President Goodluck Jonathan has commissioned the first Model Almajiri Boarding School in Gagi village, Sokoto-south Local Government Area, of Sokoto state.

The President described the commissioning as  “truly historic” noting that nation is marking another milestone in its educational development process with the commissioning of the Model Almajiri Boarding School.

According the President, “this is the first modern boarding school entirely dedicated to the Almajiri”, adding that the school is part of his administration’s “determined effort to provide equal access to education for all Nigerian children.”

Almajiri’s are homeless child beggars. There are an estimated 9.5 million Almajiri’s in the country with majority in the North-West region of the country which accounts for almost 5 million of the children at over 60% of the total Almajiri  population.

The new model Almajiri boarding Schools will provide accommodation for the homeless children with a combination of western and Quranic eduction.

Knowledge the president said, is the pedestal on which a nation’s social cohesion and economic development depends. “No nation achieves greatness if its youths, who are its greatest assets and successor generation, have no access to quality education” he opined, adding that “this is even more real in today’s knowledge-driven world.”

He also lamented the failure of the Nigerian government to provide qualitative education to the nation’s youth saying “unfortunately, and in spite of the best efforts of government, the goal of providing access to quality education has not been fully realized in Nigeria.”

President Jonathan noted that the time has come for the nation to build on the synchronizing the moral foundations of the traditional school system with western education. “By providing the Almajiri with conventional knowledge and skills that will enable them fully realize their creative and productive potentials” he said.

“It is with this objective in mind that I directed the Minister of Education sometime last year to liaise with the stakeholder state Governments and work out, as a matter of urgency, the best approach to providing knowledge and skills to these young Nigerians.”

“The conclusion was that robust affirmative action involving structured intervention by both the federal and state governments would be required.  While the federal government would provide funds for the construction and equipment of model schools, including the provision of textbooks and capacity-building for teachers; the states shall be fully responsible for managing the schools as well as the construction of additional schools in the long run in order to achieve the desired impact” he explained.

9.5 million Almajiris’
A study conducted by the Ministerial Committee on Almajiri Education in 2010 revealed that there are 9.5 million Almajiri’s in the country.

The North-West geo-political zone accounts for almost 5 million of the children with over 60% of the total population of the Almajiri nationwide.

Majority of these children do not attend conventional basic education schools makes the situation worrisome.

The Federal Government has since spent N5 billion on constructing 35 model Almajiri primary schools being in 18 of the 19 northern states. This was made known by the executive secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETF), Professor Mahmood Yakubu on Monday ahead of today’s commissioning.