When Kebbi was created from the old Sokoto State on Aug. 27, 1991, the state was listed as one of the educationally less-advantaged states in the north-western part of the country.
Irrespective of the status of the state in that regard then, the number of “street children’’ had been steadily on the increase until the present administration, citizens of the state agree.
To buttress the agreement, prior to the inauguration of the present administration in the state, a recent report from the Kebbi Ministry of Education indicated that 498,000 children were out of school.
Similarly, a statistic by the UNICEF showed that the state had 68 per cent out of school children in 2012 and the net attendant ratio at primary level was 22.3 per cent in 2015.
Worried by the development and to take the children of the streets and to boost enrollment in schools, the Kebbi Government in collaboration with Mass Literacy Programme and Almajiri Initiative, MALPAI, recently began a human development programme to take children off streets in Kebbi.
Governor Atiku Bagudu of the state said that the state government earmarked N1.8 billion to take 600,000 children off streets in the state.
“Previously at the MALPAI event, I said we had earmarked over N900 million to be disbursed through the Ministry of Basic Education in the state; but now the money has risen to N1.8 billion,’’ he said.
Mr Bagudu said that more than 600,000 out of school children would be enrolled in schools through financial support.
“The support will be provided to the teachers and pupils in addition to toilet facilities, accommodation, teaching and learning materials to Almajiri schools for proper upbringing,’’ he said.
The governor noted that the children would be taught English and Mathematics to enable them to further education up to colleges of education, polytechnics or universities in line with the nation’s education policy.
“The aim is to assist the less privileged, orphans and Almajiri to live a better life which is the core programme of human development,’’ the governor said
The governor commended his wife Hajiya Aisha Bagudu, the founder of MALPAI, for her initiative.
He urged parents and guardians to enrol their wards and children into schools, assuring that government would support and encourage them to excel in all fields.
In her view, Zainab Bagudu, the First Lady, said that the organisation, which recently celebrated its 10 years of establishment, would continue to provide support and assistance to the less-privileged in society.
“The foundation recently sponsored more tahn 300 children to various schools and tertiary institutions.
“We are doing this to encourage the underprivileged children to have to access western education.
She said that some of the children had gained admissions into universities and polytechnics.
She said that her foundation was also doing this to complement the efforts of the state government at boosting the enrollment of out-of-school children into the state’s public schools.
She said that some of the children that had benefited from the foundation were girls from Qur’anic schools and boys fending for themselves — the almajiri.
According to her, the foundation has penetrated some nomadic settlements and the hard-to-reach villages with a view to increasing the enrollment of the less-privileged children into public schools.
“We went to about 44 Fulani communities in the four emirates we have in the state; we trained women on how to be self- reliant.
“We vaccinated their cattle against diseases and gave them support which we believe will help them to encourage their spouses and let them send their wards to schools.
“We have also created an enabling environment at our literacy centres in the state in an effort to make education accessible to children of school age.
“We want to see the less privileged children competing favourably with the children of the well-to-do in the tertiary institutions; and we want them to become productive citizens to the society after graduation,’’ she said.
Mrs Bagudu said that the foundation had reached out to agencies of government, national and international organisations for collaboration.
She said that such collaboration would help to improve the lives of the less-privileged children through education.
Mrs Bagudu who said that her foundation was being self-funded, however, expressed appreciation to the governor for his administration’s assistance and collaboration with it.
She said that the assistance and collaboration had enabled the foundation to reach out to the remote communities and settlements within the state.
She expressed appreciation and gratitude for the support and encouragement from the governor to the success of the initiative.
The former state Commissioner for Education, Magawata Aliero, said the programme of Almajiri system introduced by the wife of the governor had been accepted widely in the state.
“We have established six schools via her initiatives; three in Birnin Kebbi, one in Dakingari, Koko and Argungu,’’ he said.
The State Permanent, Ministry of Education, Rafa’atu Hammani, in her view, said that the government had commenced building of more than 40 Nomadic schools in the 21 local government areas of the state.
She said that the state government would strengthen security and make education accessible to all the children in the state.
“The work has commenced as we have already begun provision of some social amenities in some Fulani settlements.
“We had interacted with them in all the communities and some already provided lands for us,’’ Mrs Hammani said.
Prof. Muhammad Bunza of Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, also expressed displeasure about the way and manner parents had continued to send their children to Almajiri schools without proper care.
He, nonetheless, commended the state government for placing priority on Almajiri system in the state.
Mr Bunza urged the well-to-do and corporate organisations to assist the government in ensuring the reformation of the Almajiri system.
Similarly, Muhammad Sodangi, in Karu Gaje of Kalgo Local Government Area, commended the founder and state government for making life easy and education accessible to their wards.
“Our women were first trained on how to do yoghurt with the condensed milk and they have become self-reliant.
“This really encouraged us to allow our children to go to schools because we have no need now to send our wards to rear our cattle as we have financial support from our wives,’’ he said.
Mr Sodangi and other concerned citizens of the state, therefore, called on the well-to-do and non-governmental organisations to emulate the foundation by providing skill training to women for development.