By Femi Ogunshola
A Bill seeking to establish National Commission for Almajiri Education and out of school children on Wednesday scaled second reading at the House of Representatives.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Shehu Kakale (PDP-Sokoto) and other 18 others at plenary.
Speaking, Kakale said that the bill titled: “Bill for an Act to Establish National Commission for Almajiri Education and out of School Children was aimed at providing a multimodal system of education to tackle illiteracy, develop skill acquisition and entrepreneurship programmes to prevent youths’ poverty, delinquency and destitution in Nigeria.
Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker, in his contribution, commended the sponsor, adding that education had been the priority of the 9th House in its legislative agenda.
“The sponsor and I worked very closely last year on the issue of Almajiri children. I commend him for being proactive anything that has to do with education in this 9th assembly we have been very proactive.
“Education has been a priority in our legislative agenda. We have just concluded a two day summit on tertiary education; we hope that at the end of the day, we will make recommendations,” he said.
Rep. Ossai Ossai (PDP-Delta) said that the bill was discriminatory in nature and that the proposed commission should be made to have a gestation period.
“You are aware that 12 years ago, the presidency embarked on making sure that the Almajiri children were integrated into the educational sector.
“I agree with this bill but in agreeing with it, they are making an intervention and it should have gestation period like saying this programme will last from 10 to 15 years,” he said.
He said If the commission was established to run like that it would be discriminatory in nature, adding that every child was entitled to education.
“This particular programme is an interventionist to bridge the gap, so if it’s an intervention to bridge the gap it supposed to have a timeline; the laws are made in that way,” he said.
Rep. Dachung Bagos (PDP- Plateau) called for penalties for those who failed to carry out their duty once the commission was established.
“This is at the heart beat of the project the PDP administration started during the time of former President Goodluck Jonathan because of the importance of the Almajiri and out of school children.
“It is a bill we support totally, but ours is that once this is established the people that are supposed to do their work in the bill should be able to spell out actual punishment for those that are supposed to carry out that duty,” he said
In response, the Deputy Speaker, Rep. Idris Wase who presided over plenary, said the bill was not limited to Almajiri pupils but every out of school children in Nigeria.
“I want you to look at the long title of the bill. It says Almajiri and out of school children, which we have in all parts of Nigeria.
“It is not only for the Almajiri, it will also take care of our brothers that are always in the street,” he said.
The Bill was thereafter put to a voice vote by the Deputy Speaker and it was passed and referred to the House Committee on Basic Education and Services.(NAN)