Northern governors never wanted Jonathan’s Almajiri schools to work – ex-UBEC chief

A dilapidated office within the administrative block of the Almajiri Model School, Dutsin-Ma
A dilapidated office within the administrative block of the Almajiri Model School, Dutsin-Ma

The immediate past Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Ahmed Moddibo has alleged that governors in states across Northern Nigeria never wanted the success of the Almajiri Education Programme under the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.

Modibbo, an history professor, alleged that the governors frustrated the integration of the Almajiri school system with basic education because of material gains. recalls that the Jonathan reportedly spent about N15 billion on the construction and equipment of 157 Tsangaya (Almajiri) model schools across the country to complement efforts at reducing the number of out-of-school children.

Overtimes, many of the schools are rotting away due to abandonment and negligence of state actors since their construction from 2010.

Based on the initial agreement among stakeholders, state governments were suppose to take over the running of the schools after their completion.

But while speaking at a lecture with the theme, ‘Before the ban on the Almajiri system of education in Nigeria’, in Kaduna, Modibbo said the schools were abandoned by northern governors because they wanted to be given cash to construct them.

“The state governors left the schools unoccupied, abandoned and vandalised because most state governments refused to even take them over, not to talk of fulfilling their own obligations contained in the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the federal government,” Modibbo said.

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“The state governments were not happy with the decision of the federal government to undertake the project through UBEC and the Eduction Tax Fund (ETF), as they wanted the money to be given to them so that they could nominate contractors for the project.”

Modibbo recalled that the failure of the traditional Almajiri education system started from when the colonial administration in the Northern Province stopped giving financial aid to Islamic education in 1922 following the establishment of the first teacher training college in Katsina.

He said all efforts to address the challenges plaguing the Islamic system of education in Nigeria have failed owing to northern political leaders who “are squarely responsible for the failure to have a fully integrated Quranic system of education with basic education”.

The Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act of 2004 mandates state governments to ensure the integration of the traditional Tsangaya into the Western education system. But only few states have taken deliberate steps in that direction.

The former UBEC chief was optimistic that if the comprehensive blueprint and draft plan of action introduced by the commission in 2017 were followed, the implementation of the Almajiri Quranic education project will succeed.

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He also called for strict implementation of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Act, the introduction of school time marshals and catering for the welfare of the children.

He equally harped on ensuring accountability by having the National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) monitor the utilisation of funds released for the implementation of basic education. reports that the lecture was organised by the Centre for Historical Documentation and Research of Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU), Zaria.

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