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FG’s N15 bn Tsangaya/ Almajiri Schools rot away

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FG’s N15 bn Tsangaya/ Almajiri Schools rot away
 

Seven years after the launching of the Almajiri Model School Programme by the then President Goodluck Jonathan-led Federal Government, the story is today that of neglect and rot

 

  • ˜Stakeholders: Blame Buhari-led FG for neglect
  • ˜Schools doing well, in session – Bauchi SUBEB chair

Stakeholders have expressed worried that despite the several billions of naira spent by the Federal Government to provide unfettered access to qualitative education for the Almajiri children, especially in the Northern part of the country, the funds have gone down the drain. According to them, palpable rot is today characterizing the Almajiri schools built by the Federal Government, which have been left to deteriorate after completion, as facilities in the Almajiri Model Schools in most states such as Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina and Kano are decaying. The Federal Government-led by the then President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012 had formally launched the Almajiri Education Programme, under which Model Tsangaya/Almajiri schools were built across the country to mainstream the Almajiri school system in basic education and to reduce the growing figure of out-of-school children in the country.

 

But, rather than promote the programme, with about 139 schools most of which are rotten away due to neglect by some of the state governments and shift of priority by the present administration at the centre. This was as some stakeholders blamed the state governments’ indifference to the Almajiri Model Schools on lack of interest by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government. With the launch of the programme by former President Jonathan on April 10, 2012 at Gagi in Sokoto State, to address the high illiteracy rate in the northern region, the Federal Government was to spend N15 billion to build the integrated model schools as part of moves to modernize Almajiri education system and make the schools more attractive to the children.

The model boarding schools were to be equipped with modern facilities, conducive classrooms, language laboratory, recitation hall, dormitories, clinic, vocational workshop, dining hall and quarters for teachers, as well as stateof- the-art school furniture for teachers and pupils and modern toilet facilities, among others. For a start the government built 400 of such schools in the North and for which the government spent about N15 billion.

But, a critical look at the schools and programme today is that of failure and neglect by the various state governments as some of the schools have been converted to conventional schools while facilities in some were already depleted. But, to some state government, the Almajiri School programme is in the righting footing and progressing, even as they debunked allegation ofneglect of the programme after it was launched in 2012. According to them, necessary support through allocation of funds, provision of facilities, and recruitment of teachers, modern toilet facilities and provision of enabling environment are being given to the schools.

However, further investigations by New Telegraph have indicated that lack of teachers, abandoned school projects, lack of pupils, lack of facilities other than laboratory tables, as well as neglect are some of the challenges confronting the programme. In Kano State, which was said to be the first pace setter in the establishment of the Tsangaya/Almajiri Schools in the country before the project Federal Government took over the under former President Jonathan in 2012, the Almajiri schools, amidst cash crunch affecting the state are still being operated.

Kano State, New Telegraph learnt that after receiving the operated Federal Government Almajiri Schools in 2014, provided N4.5 billion as operating cash backings for the schools and established other model boarding schools in 2015 by the Abdullahi Ganduje’s administration. According to the Managing Public Relations Officer of Kano Qur’anic and Tsangaya Almajiri Schools, Mallam Yushau Bichi, who spoke with our Correspondent, the state presently has 12 Tsangaya Almajiri Schools one for Girls and 10 boarding and two day schools.

He said over 1,750 pupils (boys and girls) are currently enrolled in the Tsangaya Almajiri Schools, who are being fed and given schools materials by the government on monthly basis. “The 12 Tsangaya Almajiri Schools are spread across some selected 10 Local Government Areas of the state, which are Dala, Tsanyawa, Dawakin Kudu, Warawa, Gaya, Albasu, Doguwa, Madobi, Gaya, Bichi and Dawakin Tofa,” he noted. Similarly, further investigation revealed that apart from the 12 model Tsangaya Almajiri schools, there are over 21,000 Local Qur’anic Schools operating in Kano and with over 10 million unrecorded students. Already Bichi added that plans were under way to conduct a census of all the Local Qur’anic Schools in Kano for the government to accommodate all of them, further explained that under Governor Ganduje, the government had also added another two new Tsangaya Almajiri schools in Kano and that more would be built soon.

Apart from the government’s intervention, he pointed out that many associations and private organisations, such as #Better Almajiri#, are coming on stream to help in the development of Almajiri schools. Meanwhile, the Leader of #Better Almajiri System#, Abdusamad Ahmad Yusuf operates the Almajiri basic literacy classes at Rimin kebe, Kano every Thursday and Friday.

 

The programme was instituted,according to the operators, to avail the Almajiri children the opportunity to basic literacy skills: reading and writing in both Hausa and English languages, as well as to teach them basic Mathematics and Arithmetic. He said” “I have distributed writing materials such as exercise books, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, biros and school bags containing the materials to the children. It is something worthy to be proud of as I coordinated the establishment of the classes and now monitors how it is progressing.” Also, Sokoto, where the Almajiri system of education was said to be as old as itself, street begging, to the state government, has reached a pathetic level. Also in Sokoto State, which described the intervention of the then President Jonathan-led Federal Government as a “concerted effort towards addressing the issue of Almajiri menace across the Northern region through establishment of Almajiri Model Schools,” it recalled that the Universal Basic Education Board (UBEC) established Almajiri Model Boarding Schools at Gagi community in Kware Local Government Area and the Day School at Tambuwal LGA at the cost of N240 million, which have continued to record impressive pupil enrolment. Though, the Principal of the school declined comments on the operations of the school, our Correspondent, who visited the school, however, reported that Sokoto State Government during the administration of the then Governor Aliyu Wamakko made spirited efforts in Almajiri education by establishing 11 Almajiri Integrated Model Schools (AIMS) across the state.

Two of the schools were said to have been established at Shuni and Wamakko Local Government Areas respectively under the Department of Ministry for Religious Affairs. Besides, the government also created the Department for Almajiri Integrated Schools to oversee the schools, and under the arrangement, the Department formulates policies and ensures their execution to the letter. The other nine Almajiri schools are placed under the supervision of the state Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education. Specifically, over 900 pupils are currently at Shuni Almajiri Schools and over 100 others at Wamakko Almajiri School.

The schools run primary and junior secondary school, while recently the Shuni School commenced senior secondary school system. Investigations also revealed that Shuni and Wamakko Almajiri Schools have 56 teachers and other supporting staff on its payroll. An Islamic scholar based in Sokoto, Malam Hamza Usman, who underscored the importance of education to all children, urged all to accept the programme in good faith, lamented that most parents did not value modern education in the programme of their children. He said education is necessary in view of its values and tendencies to reduce restiveness among the young ones and ensuring peace in the society. New Telegraph investigation revealed that the state government had been meeting the various Islamic associations and stakeholders, as well as organised enlightenment programmes on how to ensure enabling environment for the programme to be more acceptable and successful.

This was as it said that the programme was geared to assist them in managing the Almajiri pupils and the system of education, while allowing the traditional system of reading Qur’an to be included in the programme in the Almajiri Integrated Schools. Also, in efforts to address the issue of Almajiri in Borno State, the wife of the state governor, Hajiya Nanah Shettima through her pet project, the Support for Women, Orphans and Sangaya Schools (SWOT) Foundation has initiated various programmes to cushion the hardship faced by the Almajiri children.

To tackle the menace, Hajiya Shettima through her project is intervening in the area of entrepreneurship development, skill acquisition and education. Meanwhile, the Secretary of the SWOT Foundation, Alhaji Abdussalam Muhammad said the foundation had touched the lives of over10,000 almajiri pupils across over 500 Tsagaya Schools through empowerment and skills acquisitions.” Through the foundation’s intervention, it was learnt that it provided 100 tricycles to the students of the Almajiri schools with a view to making them selfreliant, 200 grinding machine, food stuff and first aid kits.

Besides, the foundation also introduced and integrated both western and Islamic education at the Tsangaya schools, built over 2,000 structures with generating sets powered by solar and others instructional materials and books to enhance their learning process. The Foundation has trained over 200 teachers and distributed treads, needles, plain clothes to pupils and Almajiri children for their skill acquisition. “We have also in collaboration with the Entrepreneurship Development Centre to train the Almajiri pupils in various skills with a view to making them selfreliant,” he added. Since one of the major reasons for intervening in Tsangaya/Almajiri schools across northern states by the previous administration was to address the issue of insecurity and reduce street begging among the almajiri children, Bauchi State has the largest number of Tsangaya /Almajiri Schools with over 35,000 Qu’anic Schools spread across the state.

So far, the 500 Tsangaya/ Almajiri Schools in the state are said to be currently benefiting from N825 million financial assistance by the Governor Isah Yuguda’s administration. In his remarks, the Chairman Bauchi State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Prof. Yahaya Yero said that reports that the Tsangaya Schools we’re closed down for lack of funds was untrue.

He said the report was directed at tarnishing the image of the state, saying the Almajiri Schools are fully in session and all the pupils are attending classes and normal learning are ongoing. According to him, there had been no challenge of underfunding since the establishment of the schools as the state government makes available allocations yearly for the operations. Unlike the former system, where pupils in Tsangaya Schools learnt only recitation and memorise the Qur’an, while they moved from house to house begging for food and money in order to eat and give to their teachers, who were not paid salary, the Integrated Tsangaya Schools pay the teachers monthly salary of between N3,000 and N5,000.

 

But, New Telegraph revealed that the problems of Almajiri Schools ranged from the dearth of accommodation and feeding to shortage of teachers and lack of teaching and instructions materials. To address the problem of begging among Tsangaya school children, Sheik Dahiru Usman Bauchi called on the state government to embark on multidimensional strategies which include establishment of modern Islamic colleges with facilities to train the children in western and Islamic education and skill acquisition.

 

NewTelegraph 

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