Adamu On Northern Nigeria Education

Northern Nigeria Education

Last week, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, stated what many of his northern elite have always known but have chosen to ignore, when he lamented that the present educational backwardness in the Northern region was caused by people of the region.

He spoke in Abuja at the public presentation of the Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS) Book 1 series for universities and a book in his honour.

He said the North is in self-imposed educational backwardness because the interest of the North is Islam, and Islam is the greatest promulgator of knowledge.

Adamu said while the first two universities in the world were established by Muslim women, “here, people are using Islam to keep women at home. I think it does not make sense.”

Adamu commended the National Universities Commission for its drive in ensuring the springing up of more private universities in Nigeria.

He expressed delight that out of the 37 new private universities approved by the Federal Executive Council last week, large numbers of them were situated in the North.

“We must continue to ensure graduates from Nigeria universities are equipped with needed skills, knowledge and expertise in order to succeed in the 21st century,” he said.

Adamu’s lamentation is not new as these same statements have been made severally in the past by the same elite who have continued to exploit these unfortunate populations of people in the region. They are exploited and used to political advantage in the name of religion while sending their own children to Ivy League institutions abroad.

The subjugation of the people in the name of religion is what has continued to increase the population of out of school children in the north. The same elite have used religion and tribe to make political capital and are not in any hurry to address the problem.

When under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, Ahmed Yerima, former governor of Zamfara introduced Sharia legal jurisprudence in the north, Obasanjo rightly dismissed the move for what it was; politically-motivated.

We keep hearing of the north being educationally disadvantaged almost forever and what does it take to provide mass education for the people if the political will to do that is there?

As a beneficiary of the Obafemi Awolowo free-education policy for the south west, I am a witness of what it means for political office holders to walk their talk. Awolowo, through the late Alhaji Lateef Jakande in Lagos and the rest of the south west, provided free education for millions of children whose parents would not have been able to provide education for their children.

While Awolowo was lifting his people, taking them off the streets through education, the political elite in the north were satisfied seeing millions of their youth on the streets as almajiri.

This, more than anything else, provided and still provides idle hands for recruitment as insurgents, bandits and into other forms of criminality in the north. With the educational backwardness at the time came insurgency openly supported by the elite at the early stage just to sabotage the government of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Boko Haram insurgency is an insurrection against western education and they have done everything to discourage education by attacking schools and kidnapping school children across the north. The elite were muted because it served their purpose of portraying Jonathan as lame duck president.

In 2021 alone, there were 25 terrorist attacks on schools. A total of 1,440 children were abducted, while 16 children were killed. In March 2021, about 618 schools were shut down in Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Niger and Yobe states, over the fear of attack and abduction of pupils and members of staff.

More than 10 million Nigerian children do not have the opportunity to attend school, and that is the highest rate in the world and the bulk of this population is from northern Nigeria.

These same northern elite have held the leadership of this country more than any other part of the country, yet there is no deliberate and conscious effort to improve this problem. Efforts by Jonathan to provide education for thousands of almajiri and nomadic children were scuttled by these same northern elite.

Their only approach has been entrenching plots with debilitating and retrogressive policies that are designed to slow down the south in the name of providing equal educational opportunities across the country. One of such policies is the so-called quota system of education that benefits students from the north at the expense of those from the south, irrespective of the social status of parents of these students.

For instance, where is the justice or equity that allows the child of a permanent secretary from the north to score less than 30 marks to gain admission into unity colleges while the child of a carpenter or bus conductor in the south is expected to score 180 to qualify to be admitted?

This is the very reason that there have been clamour for a functional federalism that allows for healthy competition, so that all the regions or federating units that make up the country can grow at their own pace.

The north has the highest population of wealthy politicians of politically-exposed Nigerians in the country, is it not an irony that that region today has the highest population of out of school children?

Northern Nigeria Education

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