The House of Representatives has passed for second reading, a bill seeking to establish a ‘National Commission for Almajiri Education and Out-of-School Children’.
A member of the House from Sokoto State, Shehu Kakale, and 18 others sponsored the bill.
The legislation was titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Establish National Commission for Almajiri Education and out of School Children to Provide for a Multimodal System of Education to tackle the Menace of Illiteracy, Develop Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Programmes, Prevent Youth Poverty, Delinquency and Destitution in Nigeria; and for Related Matters.’
The bill was passed for second reading about 24 hours after former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, warned that the over 20 million out-of-school children in Nigeria, which constitute almost 10 per cent of global statistics, were potential terrorists.
Obasanjo had issued the warning on Tuesday as a panelist at the two-day national summit on Tertiary Education Reform organised by the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, which ended on Wednesday.
Leading the debate on the bill at the second reading on Wednesday, Kakale said, “Nigeria is among many other countries that is confronted with the phenomenon of out-of-school children. As you may be aware, millions of children and teenagers across the country are currently out of school, due to one reason or the other.
“As at September 2022, out-of-school children in Nigeria were estimated to be 18.5 million by the United Nations Children’s Fund. However, the Universal Basic Education Commission estimated the same to be 13.2 million. The statistics appear even grimmer, judging from the rough estimate of out-of-school children per state in the country.
“Several challenges are associated with the high number of out-of-school children in Nigeria. All out-of-school children in Nigeria are at risk of exploitation, vulnerable to recruitment by insurgents, human traffickers and by other criminal elements in the society. In fact, in your address to members of the House of Representatives in this hallowed chamber on January 28, 2020, Mr Speaker, you were very vivid on the rising number of out-of-school children and the danger it portends for the Nigerian state.
“Mr. Speaker, it was in recognition of the enormity of this situation that you urged members of the House of Representatives to do something to save the millions of out-of-school children with special focus on the fate of almajiri children in Nigeria.”
He noted, “It is in light of the need to address this menace that this bill is proposed to the House for consideration. Its intendment is basically to establish the National Commission for Almajiri Education and Out-of-School Children to provide for a multi-modal system of education to tackle the menace of illiteracy.
“Once established, the commission shall be responsible in providing skills acquisition and entrepreneurship programmes development for children and teenagers through schools to reduce the rate of poverty, and lessen delinquency and destitution in Nigeria.
“As I draw this debate to a close, permit me to reiterate the fact that education is pivotal to human development and the growth of a nation. It was in recognition of this that Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had to build 157 Almajiri Model Schools to enable the education of the almajiris in Nigeria.
“There cannot be a functional society without a functional educational system. Accordingly, the establishment of the proposed commission will ensure that the almajiris receive sound education that will shield them from exploitation by criminal elements.”
Several members of the House, including the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, expressed their backing of the bill.
Meanwhile, the House Committee on Basic Education and Services, on Wednesday, laid its report on a bill seeking to establish a National Senior Secondary Education Commission Bill.
The legislation was titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Repeal the National Secondary Education Commission etc. Act, Cap. N73, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Enact the National Senior Secondary Education Commission Bill to Prescribe Minimum Standards for Senior Secondary Education in Nigeria, Manage the National Senior Secondary Education Commission Fund; and for Related Matters.’