Still on the issue of Almajiranci

Recently I engaged in a discussion on the issue of Almajiranci education on social media; you can check the Twitter thread below. Personally, I am of the strong view that everything hinges on government’s ability to provide educational opportunities and also coerce parents to send their children to public schools. By providing free: compulsory education and school meals (for poor families), the government would be able to address some of the fundamental underlying factors that are contributing to the abuse of the Almajiranci education system.

From a recent discussion I had with a friend that runs an NGO – School In The Sreet – for homeless children and young people in Abeokuta – he recently relocated it to Ikorodu in Lagos due to lack of support from the government – he said most of the children and young people (CYP) only stay in the free school they set up for them for about three months and then they would move on to another location. He said what they discovered was that the CYP were running away from their parents’ or guardians’ homes because it was easier for them to make money doing some menial jobs like working on farms and doing bus conductors among, hence it’s more viable for them to be on the street, out-of-school and homeless than to be in-school and leaving with their parents or guardians. So with that, it makes it very hard for their parents or guardians to keep hold of them, and the bad economic situation in the country makes it hard for some of those parents or guardians to have any meaningful or reasonable control over the custody of such CYP, and this is coupled with gross negligence on the part of many of the parents.

So, to address the situation, I am of the opinion that there is need for:

  1. mandatory registration of births and deaths in Nigeria
  2. well integrated and inclusive community healthcare system
  3. criminalisation of commercial child labour
  4. provision of free compulsory public education by the government from Reception Year at age 5 to Senior Secondary School 3: ages 5 to 18
  5. financial penalties against state governments that refuse to access the UBE fund available to them. Situations in which in Nigeria: Five States Refuse to Access N6.5 Billion UBE Fund (2008), FG blasts states for not accessing N41 billion UBE fund (2014), FG Warns States over Refusal to Access N41bn UBEC Fund (2016) or State Governments have refused to access N86.5bn UBE Fund – Falana (2018) should not be happening when Nigeria now has 13.2 million out of school children – UBEC
  6. free but optional Early Years Education from ages 3 to 5
  7. compulsory registration of any informal education setting/provider that operates between 7am and 4pm -the usual time for compulsory schooling in Nigeria – on weekdays during term time.
  8. the implementation of the provision of the UBE Act of 2004 that makes it possible for erring parents that refuse to send their children to school at the compulsory school age level to be sent to jail by the government; I strongly believe the option of #2,000 or #5,000 should be expunged from the COMPULSORY, FREE UNIVERSAL BASIC EDUCATION ACT,2004 (PDF)*:
  9. – (1) Every Government in Nigeria shall provide free, compulsory and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age.

(2) Every parent shall ensure that his child or ward attends and completes his –

(a) primary school education; and

(b) junior secondary school education, by endeavouring to send the child to primary and junior secondary schools.

(3) The stake-holders in education in a Local Government Area, shall ensure that every parent or person who has the care and custody of a child performs the duty imposed on him under section 2(2) of this Act.

(4) A parent who contravenes section 2 (2) of this Act commits an offence and is liable-

(a) on first conviction, to be reprimanded;

(b) on second conviction, to a fine of N2,OOO:OO or imprisonment for a term of 1 month or to both; and

(c) on subsequent conviction, to a fine of N5,OOO:OO or imprisonment for a term of 2 months or to both.

  1. provision of free: school meals and learning resources for public school students at the compulsory education level by the government
  2. exploration of the use of alternative methods of education in educating CYP in Nigeria, e.g. outdoor learning but with the full provision of the national curriculum
  3. revitalisation of rural economies – DFRRI Act comes to mind in this instance**
  4. national wealth redistribution**

Finally, I would like to state clearly that the problem of out-of-school children in Nigeria is not just about the problem of “Almajiranci education” but a national problem that has multi-layered issues around it. That there are millions of out-of-school children in parts of Nigeria that are not known to be places that traditionally have Almajiranci education system in place should give everyone a hint that, while the issue of Almajiranci education system is a fundamental national issue, Almajiranci might have become a smokescreen for politicians and bureaucrats to hide the unbelievable collapse of the Nigerian public education system. You can read CPI’s short history on Universal Basic Education in Nigeria for some background knowledge on the historical tensions that exist in the provision of mass education in Nigeria.

*I have bolded some parts of the UBE Act 2004 to emphasise my point.

**11&12 are what I would call “wish list”.

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