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Poor school enrolment: A corps member’s respite for Ngamdu residents

Many reluctant parents who also “hate” formal schools with a passion, equally summoned courage and listened to lectures delivered by some stakeholders on the positive…

Many reluctant parents who also “hate” formal schools with a passion, equally summoned courage and listened to lectures delivered by some stakeholders on the positive impact of education and many of them showed positive disposition towards embracing change.

“If they (probably organisers of the event) would give me free books and uniform, I would convince my father to allow me combine Islamiyya school and Boko,” Baana Jidum, a 12-year old Kanuri boy whispered to his friend, Bakura as they watched with interest, the education enlightenment programme taking place at the traditional ruler’s palace in Ngamdu.

“I too would be glad to go to school because I heard the district head saying that I would get a certificate which will qualify me to get a job and would be collecting salary. He also said with formal education, I would also be qualified to become the governor of Borno State,” Bakura responded with admiration.

That was how the event started, a simple gathering meant to encourage learning and scholarship but suddenly turned to opinion moulder and motivator as many children, some walking in search of water, others hawking, all shelved their mission and watched as the event unfolded.

It was a mammoth crowd because the Community Development Service (CDS) of Alkali who has just about one month to complete his NYSC at the Government Secondary School, Ngamdu had attracted many people including government functionaries, traditional rulers, and officials of the NYSC from Maiduguri including people of the community and indigent Tsangaya (Islamiyya School) among others.

One thousand two hundred free exercise books, 100 pencils and 100 biros were distributed to pupils of Alhajiri Primary School, Ngamdu and those of the secondary school in the area courtesy of the youth corps member who recounted his love for educational development especially in Borno where he is doing his NYSC and Yobe, his native State.

Apart from the instructional materials distributed, dignitaries at the event equally unveiled an educational enlightenment signboard which was built by the corps member using concrete blocks and cement and mounted at the heart of Ngamdu village.

In the paper titled, “Education is a right not a privilege,” which he presented at the event, Alkali Abdulrahman,  said every child is entitled to education because it is a fundamental human right and was quick to add that certain religious beliefs, culture and poverty, especially in the northern parts of Nigeria has continued to trail the people.

While trying to convince and encourage parents who have so much confidence in the Tsangaya school system alone to also allow their children to acquire formal education, Alkali, with the tone of a preacher said, “education enhances life; it ends the generational circle of extreme poverty and diseases and provides a foundation for sustainable development.”

According to him, “education gives your child the knowledge and skills that will give room for self sustenance and for the development of the society in general. It gives your child a sense of belonging, respect for elders and those in positions of authority.”

Alkali added that education shapeds the children’s behaviour to a better one that respects culture and traditions and also developes the attitude of the child to be free from any form of drug abuse and violence.

It is generally believed that many parents, especially in Borno and Yobe States, have serious apathy against formal education even as they attached a lot of interest to Qur’anic education through the Tsangaya system in which children are left at the mercy of a cleric who takes them to other lands in search of knowledge.

“My dream is to complement the efforts of the Borno State government which is trying to integrate the Tsangaya and the formal school system. I also hope to do same when I get back to Yobe after my NYSC,” Alkali said.

While speaking to the benefiting students and pupils, the corps member said the society that has no knowledgeable people would remain porous to societal ills including drug abuse, poor health facilities, absence of electricity and pipe borne water, poverty and exploitation of children through street begging and hawking.

According to him, “the society that has educated people would have good hospitals and doctors, good road networks, potable water, schools, sound economy, peace and democracy.”

He equally gave possible solutions to the problems affecting education delivery service which if properly addressed, the society would prosper.

These, according to him, include: enlightenment campaigns on the value of education, donation of books, buildings and other instructional materials by wealthy individuals, formation of education foundations in rural areas to complement efforts of governments and special attention to rural schools.

He equally posited that the Universal Basic Education Commission should look for ways to “professionally integrate Qur’anic schools with formal schools without injuring the feelings and sensibilities of such schools.”

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Dr Bukar Usman, who gave glowing tributes to the youth corps member, said enlightenment was, “the key word” that would conquer illiteracy. He also encouraged parents in Ngamdu and adjoining villages to embrace formal education.

The Borno State coordinator of the NYSC, Alhaji Habibu Kurawa, described the Community Development Work of Alkali including donation of books, pencils, biros and educational signboard as well as the lecture he delivered as “positive intervention.”

Represented by the Zonal Inspector of the Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, Mr Peter Sodiga, the coordinator said, “the NYSC is happy to be associated with you because you have made an indelible mark in the lives of the people of the community you are serving. We are wishing you well.”

The district head of Ngamdu, Alhaji Zanna Arjinoma, described the event as a “developmental campaign” and commended the single handed contribution of the youth corps member and called on others to emulate him.

A native of Yobe State, Alkali was born in 1984 and had his primary and secondary education in parts of Yobe before he bagged a Bachelor of Technology (B. Tech) degree in Business Management from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi.

Though many laud him, Alkali believes his intervention in Ngamdu was the tip of the iceberg. “My ambition in life is to become an academic. I also hope to introduce an education foundation which will encourage people in the rural areas to go to school,” he said.

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