FAO pilots efforts to integrate literacy and livelihood skills building in pastoralist field schools in South Sudan

FAO pilots efforts to integrate literacy and livelihood skills building in pastoralist field schools in South Sudan


With funding from the European Union (EU), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is piloting an alternative model for pastoralist livelihood and education in South Sudan’s Lakes State. Under the “Zonal Effort for Agricultural Transformation – Bahr el-Ghazal Effort for Agricultural Development” project, FAO has been working with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to develop a learning curriculum for adults, youth and children that integrate pastoral field school and pastoral education approaches. Combining literacy and numeracy skills building with training in animal health and production, this pilot curriculum provides a critical opportunity to empower pastoralist households improve their livelihoods and communities in South Sudan.

“It is very important for FAO to lead efforts to improve service delivery and access to social services to pastoral communities since it has been very limited. The traditional educational model per definition excludes pastoral communities due to their seasonal movements and this needs to change,” Serge Tissot, FAO Representative. “This new model will fit better with their lifestyle, providing mobile livelihood and education support and helping to build their general literacy alongside more context-specific livelihood skills.”

FAO and UNESCO achieved an important project milestone in April, when the curriculum was evaluated and officially validated by key stakeholders. Full ownership and understanding of the model on the part of stakeholders is critical to the success and sustainability of this pilot.

Developed in close partnership with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Industries and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Cooperatives and Rural Development, women from cattle camps, for example, will learn the techniques to improve the hygiene of the milk they sell in urban markets, while gaining the numeracy skills needed to count and record the cash they earn, protecting them from being cheated out of their earnings, which was often the case.

During the validation workshop, the acting Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Omot Olok Okony underlined the importance of bringing education to the pastoralist community, enabling them to obtain even greater benefits from their resources, especially their livestock. “Today we are validating this curriculum and through this process we must ensure that it accurately reflects the needs of the people at the grassroots level, particularly the cattle keepers and farmers”, he said.

“At the State Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries, we fully support this initiative of FAO because if you give education to people in cattle camps, you are giving them the power to improve their lives in areas of health, business skills and livestock management,” Matur Alambany the Director–General of the State Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries added.

Through this three-year programme, FAO/UNESCO and partners will continue to implement the pilot pastoralist livelihood and education field school approach by training 32 groups, comprising of three different age groups, who will be the first to use the new curriculum to improve their livelihoods in the cattle camps.