Good morning Guest. It's 22 May 2013, 4:32 am!
Education, academics, study aids and scholarships, qualifications, schools, universities, colleges and related discussions in Nigeria, Africa and Worldwide
In the past few months, I have been following with keen interest the new and novel approach towards a solution not only for the crisis of education in the North of Nigeria but of the Almajiri problem, a problem peculiar to Northern Nigeria.
First, let us try to understand the meaning of the word Almajiri, plural Almajirai in its true Hausa/Arabic meaning. Its normal meaning is student or students. In Nigeria, the word is now understood to mean child beggars.
Why do we have Almajirai at all in Northern Nigeria? Under Colonial British rule, the North lagged behind the rest of the country in education and much else, because the British thought they were respecting the religious sensitivities of the Moslem North.
Nevertheless, they permitted some and severely restrained the development of Western Education even in the mostly non Moslem areas of the Region.
Thus at the eve of independence, there was only one full fledged Secondary School in the whole of Northern Nigeria. It was not until 1949 that a Second secondary school was established by government in Keffi and Missionary Secondary Schools began to appear. There was only one full Teacher Training College in Katsina and a one year Teacher Training School for Elementary School Teachers in Toro, Bauchi. Each one of the twelve Northern Provinces had a half
The first native Northern Nigerian Government upgraded the twelve Provincial Secondary Schools of the region to the status of full secondary schools in1954, created more teacher training colleges and other training institutions. These efforts were in the character of Crash Programmes in Educational Development.
Thus by 1963, the North created its own University which was named Ahmadu Bello University. These were modest steps in the right direction, but they came very late in the day and which is today manifesting major political and social crisis for the Nigerian nation.
The North witnessed remarkable progress and development in the period up to the January 15th,1966 Coup de tat when its entire then leadership but its potential leadership and leadership were wiped out and its direction lost. Perhaps it was also at this point that we lost the will to live, to thrive and to make progress.
Perhaps our mistake was to totally neglect education, any kind of education. We are now hiding behind religion to deprive ourselves and our children the vital tool that frees all human beings and which the religion of Islam itself enjoins us to seek.
Except in our utterances we, in fact, least about the preaching of the religion of Peace and peaceful co existence.
That may be why, when the Gowon Government decided in 1973 to introduce Universal Primary Education to provide education for every Nigerian child born after 1970 i.e the year when the Civil war ended and Nigeria was reunited, it was the North, led by Sokoto, Katsina, Kano, Zazzau, Bauchi that mounted stiffest opposition to the scheme to the point of its derailment.
It was in those Provinces that the programme failed the most . And it is the era that other states, almost entirely in the South that the real leap in educational development was boosted; in a situation where they were by their own efforts that could well place the North on the way to catch up with the South and save the Nigerian nation from the crisis which we now face of Boko Haram and other insurgencies.
It is not that the North had not been warned by its own people of the dangers of an illiterate, poor , ignorant and lazy people. Sa’ad Zungur, Aminu Kano and Abubakar Imam all warned until they were hoarse that we must embark on a war of emancipation by fighting the evils of illiteracy, poverty and laziness.
In the Hausa language this was known as the war of three evils: Yaki Da Jahilchi, Yaki Lalachi and Yaki Lalaci. Today, the three evils are on us. Early in the year, the National Bureau of Statistics declared the Northern territory the poorest of the poor of Nigeria. Several journals have published figures depicting Northern Nigeria as having one of the lowest educational enrolment in the world.
Mallam Aminu Kano, in particular made this a clarion call the main thrust of all his political campaign. It may well be that this is why he was so easily accepted and respected all over the North.
He openly accused the northern political leadership, especially the Emirs and Chiefs of deliberately keeping the Northern peasant illiterate and ignorant so that they could continue to oppress and exploit them.
Some then thought that this was going too far. We failed to heed these warnings. Today, could we not say the same thing of our present rulers and their armies of Oligarchs? The Boko Harams and others of their ilk are all graduates of this school of neglect
These figures of low perform and poor performance are not disputed by those who rule the North.
The results of the Senior School Certificates and University enrolments; all show declining levels of performance. In actual fact the figures do not show seriousness of the situation. Nor do they address the grave danger they pose for this nation
Since the return of Democratic rule in 1999, there has been established the Universal Basic Education Scheme to replace the defunct Universal Primary Education of the Gowon Era. The new scheme provides that all children, male and female, should all have a basic minimum education of nine years.
The implication of this policy is that the financial provision has been made in the Federal and State Budgets. This scheme has been in operation for more than ten years. So, why in the name of God are ten million children – figures uttered by the President himself, still remain out of school and in the streets begging?
It is a well known fact that billions are released every year by the Federal Government for the purpose of ensuring that All Our Children between the ages of six and fifteen are in School. If truly all the moneys are being released to the States, why is it not applied for the education the Almajirai like all other normal Nigerian Children?
The truth is that in the North is its own worst enemy. We don’t have to look beyond our noses to learn what is befalling us today.
We have a population of about twenty million Nomads tending almost all the national herds of cattle, sheep and goats around the North and, now mostly all over the country with no facilities for education, health or other social services. Their children have little or mostly no access to any kind of education.
In 1972, one of the Northern States came with a proposal for special schools for Nomadic children; they named it Schools on Wheels. They meant by that that special giant trucks built as classrooms will be deployed to follow the Nomads from place to place on their daily tracks.
An entire retinue of Nomadic families with their children and cattle in tow; with the teachers and drivers moving following slowly along all day long in search of grass and water until sun set when set camp; pitching classrooms for the tired teachers to teach and the equally exhausted children.
I could not imagine it working and, as then Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry, after consultations with the professional teachers advised that it would not work. The Government then shelved the idea. Some years the idea was revived and implemented; It was still born. A few Nomadic Schools were built.
But can any tell us what practical results have been achieved in educating the Nomadic children. As at today they remain largely out of school, becoming increasingly lawless. Among them the Almajirai
The Federal Ministry of Education of that time opposed all special schools, on the ground that All Nigerian Children should be educated together in normal school environments and not in segmented and isolated special schools for identified enclaves for the military, the Police and other services.
Now lets us bear it in mind that there is no difference between the Almajiri begging in the streets of Kano and the children of the next door neighbour whose parents have chosen to send their children to normal conventional schools.
So why do we have to now create special schools, which are more modern, better equipped for those children whose parents have chosen not to send them to school like other normal children? They say they have sent them to the Mallaman Allo Schools to learn the teachings of the Quaran and the Regligion of Islam. Of course, we know the Mallams are no better educated in what they pretend to teach the children than the children themselves
What message are w seeking to send to our people?
Under our Constitution Primary and Secondary school education are state responsibility. The same Constitution provides that it is a right of every child to be educated by the State. Under normal circumstances, the Federal government and the President of Nigeria do not have any business to interfere with that Sector.
But it is agreed that the Federal Government and, by extension, the President can intervene to ensure equal opportunity of access for all Nigerian children to education. And that they have the obligation to intervene
In my view the States have failed in this import aspect of their duty to their people, especially their children. They should be made to understand that and made to fulfil their obligations to their societies.
Today, in most of Northern Nigeria, school buildings are in advanced stages of decay; schools lack teaching materials and aids. The learning environment is hostile. Lack of qualified teachers or even their total absence is the order of the day.
Why should we expect that the Almajiri schools can be better managed under the prevailing mood of lack of concern for and appreciation for education?
What the President should do is to tell the State Governors of the North to wake up and to be alive to their duties; their obligations and their responsibilities to their societies, especially the children which are the only hope for the future.
We all must understand that the lack of education and the poor quality of what education we are able to get from the present system is a danger to this nation and it is the route cause of all the security and social problems were now experience.
Some have suggested that a Ministry for Northern Nigeria be established to address the problems of the Region. This is not necessary; the approach has several constitutional hurdles and restraints. A simple constitutional way will be for the Federal Government, without creating another bureaucractic bottle neck is to articulate a policy of intervention to achieve the same desired goals.
First retain and strengthen the present UBE Scheme. Adequately fund the scheme. Require every state in the Federation, to revive and strengthen the Education Inspection Service and ensure that every school; from Primary to secondary and informal are regularly inspected and reported to the Local, State and Federal levels.
The Federal Education Advisory Inspection Service should be revived, strengthen by Law to inspect and report on the education of schools throughout the Federation.
The Federal Government should disburse all monies on a well laid out policy basis. All Federal Grants should be made directly to the individual school.
For any school to access to the grants; it must have been inspected by both State and Federal Inspectors and must have attained a specified laid standard; at the National Common Entrance Examination and the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination of either WAEC or NECO; have a minimum number of its students accepted in universities in Nigeria and have managed their schools well all through the year in every other respect. Carrier advancement, further training and good conduct should all be based on performance.
All the agencies; all the staff and budgetary provisions are already in place. The only thing lacking is the will. The President should make it his duty to enforce the will and the interest of the nation and its future.
The idea of Almajiri Schools is bound to fail and should not pursued on the following grounds:
It is too expensive to contemplate, especially there better alternatives;
It is said that there are ten million of these children. This scheme, as presently conceived will need 200,000 classrooms @ at the high figure of 50 students per class and more than a million teachers @ 7 teachers per school;
It will need another huge and extensive administrative structure to manage
It is sure to suffer the same neglect and lack of adequate fund, at least, to the same level that all our educational institutions are suffering from today.
e) We do not need it. We need to move fast
It is recommended that Mr. President should get the National Assembly to pass the necessary legislation to enforce the provision of at least nine years of education to every Nigerian child and to spell out the conditions of Federal Government financial involvement in strict compliance to the use of such funds granted to any state.
It is further very strongly recommended that the President prevails on all States to pass appropriate legislation committing State Governments to work in co-operation and conjunction with the State Government and all Voluntary Educational Institutions in Nigeria.
Let us understand that the as presented the Almajiri Schools, all of them boarding will be another conduit pipe and a new and very costly channel for the diversion and misapplication of Federal funds and resources.
Let us realise that the most important element in this education crisis is the acceptance of the state governments and the general population, especially of the North that what we need is attitudinal change; an acceptance that we are educationally backward and must catch up; we cannot make progress and achieve development with a largely illiterate population. The social consequences are dire.
Joda wrote in from Yola
http://www.leadership.ng/nga/articles/2 ... hools.html
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