The Governor of Katsina State Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari has warned that the high level of illiteracy prevalent in northern Nigeria may turn into an unmanageable disaster in the near future.
Reviewing activities of armed bandits operating in the area at a news forum in Katsina over the weekend, the Governor said that the rising population of bandits with their families in forests in parts of the north had become worrisome and dangerous, more so because they are lacking in education, whether Islamic or Western.
“We have problems now with the forest people because they have no education of any kind,” the Governor told the forum.
“They do not have Islamic education and they do not have Western education because they have been abandoned in the forest and forgotten.
“So, these are the kind of children who have come up today, fighting us, fighting the society.
“And, if we don’t do more to address it, what will come out of the forest in the next 20 years compared with what we have today will turn out to be like a child’s play.
“Due to lack of education, they only know one pleasure, which is the pleasure of the flesh and that is why they keep on producing children in large numbers.
“I was told this evening that somebody can mobilise over 350 armed men from the forest and we are talking about 350 men without formal schooling, neither Islamic nor Western, and they are all married and have children.”
Masari explained that the development informed the decision of his government to allocate 20 per cent of the state’s 2020 budget to education, apart from funding expected from the Federal Government through the Universal Basic Education Commission.
“That is why we continue to emphasise on foundation education, that is, primary and secondary school education,” he said.
“We believe that once you have sound education at the primary and secondary levels, then you can be able to be a better craftsman.
“Not all of us have to be engineers, doctors and professors but all of us can have what we can do to support our lives, and we will do it better if we have a certain level of education.
“Even an educated vulcaniser will do better than an illiterate vulcaniser. A meat seller who is educated will do better in the trade than somebody who did not go to school.
“So, we have to move in and that is why it is important we restore normalcy in the forest by taking education to them there.”
Masari also listed the Almajiri issue as another source of concern, saying that “in Katsina, we have about 996,000 out-of-school children roaming the streets, according to figures from the United Nations.
“Government is doing everything possible to address the issue of the Almajirai including trying to incorporate them into the school feeding programme.
“Very soon, we will take a census of all the Quranic and Islamic schools across the state.
“We will ensure that any Malam (Islamic teacher) identified to be from Katsina State goes back to his community and do the Islamic teaching there as he doesn’t have to take it from Jibia to Kusada before he teaches children the Koran.”
“We have made a provision in the budget and we are going to work with the UBEC and the Federal Ministry of Education to see how we streamline these koranic schools and introduce some elements of Western education in their curricula.”