Schooling, Governance and ‘Progress’ for the Rabaris of Kutch, India

  • Caroline Dyer University of Leeds
Keywords: Nomads, Mobility, Education For All, Education, Schooling, Governance


Providing education for nomadic populations is a pressing challenge for nation states that have signed up to the international commitment to Education For All, and hope to achieve the Millennium Development Goal for primary education. Education has long been associated with modernization, development and 'progress: and India made a constitutional pledge to universalise elementary education in 1950. With these policy commitments in view, this paper presents a case study of how the transhumant Rabaris of Kutch in Western India construct 'progress' in relation to schooling and community governance. It identifies development policies that are unfriendly to transhumant pastoralists as a key catalyst for the demand for formal schooling among Rabaris. Community leaders are also using schooling as an instrument in efforts to 'modernize' their constituency. But in all of this, education in its broadest sense has been commuted to schooling, and further to a particular model of mainstream, sedentary schooling. The lack of state action in considering alternatives ensures that this model becomes the 'default' education option, and so schooling provided by the state contributes to a delegitimization of the mobile way of life, and pits pastoralism and education as mutually incompatible.


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