The federal government is considering proscribing the Al-majiri system of education in order to tackle insecurity.
Babagana Monguno, national security adviser, who disclosed this at the end of the national executive council meeting in Abuja, said the ban is to ensure that no child is deprived of basic education.
Almajiri is a system of Islamic education practiced in northern Nigeria. Almajiri was derived from an Arabic word, rendered “al-Muhajirun” in English transliteration, meaning a person who leaves his home in search of knowledge.
Monguno said Almajiris were becoming a huge problem to the society, adding that many of them end up becoming “criminals, drug addicts and willing tools in the hands of those who have very dangerous intentions”.
He said: “I also briefed council on the drivers of insecurity which are unemployment, under-employment, poverty, drugs abuse, rising population.
“I also made suggestions regarding the way forward which include, employment creation and reduction of poverty, and being the culture of impunity and looking at stabilizing certain areas of the country by giving rise to affordable education.
“This is very important because in most parts of the country we have a lot of children roaming around without any formal education. And as the president has mentioned earlier, we need to make education compulsory and free for every child in the country because the problem we face today are rooted in the fact that a lot of people who have been denied the opportunity basically the opportunity to get formal education end up over the years, there is accumulation of large mass of human beings who end up becoming criminals, drug addicts and so on and so forth. And they end up becoming tools to be used by elements in the wider society who have very dangerous intentions.
“And therefore, it is very important to proscribe certain groups running around under the guise of maybe getting some kind of education that is not really formal.”
Asked to mention the groups to be proscribed, Monguno said: “The group I spoke about on illiteracy is the Almajiri. Ultimately, government will have to proscribe this Almajiri phenomenon because we cannot continue to have street urchins, children roaming around, only for them in a couple of years, or decades to become a problem to society.
“We are not saying that they are going to be contained in a manner, that you might think we want to do something that is harmful to them, no. What we want to do is to work with the state government to enforce the policy of education for every child.
“It is every child’s right, his entitlement so long as he is a Nigerian. If you recall what happened in the Western region, I think in the 50s and the 60s, when the premier made education free and compulsory at both primary and secondary levels. This is what we are looking at. Let me tell you something, one of the element of national power is the population of a country. You don’t just rely on your armed forces, the location and so on and so forth. Population is a very critical element of national power. It is from the population that you get a critical mass.
“Imagine the child that was 10 years old on 27th July, 2009, in 37 days time, it will be exactly 10 years when Boko Haram erupted, he will be 20 by then. We are not talking of one child, there are millions of them. So, when we look at population, as an element of national security, don’t be surprised if out of every 100 Almajiri, you have two neurologists, four architects, two lawyers, and so on and so forth. You have to start thinking short and long term to overcome this problem, you require collective efforts. You can’t carry this load and drop it on top of the government, even government should not work as a one legged tripod, it has to be three legged. We have to deal with the issue of these children, Almajiri, regardless of how people feel about it. We must work in sync with the rest of international community, how many countries that operate this kind of system.
While responding to a question on the $1 billion approved for equipment to fight Boko Haram, Monguno, who coordinates the nation’s security architecture, said he could not tell if the money had been released.
“The $1billion I believe that you are talking about was actually earmarked for the military, not for security agencies, like the intelligence community and the paramilitary agencies. It was earmarked for the military. As much as I know, whether it was given to them, I really don’t know,” he said.