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President Muhammadu Buhari has stressed the need for governors to effectively enforce the statutory provisions on free and compulsory basic education.
“Section 18(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended places on all of us here an obligation to eradicate illiteracy and provide free and compulsory education.
“Section 2 of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act provides that every Government in Nigeria shall provide free, compulsory and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age.
“It is indeed a crime for any parent to keep his child out of school for this period. In my view, when a government fails to provide the schools, teachers and teaching materials necessary for basic education, it is actually aiding and abetting that crime,” he said.
The President was speaking on the backdrop of Almajiri ( out of school children roaming the streets in the northern part of Nigeria) during the National Economic Council (NEC) Meeting, yesterday.
According to Buhari, ensuring proper education during the first nine years of schooling means that the children start off their lives with some discipline and education. The president said the children will be safeguarded from roaming the streets and protected from all the evil influences that assail idle hands and idle minds.
He said while the Federal Government has primary responsibility for security and will not shy away from it, the states also have a critical role to play.
“You can definitely make a difference, not just by assisting the security agencies in your respective states, but also by keenly pursuing policies and programmes that forestall communal, tribal, religious and societal conflicts; policies and programs that promote education, information, dispute resolution, vocational training and youth employment,” he said.
The president noted that his first four years of governance had demonstrated unwavering inclusiveness in dealing with every state, notwithstanding the political leaning of the governor or the predominant party in power at the state level. “I want this to be your model at the state level. No matter which party we belong to, let us shun divisive policies and join hands together for the upliftment of our people,” he said.
Bonguno Reveals FG’s Plan On Almajiri
The National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno who briefed newsmen on Federal Government’s plan on the Al-majiri groups said, “It is very important to proscribe certain groups ultimately running around under the guise of maybe getting some kind of education that is not really formal and then begin to cause a lot of problems for society.
“Ultimately, government will have to proscribe this Almajiri phenomenon because we cannot continue to have street urchins, children roaming around, only for them in a couple of years, or decades to become a problem to society.
“We are not saying that they are going to be contained in a manner that you might think we want to do something that is harmful to them, no. What we want to do is to work with the state governments to enforce the policy of education for every child. It is every child’s right, his entitlement so long as he is a Nigerian.
” He said the model used in the Western region in the 50s and 60s would be consolidated upon and adopted to address the Almajiri challenge.
“If you recall what happened in the Western region, I think in the 50s and the 60s when the Premier made education free and compulsory at both primary and secondary levels. This is what we are looking at,” he said. Monguno, a retired Major General, said one of the elements of national power was the population of a country.
“Population is a very critical element of national power. It is from the population that you get a critical mass. So, when we look at population, as an element of National security, don’t be surprised if out of every 100 almajiri, you have two neurologists, four architects, two lawyers, and so on and so forth.
“If you don’t start thinking about short and long term to overcome this problem like I told you earlier on, you require collective efforts. You can’t carry this load and drop it on top of the government, even government should not work as a one-legged tripod, it has to be three-legged.
“We have to deal with the issue of these children, Almajiri, regardless of how people feel about it. We must work in sync with the rest of the international communities. How many countries operate this kind of system? “Let’s be very, very sincere to ourselves, we have to look at this issue that we have been sweeping under the carpet.
“So, when I briefed the NEC, I alerted them on the dangers of this phenomenon and the President in inaugurating NEC also stressed that we must make education free and compulsory.
We are not trying to denigrate any group of people,” he said.
He said the Boko Haram insurgency continues to remain very fragile, adding that it’s still a problem that needs to be readdressed with the collective effort of both intelligence and operations.
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