Kenya's Maasai Tribe

Education Department

Mark Barnett

M.S. 118

Flag of Kenya

Kenya's Maasai Tribe is one of the most well-known tribes in all of Africa. This page will take a closer look at the educational systems used within the tribe. Do you think that the Maasai use classrooms and chalkboards to learn? Read more and you will find out.

Education In the Maasai Tribe

Pcture of tribe in traditional war dress
The Maasai Tribe of is one of the most widely recognizable tribes in Africa. The tribe is one of the few tribes that has continued to practice its traditional way of life, even while the surrounding communities have become more modernized. People find the Maasai’s way of life an excellent case study on the culture of indigenous African tribes.
Picture of warriors

Memphis ranger help build school in Kenya
Along with many other parts of the Maasai lifestyle, education has changed little over many centuries of existence. Both women and men continue to be responsible for certain activities within the tribe. Young men and women are educated by their elders. There is not a formalized educational system in the Maasai tribe. Recently there have been efforts to bring formalized education to the tribe. Private and public donors from outside of Kenya fund the efforts.

Floorplan of proposed school
Kids at school watching

kids at school writing
One example of a more modernized school exists at the Merrueshi Primary School located approximately 290 miles southeast of Nairobi. The school was started in 1985 with 13 students. By 2004 the school had grown to 170 students, of which 60 percent were girls. The students range in age from 4 to 13 years. The school is run by a committee of 12 men and women appointed by the community. The committee tries to manage the school in a way that integrates traditional Maasai culture with Western educational principles. The school ethical system places emphasis on students becoming role models for future generations of the tribe. With this goal in mind, there is a great deal of time spent on preserving the tribal values.
Kids working at the Merrueshi School

Masai school
One effort is currently being funded by Ledama Olekina. Ledama is a Kenyan born Maasai member who studies at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. He is walking from Boston to Chicago to raise money to build a college for his tribe.
Ledama Olekina walks from Boston to Chicago for a Masai College

traditional family at their hut
The roles of men and women of the tribe are clearly defined and are taught informally to the children of the tribe throughout their youth. Women of the tribes are taught to build and maintain the living huts for their families. These huts are made from a mixture of cow dung and hay.
Masai Hut

Men in the tribe are responsible for family survival. This includes the hunting, gathering, and herding responsibilities of the tribe. When the young men of the tribe turn 15 they have a coming of age ceremony. The group is led into the woods where they are taught the practices of hunting and war which have been handed down from generation to generation.

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