Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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Shauna LaTOSKY, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (Halle/Saale)
Jana ZEHLE, University of Leipzig
Olisarali Olibui Tongolu, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

In our last two ICES papers on education in agro-pastoral communities in South Omo (see LaTosky and Zehle 2016, forthc.), we acknowledged the innovative pathways that the Mun (Mursi) are taking. We laid focus on curriculum development, e.g., through mother-tongue learning and the application of local knowledge. While many Mun, sociolinguists and education professionals remain hopeful that the Makki mother-tongue learning model will continue and can be replicated elsewhere in Mun, questions are being raised as to how Mun teachers will continue to be trained locally and students supported beyond Munland. It also has yet to be communicated which model of education will be adopted in the three Mun settlement sites still under construction. In this paper, we look at the future of education within the context of accelerating change in South Omo by continuing to reflect on the current needs and practical uses of school education in agro-pastoralist communities. That is, why and for what purpose do the Mun wish to educate their children in modern schools and what kind of innovations do the Mun foresee? Here we take seriously one innovative idea, first proposed by a pioneer in Mun education, Olisarali Olibui, to incorporate modern technology by way of educational apps in the local language. We explore the potential of a “Mun app” as a training tool for teachers, and for adapting the national curriculum to fit the local context using global tools. Through a focused survey of the emerging field of learning and language apps for training and teaching in pastoralist communities, we look at the feasibility of such apps in the South Omo context. Furthermore, we reflect the open challenges that would hinder them from being accepted and, finally, the potential of educational apps for creating an interface between government education objectives and the education objectives of pastoralists like the Mun.