From Desmond Mgboh, Kano
That there is a problem of educational backwardness in Northern Nigeria is a statement of affirmation. The number of out of school children in the region is worrisome, same for the girl child exclusion education. All these have affected the region negatively.
Experts estimate that the problem of educational backwardness has a strong link to some of the manifest challenges of the region such as terrorism. It has also been suggested that manpower development and the associated benefits could be better served with an additional impulse in the education.
Several scholars and concerned leaders in the region have of recent suggested measures to quicken the pace of education in the region. They have held that these steps would help the nation in general and the region in particular.
One of such irresistible voices is that of the Emir of Kano, Malam Muhamad Sanusi. Himself an erudite scholar, he has been crying to the rooftop on the need to use the numerous mosques as a point of learning.
Another voice that has joined the wagon is the renowned elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai. In is view: “Mosques should be used to further education. Also, the period of prayers as specific and therefore from one period to the other, there is an interval of time and in some cases, hours in between.
“I think it is a good idea that we should tackle our problems of backwardness in terms of Western education by using every available opportunity to bridge the gap between our people and our compatriots in the South.
“The idea of using the mosque for educational pursuit is a good idea in my opinion. And this is not the first time. The origin of Al-haza University is that it was a mosque, and the leaders thought that after prayers, they could be used to teach people. From teaching religion, it became school for teaching general knowledge about Islam and so forth and so forth.
“So, it is not something new. If you go through Google it, you find that Al-haza University has been there for hundreds of years. And millions of people acquired education through that Mosque. And therefore, if we can adopt it, it would be very good.
“Already, I know that in a number of Mosques, there are lessons that are being conducted in a number of issues, ranging from religion, history, on Islam, Tao heed and other areas of Islamic learning and Islamic education.
“My own take is that we should look at the areas, where we have real problems, where we need an intervention. And from my observation, we produce a lot of primary school leavers- and I do not have the statistics. But I do not think that we cater for up to 30 per cent of this category of pupils leaving primary to secondary. This is the area, where intervention is required.
“If we can use our mosques to educate the children, who had completed their primary education and heading to secondary education; and from secondary to tertiary school because a lot of children graduate from secondary, without having sufficient places for them to go and acquire Tertiary education. And I think this another area, where an intervention like this would be very helpful to the entire country, but it could be particularly helpful for the people of Northern Nigeria.
“An arrangement can be made, whereby the state government and local government authorities can wade in. we can have volunteer teachers, who teach in the primary and secondary schools or even in Universities during the day.
“They can offer classes, either from Zuhur to Asri prayers or from Asri to when people would go to bed. It is being done but it can be well organized, so that people can be educated. And between 10, 15 and 20 years, the result would be huge success and it would be helpful to Nigerians.
“The more you educate people, the more you help them, In fact, all of you are products of education because without education, you wouldn’t be where you are today. I wouldn’t be where I am if I didn’t work hard to access education.
“This is where I would like to emphasize. The state government can shoulder the responsibility of providing funds for the salary of teachers (teaching staff). The Local Government on the other hand can take responsibility for buying teaching materials, comprising textbooks and what have you.
“Arrangements can be made, whereby each would contribute his own quota to the overall interest of the community. And apart from government, I believe that the traditional Institutions, who are receiving substantial amount of money from the public coffers need to come in here.
“At the time of the late General Sani Abacha, he gave directive that from the revenue allocation, accruing to local governments in the entire country, five percent should be dedicated to the traditional Institutions, comprising, Emirate Council or whatever they are called. And they are being paid. At least, I know that in Kano State, they pay and we have 44 local government areas.
“I do not know but at least you can make your research to establish how much they are getting from Federal Revenue Allocation. It is a huge amount of money. I think the least they get every month runs into millions of naira. So, that five percent that is dedicated to Traditional Councils, Emirate Council, and what have you are not subject to Appropriation by Federal or State legislature.
“They are deducted from source and given to the Traditional Institutions. And they are using it for their needs. They are not subject of appropriation by the appropriate authority (the legislature). And therefore they are not subject to audit or controlled by the Accountant-General of the State.
“I think it would be helpful, if State House of Assembly through the collaboration of the Government of State can call for legislation to be made that monies allocated to Traditional Councils (Emirate Council) can be regulated.
“Although, it is their money but we make a law that a percentage should be set aside for the promotion of education in Northern Nigeria. It would be helpful to Nigerian unit it would help the economic development of the country and would also solve the problem of lapses (imbalance) in the overall social aspect of our life. This is what I want to say and I appeal that state governments should take total responsibility in this regard.
“Also, the Media can help in mobilising public opinion to lend their support to this very important initiative.”