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Senate moves for upgrade of Jonathan’s almajiri model schools

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Efforts by the ex-President Goodluck Jonathan administration to lift the North educationally got a boost yesterday, as the Senate considered the menace of street begging in that part of the country.

It, therefore, resolved to prevail on the Federal government to upgrade the existing Almajiri model schools as well as build more to increase enrolment of uneducated kids in the geo-political zone.

Consequently, the upper chamber of the National Assembly mandated its Committee on Basic and Secondary Education to come up with ways and means of collaborating with the affected state governments on getting the 14 million children that are currently out of school enrolled in universal basic and secondary education progammes.

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The red chamber also called on the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to initiate a programme on almajiri and the negative effects on children in the society.

Senator Muhammadu Adamu Aliero (Kebbi Central), while moving a motion on the “need to integrate almajiri education into the modern system of education in Nigeria as a matter of urgent national importance”, appreciated the Bayelsa-born ex-leader for embarking on the laudable projects.

He said: “The past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan embarked on this laudable project by building boarding Almajiri integrated model schools in which these children are enrolled and given both Islamic and western education.”

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The lawmaker observed that the project was launched in Sokoto State when the Mallams (teachers) were employed to teach Qur’anic and other Islamic subjects in the schools.

He regretted that today, some of the structures are either lying fallow or being used for something else.

“Some of the facilities in Almajiri model schools are already decaying, as they have never been put to use,” Aliero said.

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The erstwhile governor of Kebbi State noted that over the years the Federal Government had made commendable efforts to reduce the menace of street begging by introducing the Universal Primary Education (UPE) scheme in 1976.

He said the project was re-introduced as Universal Basic Education (UBE) in September 1999.

Aliero recalled that two weeks ago, Governor Abdullah Umar Ganduje announced the ban on street begging in Kano State and launched the Basic Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA).

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“The new policy prohibits street begging and will penalise the parents or guardians of children caught begging on the streets,” he observed.

He pointed out that because of the bold step, Nasarawa and Niger states followed suit, inaugurating the Child Rights Protection Executive Order and the latter setting up a committee to fine-tune the modalities for the policy implementation.

The senator said despite the government’s efforts at integrating the almajiri model into a modern education system, the implementation of the policy had not achieved the desired result.

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“The Almajiri happens to be one of the persons covered by the UBE Act 2004 for the purpose of provision of basic education,” he stated.

In his contribution, Senator Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi (APC: Niger North) said the quest to address the problem of out-of-school children was one of the legislative agenda of the ninth Senate.”

X-raying the problems associated with out-of-school children, Abdullahi asserted: “Within the context of the North, most of the out-of-school children are the Almajiris, and I think that the fact that some states in the north are finally rising up to the occasion shows that this issue requires our attention and is long overdue.”

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