This article addresses an increasingly important but under-researched and controversial topic in anthropology, the role of formal education in pastoral societies. Only minimal research on the benefits and costs of education for pastoralists has been conducted, in part because, until recently, formal education has not been widespread among herding communities. It argues that education should figure prominently in discussions of contemporary pastoral risk management strategies since engagement in labor markets currently is a critical component of pastoral livelihoods, and this is facilitated by education. Through a case study of the Maasairelated Il Chamus people of Baringo District, Kenya, a group that has experienced rapid gains in education over the past 20 years, the paper assesses two related questions: (1) does formal education actually reduce risks for pastoralists; and (2) what social and economic conditions facilitate positive roles for herder education? By building on data from two different time periods, 1980-1981 and 2000-2004, the authors document local trends in education achievement, contributions of education to local livelihoods, and the effects of a tightening labor market and budget reductions on opportunities for education. The article concludes with a discussion of the policy implications of the study's findings and points to areas that require further research.

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