Far from the usual laissez-faire attitude associated with the execution of contracts in the country, the Federal Government sponsored Almajiri Education Programme (AEP) is witnessing speedy delivery on projects across the 19 northern states with the exemption of Plateau State.
The first phase of the project hoped to remodel and integrate Qur’anic learning system which, over time, became known as the almajiri system, has so far delivered over 100 out of the 400 model schools earmarked for commissioning this year and beyond, according to Shehu Gladanchi, chairman, National Committee on the Implementation of the Almajiri Education Programme, in his progress report.
Already, states such as Sokoto, Kano, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Jigawa, and Kaduna are benefiting in the first batch of 35 schools (10 boarding and 25 day) built at the cost of N5 billion provided by Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETF) in the short run, while the 100 and 400 schools are in the long and future, respectively.
These states which are in the North West geo-political zone are the first beneficiaries of the projects because the zone accounts for about 60 percent of the estimated 9.5 million of almajiri children in the country.
“The Federal Government, through the fund, had mapped out N5 billion for construction, equipping, furnishing and provision of books for 10 model boarding and 20 day schools across the country”, Mahmoud Yakubu, TETF scribe, explained.
He also noted that all the states in northern Nigeria except Plateau have been supportive of the initiative, which would see the Federal Government building and equipping similar schools to be handed over to state governments for maintenance and sustenance.
With the first phase nearing completion, the second phase of almajiri education scheme is moving to other parts of the 19 northern states.
Projects are also on-going in the South Western geo-political zone with over 809, 319 almajiris especially in Ekiti and Oyo states, noted Modupe Adelabu, a professor and chairman, Ekiti State Universal Basic Education Board, while inaugurating a nine-member implementation committee, which will oversee the almajiri education in the state.
There is also indication that the project will further cover the South East geo-political zone especially Ebonyi and Anambra states with the highest number of school drop-outs that end up the almajiri way of no education.
However, since the launch of the first-ever model almajiri school at Gagi in Sokoto State built with N240 million by President Goodluck Jonathan last year, the funding of the project has been raising controversy as TETF claims funding the first phase while Universal Basic Education Commission also claim to play a role in funding, remodeling of the curriculum and administration of the system.
It would be recalled that Ahmed Mohamed-Ali, president, Islamic Development Bank, during a courtesy call on Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance, in March last year disclosed that the bank has committed the sum of $470 million for the bilingual education of almajiris in the country.
Speaking on an initial disbursement, he said, “We are going to sign a $98 million agreement, we all believe this should be a beginning and it could be enlarged in the future”.
Again, the Federal Government also announced an annual funding of the project to the tune of N2 billion. The question that needs to be answered is the nature of IDB fund and Federal Government part in it.
But wherever the source of the funding may come from, many express fears over Federal Government decision to build, equip, and hand over the schools to state governments for maintenance and sustenance as confirmed by Nyesom Wike, Minister of State for Education, during inspection of the on-going construction of the almajiri schools in Lambar Tureta and Badau communities in Sokoto State.