President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has described the huge number of out-of-school children as a major challenge facing Nigeria.
Lawan who stated this in his concluding remarks on a motion on “The Need to Integrate Almajiri Education into Modern System of Education in Nigeria” called on Nigerians to take steps to end the menace.
“We all know that the out-of-school-children are at the moment a big problem to us as a country. They constitute not only social problems, but also security problems to some extent. Therefore, it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to ensure that they are enrolled in primary and secondary schools,” Lawan said.
Citing findings by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), sponsor of the motion, Adamu Aliero, said: “We have more than 14 million out-of-school children, most of them being Almajiri’s roaming the streets of our major cities in Nigeria begging for alms and food.”
He said former President Goodluck Jonathan embarked on a laudable project by building Almajiri integrated model schools where these children are enrolled and given both Islamic and a Western education.
He lamented that “some of these structures are either laying fallow or put into uses other than what they were originally intended for and some of the facilities in the Almajiri Model Schools are already decaying as they have never been put to use.”
Aliero recalled that two weeks ago, Governor of Kano State, Abdullah Ganduje, announced the ban on street begging and launched the Basic Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA), a policy which penalises parents or guardians of children caught begging on the streets.
He added that other states such as Nasarawa and Niger have since followed suit with the introduction of the Child Rights Protection Executive Order by the former and the setting up of a committee to fine-tune modalities for the policy’s implementation.
Senator Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi, said the quest to address the problem of out-of-school children was one of the legislative agenda of the senate.
The lawmaker while x-raying the problems associated with out-of-school children said: “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. It is an abuse of the rights of these children, and of course, many of these children, when you have any engagement with them do not even know why they are brought to where you see them.
“These parents just take them and dump them on some of these Mallams, who in turn are also exploiting the children. I think the bottomline is that we must acknowledge that no matter how well other children are educated, no matter how well we give education to our children, these children that are abandoned in the name of Almajiri system will come out to be the key determinants of the success and progress of our own children.”
Senate in a three-point resolution called on the Federal Government to upgrade the existing Almajiri model schools and build more to increase the number of school enrollment, thereby, reducing the number of out-of-school children on the streets.
Similarly, of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila has urged members to attend tomorrow’s plenary dedicated to seeking solutions to high rate of out of school children in the country.
Gbajabiamila promised to publish vote and attendance of members for the assessment of their constituents in national dailies.
He said the electronic voting system would be used to determine what each member voted for and those who were absent.
Gbajabiamila said that the 9th Assembly promised accountability to constituents and that voting on major issues would be made public for constituents.
According to a survey conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), it shows that there are more than 13.2 million out of school children in Nigeria.
The survey showed that most of the children are in northern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, where Boko Haram insecurity has disrupted academic activities.