Education Of Migrant Fishermen
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The Migrant Fisher people are those who live in the riverine parts of Nigeria stretching from Bayelsa (which is over ¾ riverine); Rivers, Delta, Edo, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Cross Rivers, Ondo, Ogun, Lagos, Abia and some other states in the federation e.g. Niger, Borno, Adamawa and foreign countries like Ghana, Cameroon, Togo etc. They migrate from their autonomous communities in search of fish as dictated by:
- The type of fish required or in the season
- The movement of the tide
- The seasons of the year
The migrant fishermen engage in creek and deep sea fishing. They can be off for two or more days sleeping and eating on their boat. If they are unlucky, the whole family can perish in the sea due to the harsh waves. At times some members may perish while only one or two will come home alive.
Definition of migrant fishermen
Migrant fishermen refer to men, women, children and dependants who accompany their families to fishing ports and migrate to other conducive places as guaranteed by the season. The basic economic activities of the migrant fishermen are fishing. Their fishing activities are carried on in marine or inland water ways or both. By the very nature of their work roles, adults and children migrate from one fishing village to another during various, fishing periods and in response to changing tides. Although, fishing camps/villages dot the shores of the islands and creeks, what seems to be permanent in the villages/camps are the chiefs of the camps/villages and the village/camp huts.
Members of the fishing families — old and young, male and female migrate from one fishing village to another. Thus in carrying out fishing activities, men, women and children participate while adult men and boys engage actively in fishing processing, preservation and marketing of fish. Because fishing villages/camps are located in remote and inaccessible areas such social services as transportation, health services, markets, water, good shelter, recreational and educational facilities are not easily available. Even when they are available, they are grossly inadequate, dilapidated and not functional. As migrant fishing groups, they have a distinct culture which is rooted in their environment and occupational background. Although, some of them are Christians and Moslems, they are bound by their peculiar culture.
According to Tawari (2002:2), “a migrant fisherman is one who leaves his natural community and moves from one habitation to another in fulfillment of his occupation. He moves in search of fish as dictated by the type of fish required, the movement of the tide and season of the year.”
THE AIMS OF MIGRANT FISHERMEN EDUCATION
Thus, the migrant fishermen consider their social, political and economical practices as complete ways of life. They do not experience unemployment amongst them. Deviant behaviours that tend to destroy their societies are ‘ limited in scope as a result of their strict compliance with their moral code of conduct. Therefore, the main aim of these two educational programmes is:
1) To educate the teeming number of nomads and fishermen towards ‘ improving their quality of living, understanding of national goals which will, therefore, go a long way to making them contribute maximally to national development.
2) The two educational Programmes conceived by the federal government as mediating programmes for the educationally marginalized communities.
3) Integrating the children of fishermen into the formal educational system through the provision of suitable facilities.
4) Improving the occupational competences of migrant fishermen by giving their children an education suitable to their environment.
5) Eradicating illiteracy by attacking it at source to ensure a hundred percent enrolment at the primary level within the shortest possible time.
6) And raising the awareness of migrant fishermen and their families towards accepting the formal education of their children as a parental responsibility, since the project is aimed at attracting about 200,000 children to school in Rivers State alone.
NEED FOR EDUCATING MIGRANT FISHERMEN
However, it is an undisputed fact that fishing business plays a significant role in the economy of many industrialised nations in the world. Thus, such nations include Japan, Portugal, Norway, United States of America, Sweden and Finland (Gbamanja 1997).
1) Therefore, the education of migrant fishermen must start with the acquisition of rudiment of reading, writing and computation in the short-term and proceed to the use of literacy skills to acquire the scientific knowledge of the biology and ecology of our indigenous fish.
2) The management of fish farm which entails breeding, harvesting and marketing o fish products and the use of banking credits and services
3) The adoption of modern technologies in the development of fish farms, fish processing and preservation, –
4) Acquisition of knowledge of the prevention and control of hazards on fish ecology.
5) Having knowledge of their legal rights and privileges as Nigerian citizens.
6) And finally, possessing knowledge of how to maintain a healthy family. (Aivepiku, 1989).
THE IMPORTANCE OF MIGRANT FISHER EDUCATION
These cannot be over-emphasied as they carry on their work roles on water and catchmfish as their main economic mainstay. Their main method of aquatic exploitation is traditional substance method known by some experts as wild fishery exploitation (Noorsen, 1995). Although, large quantities of fish caught with the use of traditional methods find their way to rural and urban markets throughout the country, such quantities of fish cannot be said to meet the necessary demand for animal protein especially with the decline in beef production.
The major problems confronting the education of migrant fisher people are:
- Inadequate qualified teachers
- Lack of commercial boats plying the creeks. There are some non-fishing communities where commercial boat ply just once a week. The day you are unlucky to miss that boat, it will mean waiting till the next week or you paddle that long distance in a dropout canoe to your destination. You can therefore imagine what the migrant fishermen who live in the creeks suffer.
- Inadequate funds to carry out the day-to-day running of the schools and to pay temporary teachers where teachers are in short supply. Monitoring of the schools on a regular basis is difficult due to inadequate funds
- Inadequate instructional materials
- Lack of vocational institutions and training that would assist the migrants to improve on their fishing crafts, gears and processing/preservation techniques. These migrant fishermen request to be taught in their schools.
The idea of providing equal educational opportunities for all Nigerian children was embodied in the Nigerian constitution of 1979 which stated that “Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal add adequate educational opportunities. However, having considered the situation of the migrant fishermen in Nigeria, the importance of their work roles, educational and training needs, inadequate provision of educational facilities and programs, each state running this programme actually has its own design and focus based on the environmental circumstances. But the philosophy is the same, and the normal basic school subjects are also the same.
Aivepiku, I. R. (1989) 6—3—3—4 System of Education in Nigeria. NPS Educational Publishers LIMITED, 1989.
Gbamanja (1997) Poverty Assessment of Fishing Communities of Lagos State, Nigeria, University of Ibadan, Nigeria (Unpublished Ph. D. Thesis)
Tawari, Felicia (2002) Dissemination of Research Findings on Nomadic Education in Nigeria (The Migrant Fishermen Education Experience): Issues and Directions; at the International Conference organised by International Extension College (IEC) Cambridge And Sponsored by The Department For International Development (DFID) at Rock View Hotel Abuja-Nigeria 16th – 19th January 2002.
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