A former President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has disclosed that he embarked on the Almajiri schools programme in the North while he was in office to infused western education curriculum into Islamic education to make the pupils employable and to check insecurity.
Jonathan stated this Monday while delivering a keynote address at the maiden Bayelsa State Education Summit, themed ‘Optimizing the Delivery, Performance and Sustainability of Outcomes in the Education Sector’, in Yenagoa, the state capital.
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He said: “When I was the vice president, I was discussing with one of my technical assistants from Anambra State about the crisis in the North and said we must frame how we will tackle it.
“Some group of young boys appears not to have future and we cannot allow the system to remain like that so that we don’t have crisis tomorrow.
“We went around the North, discussed with the clerics who teach the boys under trees and makeshift buildings, we also discussed with the emirs and so on.
“We identified a group of boys who are Muslims and for most Muslims, when you understand the Qur’an it is like you are more than a professor of law and through the Almajiri programme, they understand the Qur’an and you cannot underrate them.
“Some of them can even memorize the Qur’an as voluminous as the Qur’an is, and for someone to memorize the Qur’an and you say that person is not educated, you are not telling the truth.
“They (Almajirai) felt that they were educated but the society still rejected them, that even their local government council cannot employ them even as messengers because they don’t have any element of Western education attached to the Quranic education.
“That is why the federal government said we must assist the states, that this young people must be encouraged to study Islamic education but in addition to the Islamic education we are not going to remove anything from it, they should also take some parts of Western education, so that when they finished at that level they can go on to study other things like Engineering, Medicine.
“That was what motivated us to go into Almajiri education,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jonathan called for greater attention to Information Communication Technology (ICT), saying ICT education is gradually phasing out other disciplines.
Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri, while declaring the summit open, stressed the need for a central language and urged the summit to look at all the missing links and explore avenues for the private sector to partner with government in implementing its vision for education.
Diri also called on international oil companies to provide special scholarships for children from oil-producing communities as part of their corporate social responsibility in addition to the provision of basic social amenities.