting fellowship at Leeds (3 months in 2013) [E].

India: India's pastoralists have considerably lower policy visibility than those in Kenya and Afghanistan. Dyer's 1993-1996 action research (with Archana Choksi, ESRC funded) on models of service provision in Gujarat delivered literacy skills to 39 migrating and 25 semi-sedentary pastoralists of the Rabari caste [1]. This work and subsequent research on viable models for provision [1, 4, 5, 6] and on the state of existing local provision [2, 3] have played a significant role in efforts to improve education for pastoralists in Gujarat. The president of the Kutchi Rabari and Bharwad Committee and principal of the LD Rabari residential school, write:

"Over some 15 years, Dr Dyer has provided us with research evidence of how community members understand the role of education in their lives [...] that would otherwise not be available to us. [...] Dr Dyer's analysis of inadequate state services continues to lend support, credibility and encouragement to our claims for official attention to these matters, and for state action on ensuring community members' right to education" [E].

Dyer's research was appended to community petitions to the government of Gujurat in 2001 and 2006 calling for recognition of the need for appropriate provision [E] and informed the country- specific plan of action arising from a Commonwealth Secretariat workshop on Flexible Education for Nomadic Populations she facilitated in 2008 [G].

Dyer's research also shaped changes to provision for pastoralists in Gujarat. The committee president quoted above, for instance, said it not only changed their view of the importance of education in fighting for pastoralist rights but "challenged us to expand the enrolment" of girls, resulting in new hostel arrangements allowing girls to proceed through secondary education [E]. Dyer's attention to pastoralists' marginalisation in social service provision and implications for social inclusion informed the 2011 India Human Development Report, a major review of development in India conducted by the national Government's Planning Commission. Dyer was one of nine academic experts invited to comment on drafts [F].

Global policy impact: Collaborators in Kenya, India and Afghanistan refer to the value of the international best practice that Dyer's research makes available [A, D, E]. This has been the foundation for broader impact [G]. Output 4 is a frequently accessed resource, providing the authoritative review and analysis of research, policy and outcomes in pastoralist education. The Education Adviser to the Social Transformation Programmes Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat said: "Dyer's research in Kenya has greatly impacted the work on nomadic education in Africa as Kenya and Nigeria have been able to share their experiences as good practice for other African countries to replicate. The Commonwealth Secretariat has brought together experts from African countries with nomadic populations, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria and Uganda to prepare Guidelines for provision of Quality Basic Education to Nomadic Populations in Africa." [G] Dyer's 2008 edited Commonwealth Secretariat publication formed one of the bases of Secretariat work on nomadic pastoralists presented to the Commonwealth Ministers of Education Conference in 2012. In 2010, the UN's IFAD convened the first Global Gathering for Women Pastoralists, attended by representatives of 31 countries, and the women's strong claim for appropriate, accessible education provision, a key theme of Dyer's research, was captured in an account Dyer contributed for the 2011 document IFAD developed for inter-agency policy advocacy [H].

Sources to corroborate the impact

A. Government of Kenya Ministry of Development for of Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands (MDNKOAL). The MDNKOAL Minister corroborates the change to national policy and service re-design resulting from impact of the commissioned literature review / stakeholder workshop.

B. MDNKOAL/EfN's Getting to the Hardest to Reach: a strategy to provide education to nomadic communities in Kenya through distance learning is the output of the 2010 workshop, written up by EfN team member Swift and published as an official public policy document. It can be accessed at

C. Private email from the Advisor to the Kenyan Minister for Education dated 20.9.2012. The Advisor can be contacted to verify its accuracy, the impact of the research on policy change, and to confirm the conference presentation made by the seniormost Kenyan education official.

D. Swedish Council for Afghanistan (SCA). SCA's Director of Programmes corroborates Dyer's impact on shaping SCA's strategic engagement with policy communities working on nomads' education inclusion in post-conflict Afghanistan. The official can be contacted to corroborate this and Dyer's impact on policy formulation.

E. Kutchi Rabari and Bharwad Committee, Gujarat, India. The Committee President corroborates that Dyer's research has evidenced the extent of pastoralists' education exclusion in Gujarat, raised community leaders' awareness of the importance of girls' education in advocacy work within the community, and positively influenced direct action on enrolling girls in community-managed provision.

F. India: Human Development Report 2011 Towards Social Inclusion - and acknowledgement of Dyer's input (p. xix) - can be accessed at

G. Commonwealth Secretariat, London. The Adviser, Education, Social Transformation Programmes Division corroborates Dyer's impact on Commonwealth policy guidelines on quality nomadic education for Africa, and country-specific action plans for South Asia.

H. Women and Pastoralism - and Dyer's input (pp. 9-10) - can be accessed at