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Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, Tuesday canvassed the review of the Almajiri education curriculum.
The existing education system for Almajiri, they said, was not working to bridge the gap.
Saraki and Lawan spoke on the floor of the Senate to mark this year’s Children’s Day celebration in the country.
Lawan specifically asked northern states to reform their Almajiri system of education in the interest of the country.
He said, “We are celebrating that there is going to be enormous resources for the health sector to develop our health sector.
“I believe that the time has also come to give something substantial to education especially for the basic education that captures from Kindergarten to junior secondary school education.
“I have consciously decided to bring to our attention and other major stakeholders what the provisions of the Universal Basic Education Act 2004 provide for the education of our children.
“Some parts read: Section 2 subsection 1 of the compulsory free Universal education act 2004 provides that, every Government in Nigeria shall provide compulsory and universal basic education for any child of primary and junior secondary school.
“Subsections provide that every parent shall ensure that his child or ward attend and completes his primary school education and junior secondary school education by endeavoring to send the child to primary and junior secondary school. Section 3 provides: The stakeholders shall ensure that every parent that is taking care of a child performs his or her duty as provided under Section 2 subsection 2 of this Act.
“In fact subsection 4 and 5 provide for penalties for parents or guardian who refused to send their children to school and also any government that fails to provide a learning environment.
“I believe that the major source of insecurity today in this country is probably the neglected section of the society particularly those that cannot go to school.
“We have children within the age bracket of 16, 17 and 18 when they become adults have been involved in insurgency and all manners of criminal activities including armed bandits.
“I believe it is time for the government to walk the talk provided for in the compulsory and universal Basic Education that has consciously passed as legislation since 2004.
“This Senate may be winding down; we owe it a duty to hold discussion as much as possible on this matter to ensure that our children are not left on the streets.
“The next National Assembly should commit itself to ensure that the basic education that is supposed to be free is implemented to the later.
“Because whether we like or not those who are not in school are prone to all manners of influences and even criminal activities.
“If we are fighting crime and insurgency, we must be looking at the sources of recruitment. The recruits are there. Those of 17 years of age who are supposed to be in school are roaming the streets.
“Even though it is controversial, a time has come in those states where the Almajiri system is established for over 100 years to consider and see how we can work out a system that will ensure the Almajiri system should not continue in the way and manner that it is today because if we want to bring people on board why not tamper with the religious learning. Why not provide a climate conducive for these children who roam the streets to go to formal schools without compromising their learning for religious benefit.
“I believe that this is going to be a major issue because we have to transform this sector if we want to ensure that these people contribute to national development and also reduce the chances and the risk of getting these people recruited into insurgency and banditry.
Saraki on his own said, “In our society where large percentage of our children are still out of school, we owe that responsibility not only that all our children have the opportunity to go to school but make it mandatory for parents to ensure they send their wards to school.
“We must work towards that at all levels to see that it is not just free education but that parents must be held responsible to ensure that.
“We have passed some bills to improve the funds for UBEC to reduce the percentage of contribution by states so that it is possible to access funds to UBEC level.
“A lot of work has to be done with the new governors coming, no matter what we do or say at the national level. We owe it a duty that in this area there is a great improvement because unless we address the issues in the education sector we would not prepare our children for the challenges ahead of them in the world.
“Education is the greatest assets of any nation and that of our children. As we celebrate we should remember our responsibilities as representatives of the people. We would do our best to make the future better for our children.”