President Goodluck Jonathan will on Saturday keep his promise to the northern poor as he commissions Amajiri Model Schools constructed by his administration to cater for the out-of-school children in the northern region and other parts of the country where they are domiciled.
A statement by Simeon Nwakaudu, Special Assistant (Media) to the Supervising Minister of Education noted that the President will be represented at the symbolic commissioning holding at the Almjiri Model School at Sade Darazo LGA, Bauchi State by the Vice President Namadi Sambo.
The project, the statement noted, is one of the key strategies of President Goodluck Jonathan to empower the northern poor and uneducated with relevant knowledge and entrepreneurial skills to compete in a globalised world.
Since taking over the leadership of the country, the Jonathan administration commenced the construction of 124 Almajiri Model Schools in parts of the north and other parts of the country where the itinerant Almajiri are found.
The Universal Basic Education is constructing 89 of these schools, out of which 64 have been fully completed and furnished with learning taking place, while the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, constructed 35 of these schools, which were symbolically commissioned by President Jonathan in Sokoto last year.
The statement added that the Saturday commissioning of the Almajiri schools will be for the 64 schools constructed by UBEC.
The schools are located at: Adamawa, Borno, Gombe, Bauchi, Yobe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Oyo, Osun, Lagos, Ondo, Ekiti, Edo, Rivers, Kogi, Niger, Katsina, Taraba and Nasarawa States.
Some of the schools were constructed in parts of the South-West and South South due to the influx of Almajiri children into these areas from the north, the statement explained.
Facilities at the Almajiri Model Schools include; classrooms, administrative blocks, hostels, staff quarters, Mallams residences and Mosques.
The schools are specifically designed to cater for the western education needs of the children, whilst the Mallams who are resident on campus still provide them with Quranic knowledge.
The schools will also be handed over the state governments who are to pay the teachers, while the Federal Government supplies the children with uniforms and textbooks. A memorandum has been signed to this effect.
The statement noted that the Jonathan administration started tackling the Almajiri challenge with urgency because from UNESCO figures, Almajiris constitute over 9million in the 10.5million out of school children in Nigeria.
Incidentally, the remaining 1million still have a large chunk from the north-east, north-central and north-west. These are girl-children barred from enrolling in schools. The statement informed that the Jonathan administration has also completed the construction of girl-child Model schools in 16 States of the country, mostly in the north.
Expected at the commissioning are governors, education commissioners, traditional rulers and education stakeholders in Northern Nigeria.
This is the first time any administration at the Federal level has taken comprehensive steps to tackle the education challenges facing the northern poor.