30 years after, has NCNE delivered on its mandate?

The National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) was established in 1989 via the defunct Decree 41 (now Cap N20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004) to cater for the education needs of the socially excluded, educationally disadvantaged and migrant groups in Nigeria. Thirty years down the line, PAUL OKAH takes a critical look at the commission’s mandate.

Why nomadic commission?

Due to the constant migration of nomads, perceived educational backwardness of many Nigerians, and the need to educate children of school age, the military government of Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, in 1989, established the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) through the promulgation of Decree 41. Over the years, the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, National Policy on Education (NPE), Nomadic Education Act (Cap N20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004) and ministerial directions have provided legal backing to the establishment of the Commission.

The nomadic education programme was aimed at providing functional and relevant education to the nomadic pastoralists and migrant fisher-folks whose population exceeds 9.4 million people and, of recent, migrant farmers whose population is yet to be determined. 

Composition, spread

The nomadic pastoralist’s population is estimated to be more than 6.5 million, while the artisanal migrant fishermen population is estimated to be 2.8 million people. The pastoralists are made up of the Fulbe or Fulani (5.3 million), the Shuwa Arab (1.01 million), the Koyam (32,000), the Badawi (20,000), the Buduma (10,000) and the Dark Buzu (15,000). The Fulbe are found in 31 out of 36 states of the federation, while the other pastoralists are mainly found in the Borno plains and the shores of Lake Chad. 

NPE, nomadic education

The National Policy on Education (NEP) has universalised basic education with the aim of providing equal educational opportunities to all Nigerians irrespective of social class, ethnic or geographical origins, occupation, religion and gender. The beneficiaries of the Nomadic Education Programme (NEP) are identified as the children, youths and adults of nomadic pastoralists, migrant fisher folk and migrant farmers. The nomadic groups are the most educationally disadvantaged in the country, having the lowest literacy rate (as low as 0.02% as at 1989). 

This is associated with their lifestyles and socio-economic engagements involving continuous migration. Thus, the nomadic pastoralists move from the North to the South with their animals in search of pasture and water. The migrant fisher folks are in a continuous movement along the rivers and shores of the Atlantic in search of fishes and other aquatic animals, while the migrant farmers move from place to place in search of more fertile and virgin crop fields.

NEP’s focus

To achieve its objectives, the commission adopted a number of strategies, some of which are; advocacy, sensitisation and mobilisation as well as aggressive enrolment drive, infrastructure development (classrooms construction, including mobile or collapsible classrooms), curriculum adaptation and instructional material development and production, professional capacity development of teachers and staff.

The journey so far

Following the appointment of Malam Adamu Adamu as the minister of education and subsequent appointment of Prof Bashir Haruna Usman as the executive secretary of NCNE, the duo have carried out a number of projects and programmes from May 2015 to May 2019, in line with initiatives contained in the Ministerial Strategic Plan.

Speaking on the achievements and challenges of the Commission in the last four years, the Executive Secretary of NCNE, Prof Bashir Haruna Usman, said the commission has achieved a lot, but that a lot still needs to be done going forward.

He said, “The minister graciously granted and approved the allocation of a permanent office complex of three blocks and 21 housing units to the commission at Km 4 Kaduna-Zaria expressway, as part of the institutional strengthening initiative. This redeemed the commission of the annual financial burden of rent payment incurred since its inception in 1989. The new office complex has already been rehabilitated and fully occupied with intervention fund received from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).  

“Similarly, the minister has given fillip to the construction of two model nomadic education centers with 1,800 assorted furniture supplied to the centers in Jigawa and Katsina states; constructed blocks of three-classrooms in with three VIP toilets in 62 nomadic communities and rehabilitated 36 other nomadic schools across the six-geopolitical zones. 

“In line with this, a total of 188,870 textual materials consisting of curriculum guide, pupils’ texts in English Language, Mathematics, Social Studies, Agricultural Science, Physical and Health Education and Basic Science and Technology and 9,900 copies of Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) support materials were printed and distributed.”

Training teachers

According to Prof Usman, teachers and education personnel have been trained by the commission in line with its objectives, vision and mission, while more nomadic schools have been established.

He said: “As part of efforts towards improving the quality of tuition and learning outcomes, a total of 933 nomadic school teachers have been trained on the use of textual materials.  More so, 300 nomadic youth were trained to acquire requisite survival skills and 150 NCNE members of staff trained on advocacy, mobilisation and sensitisation for the promotion of Nomadic Girl Child Education, which culminated in the formation of 60 Mothers Associations (MAs) and the training of School Based Management Committees (SBMC).

“In the same vein, capacities of 108 field officers were developed on ranching and extension education, while 156 nomadic communities were mapped and clustered in 11 grazing reserves in line with the federal government policy on ranching. 

“In our focus as a Research Institute and drive for quality assurance, the Commission has monitored 1,364 nomadic schools in the North-central and South-west zones; conducted Learning Achievement study in North-central and South-east zones during which 287 schools were tested for standards. Similarly, 1,558 nomadic schools have been enumerated in the Tracer Studies conducted in the North-west, South-east and South-west with 62,684 graduates traced, while efforts are being made to complete the cycle of the study in the remaining three zones.”

Radio for nomads

Also, Prof Usman said the commission has obtained a five-year licence for an AM radio that would get to the nomads to educate and sensitise them and help arrest the current insecurity in Nigeria.

“In confronting the enormous challenges of social mobilisation, the Commission has acquired and fully paid for AM Radio Broadcast License with an operating frequency of 720KHz to broadcast in four languages namely English, Hausa, Pidgin English and Fulfulde, for an initial period of five years. Plans are underway to secure funds to procure and install requisite transmission equipment for the successful take -off of the Radio Station. 

“This shall serve as the vehicle for social mobilisation and education in furtherance of the Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) methodology adopted by the Commission to reach the very hard to reach segment of our target population. The radio when operational will enhance our capacity to address crises between herders and crop farmers with all its attendant consequences to loss of lives, destruction of productive assets, nomadic schools, facilities teaching and learning resources. 

“The radio station will add impetus to the commission’s efforts towards mass education of the target group and entrench peace building, conflict management and resolution with a view to promoting harmonious co-existence between crop farmers and herders in the country,” he said. 


Prof Usman said the commission is facing a lot of challenges, especially bordering on insecurity and funds to carry out its objectives.

He said: “During the period under review, the commission had to contend with a number of challenges relating to poor funding, high number of out-of-school children, insecurity occasioned by incessant clashes between farmers and herders, rural banditry, displacement of nomads, inadequate teachers and poor support from many states and local governments that have remained daunting.

“However, our achievements under the dynamic leadership of the minister, Malam Adamu Adamu, are unparalleled since the establishment of the commission in 1989 and would remain indelible in the annals of the history of the organisation. The commission is poised to maintain the momentum of achievements with continuous support from the Hon. Minister and the Ministry and indeed UBEC as well as other agencies of government and surmount the limiting factors.”

Room for improvement

Despite the numerous challenges and constraints faced by the commission, the educational profile of the nomads has increased from 2% to 10%, largely due to the adopted implementation strategies. From the Nigerian experience of providing access to basic functional education to the nomads, there is no doubt that the right of the Nigerian child to have access to quality education in the second millennium will be achieved, especially as the systematic implementation of NEP, since inception, has recorded some modest achievements. 

There is the urgent need for all stakeholders to partner with the commission in championing the call for government to adopt multiple strategies and approaches, especially using multi-faceted and multi-sectoral initiatives to address the varied needs of nomads that would engender the realisation of the lofty goals and objective of the nomadic education programme.

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