Ahmed Modibbo, a former executive secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), says northern state governors frustrated the integration of the Almajiri school system with basic education.
The administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan reportedly spent about N15 billion on the construction of more than 100 model schools in the north to reduce the number of children roaming the streets in the region.
But the schools are said to be rotting away as they have not been put to use since they were constructed years ago.
Speaking at a lecture with the theme, ‘Before the ban on the Almajiri system of education in Nigeria’, organised by the Centre for Historical Documentation and Research of Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU), Zaria, which was held in Kaduna, Modibbo said the schools were abandoned by northern governors because they wanted to be given cash to construct them.
“The state governors left the schools unoccupied, abandoned and vandalised because most state governments refused to even take them over, not to talk of fulfilling their own obligations contained in the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the federal government,” Modibbo said.
“The state governments were not happy with the decision of the federal government to undertake the project through UBEC and the Eduction Tax Fund (ETF), as they wanted the money to be given to them so that they could nominate contractors for the project.
Modibbo, a professor of history, said the Almajiri system failed when the colonial administration stopped giving support to Islamic education in 1922 following the establishment of the first teacher training college in Katsina.
He said all efforts to address the challenges plaguing the Islamic system of education in Nigeria have failed owing to northern political leaders who “are squarely responsible for the failure to have a fully integrated Quranic system of education with basic education”.
However, the former executive secretary of UBEC expressed the hope that with the comprehensive blueprint and draft plan of action introduced by the commission in 2017, the implementation of the Almajiri Quranic education project will succeed.
He also called for strict implementation of the UBE act, introduction of school time marshals and catering for the welfare of the children.
He asked that the National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) be allowed to monitor the utilisation of federal funds released to states and other agencies of government for the implementation of basic education.