Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
Northern state governors have met to review the successes so far made on the Almajiri system in the region, concluding that the steps taken to evacuate the children to their states of origin and to re-unite them with their families and guardians were laudable.
The virtual meeting which was convened at the instance of the Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF), Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, also discussed how to consolidate on the success to ensure that the children are given proper education and care.
The governors also received briefing from the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs. Mariam Uwais, who explained that the federal government was willing to partner the northern governors in the process of ensuring that the children are given a smooth transition from the Almajiri system to formal education.
She said the initial plan was to ensure that proper data is generated so that the children would be kept in a school environment for about six to nine months and be given intense basic education and skills to enable them fit into the new perspective, which will prepare them for the classroom and formal school system, adding that those who are a bit older and may want to go into trade and other vocations will also be trained to do that.
Meanwhile, Leader of Ansarudeen Global Resources, the consultants engaged by the governors to conduct detailed research on the Almajiri phenomenon in the region, Mohammed Alquassim Yahaya, was also at the meeting to update the governors.
Yahaya said they were still harvesting the data which was slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic, and assured them that before March 2021, the data will be ready. The governors asked for speedy work on the assignment to keep pace with developments on the subject.
Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Paullen Tallen, also addressed the governors on the girl-child education in northern Nigeria, where she stressed that educating the girl-child would reduce the burden of the region in the areas of poverty alleviation and illiteracy.
She appealed to the governors to fast-track the domestication of the Child Rights Act in the region, as 10 states in the North are yet to domesticate the law after it was enacted at the federal level.
The World Bank Country Director, Shubham Chaudhuri, and Education Specialist, Aisha Garba Mohammed, were also invited to brief the governors on the bank’s interventions in the region in the areas of education, health and empowerment.
They said some of the bank’s empowerment programmes in the region are focused on women and girls, and that the governors are the key drivers for implementation. They explained that the $500 million grant recently announced for six states in the country has five states from the North as beneficiaries, adding that it will be targeted towards improving education by constructing and renovating over 5,000 schools close to the communities, support poor families and for social engagement.