Many Samburu, especially womenER, receive little formal education.
There are many reasons for this: first, while primary school is free,
families still incur costs due to fees for books and uniforms. Further,
pastoralism forces some young children to stay home to take care of the
family's livestock. As for secondary education, children must often
travel to larger towns where secondary schools are available. The costs
of secondary education are typically beyond the reach of most families,
since in addition to tuition, school supplies, uniforms, and books, a
student's boarding must also be paid. Families must also be willing to
forgo their child's contribution to chores, livestock care, and the
In each consecutive level of schooling, the female to male ratio
decreases. For example, at the Uaso Secondary School in Archer's Post, of
171 students there are only 36 female students. Such high drop out rates
among women, especially at the higher levels, can be attributed to such
factors as high fees, early marriage, pregnancy, the need to care for
family members, and lack of boarding facilities for female secondary
school students. For example, the Uaso Secondary School provides boarding
for its male students, while its female students must find lodging
elsewhere and travel to and from school each day.
Early marriage in particular hinders a young woman's pursuit of
education. Families often look forward to the dowry that is received upon
their daughter's marriage; girls are usually married at a young age and
have children soon afterwards. The responsibilities associated with
marriage and pregnancy force many young women to discontinue their
education earlier than they might wish. Among Umoja's 48 members, there
is not one woman who has completed a secondary education.
Since Samburu women often lack higher education, their ability to
exercise and demand their political rights, obtain well-paying formal
jobs, apply for loans, and pursue other important activities, is
undermined. Thus, there are few alternative occupations for Samburu women
outside pastoralism, craftwork, and small businesses; each of these
occupations typically yields very little revenue. Umoja seeks to address
illiteracy by offering free adult education classes to their members each
afternoon, by starting education early with their own children at the
preschool they founded and operate, and by helping cover the secondary
and university school fees for the children of Umoja's members.
The school was established to cater for children from the village and its environs. This was in order to:
- Reduce the distance covered by these small children to access education.
- For the children to receive education under the watchful eyes of their mothers
- Ensure the children are attended to when their mothers are engaged with the visitors
The school is registered with the government and the initiative is supported by well wishers either directly for supplies or through Lewa Wildlife conservancy education program for food. No school fees are charged.