Learning on the Go – Mobile Education in Marsabit County

Kenya has made significant strides in improving its education system in recent years. Since primary education was made free and compulsory in 2003, primary school enrolment rates have increased across most of the country, however, progress has been slower in some northern regions such as Marsabit County.

Children from remote pastoralist areas of Marsabit County have limited access to education. Challenges contributing to this include a lack of schooling facilities, high levels of food insecurity and sporadic localized conflict. In addition, girls are far less likely to be enrolled than boys owing to early marriages and other cultural practices.

The overall score for Marsabit County in the Kenya Certificate of Primary and Secondary Education Examination is considerably lower than the national average, and there is a huge gap in the provision of early childhood care and development for children aged three to five years.

In January 2014, Adeso, with support from the Partnership to Strengthen innovation and Practice in Secondary Education (PSIPSE) introduced the Mobile Non-Formal Education Project (MNFE) in Marsabit County to help ensure that the vulnerable young people are empowered through education and vocational training. By doing this, children are given the foundation they need to secure a better future for themselves and their families.

Pastoralist communities frequently migrate in search of water and pasture for their livestock. This makes it difficult for their children to access schools. Mobile education helps to mitigate frequent drop-out cases and consequently improves the retention rate among the school going children.

In Kargi area of Marsabit County, we met Ms. Herikeno Bayo, a student at the Kargi Non Formal Education (NFE) Center. She cannot hide her joy as she tells us about her newly acquired literacy skills, thanks to the Mobile non-formal education project.

“In the past I could not read or write as I depended on my neighbor to write for me and even to remind me of clinic dates, but not anymore. Thanks to this school, I can now read and write on my own” says Ms Bayo.

She says most of her peers in that locality who were married at an early age have immensely benefitted from the NFE centers.

Away from class, Ms Bayo who is also a mother of three, runs a shop in Kargi market

“I have learnt how to do simple mathematics which assists me in my business as I am able to know how much profit I have made and better monitor my stock,” she says. “I really enjoy learning Kiswahili as it also helps me to communicate with other people when doing my business”.

Ms. Bayo describes how she was married off at an early age, forcing her to relocate to her matrimonial home where there are no schooling facilities. The flexible learning hours at the Kargi NFE center enables her to attend class, look after her children and still run her business.

The story of Ms. Bayo resonates with many other girls and boys of her age who have enrolled in these NFE Centers. There are 387 students currently enrolled in the program who now have access to educational opportunities that are being provided in the six mobile Non-Formal Education Centers (NFECs) which Adeso has established across Marsabit County.