President Muhammadu Buhari has clarified his position on the intended ban of the Almajiri system in Nigeria.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Garba Shehu on Friday, 21st June, the president said the proscription was not going to be immediately.
He, however defended the move as being within the provisions of the law.
EduCeleb.com reports that the over a millennium old Almajiri phenomenon in Nigeria is largely associated with street begging by kids enrolled in Quranic schools mainly in the North today.
These children constitute over 50 percent of Nigeria’s out of school children, according to the Federal Ministry of Education.
The compulsory, free basic education act 2004 mandates government to ensure that all school aged children are enrolled in school and parents who refuse to enrol their wards are prosecuted.
But the president has called for caution in the wake of reaction to such a move to implement the law.
“The Presidency notes that while the Buhari administration is committed to free and compulsory education as a long-term objective of bringing to an end, the phenomenon of out-of-school children, any necessary ban on Almajiri would follow due process and consultation with relevant authorities.”
“Indeed, the Federal government wants a situation where every child of primary school age is in school rather than begging on the streets during school hours.”
“At the same time, we don’t want to create panic or a backlash.”
“Reports that there are plans for massive arrest of parents are definitely out of place. Things have to be done the right and considerate way.”
In his speech at the inauguration of NEC, President Buhari stated that the country’s children have rights and must be given their due rights and protection under the law.
The president agreed with public opinion that the Almajiri phenomenon represents a security challenge and a scar on the face of Northern Nigeria.
In that speech, the President said:
“On education, I want to stress in particular the need to take very seriously and enforce very rigorously 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.
“This is, therefore, a call to action. I would like to see every Governor rise from this meeting and rally his local Government Chairmen towards ensuring that our schools offer the right opportunities and provide the needed materials and teachers for basic education, at the minimum.
‘‘If we are able to do this, the benefits will surely manifest themselves.”
He challenged state governments to put in place structures like schools and educational materials for pupils as not doing so makes them complicit in violating the laws of the land.