The Senate has taken a critical look at the rising rate of insecurity in Nigeria and therefore advocated reform of Almajiri Islamic education system being operated in most parts of the Northern states that has led to neglect of western education over the years.
The upper legislative chamber called for full compliance of provisions of the Universal Basic Education, UBEC Act, 2004 which made formal education compulsory for school age children from Basic 1 to 9.
It therefore directed relevant authorities to apply the laws as contained in Sections 2 to 5 of the Act against any school age child or his/her parents if found roaming the streets during school hours.
These directives were sequel to a motion by the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe North) in commemoration of Children’s Day celebrated in the country on Monday.
According to him, about 14million children are out of school in Nigeria, majority of whom are knowledge seekers under the Almajiri system, saying the children are potential sources of insecurity for the country in future.
“If drastic actions are not taken by relevant authorities to stem the tide of increased number of out of school children in the country, their population will be more burdensome on the Nigerian state and its economy in the nearest future with attendant serious security problems as already being experienced in some parts of the country.
“We must be brave and courageous enough in finding the way out by reforming the Almajiri system of Quranic education in a way that formal or western education should be factored into it.
“If this 8th National Assembly cannot achieve this, the 9th National Assembly should ensure that relevant provisions in the Universal Basic Education Act 2004 ,are implemented to the letter across the states as regards , free and compulsory education for school age children in Nigeria.” Lawan stressed.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said both school age children refusing to attend school and their parents must be held responsible in ensuring compliance to the Act.
“Relevant provisions of the Act must be applied against defaulters be it, school age children refusing to go to school or their parents encouraging such backward behaviour,” he said.