Education stakeholders on Monday called on the Federal Government to ensure the integration and sustainability of the schools newly introduced for the Almajiris in the country.
Almajiris are street children under the Islamic setup, especially in the Northern part of Nigeria.
President Goodluck Jonathan had on April 10 commissioned the Tsangaya Model Boarding Primary School in Sokoto State, aimed at giving the Almajiris equal access to basic education.
The school, which would integrate Islamic and conventional education, is the first to be entirely dedicated to the education of the Almajiris.
Thirty-five more of such schools are to be built in all the northern states of the country by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).
The Vice Chancellor, Covenant University, Ota in Ogun, Prof. Aize Obayan, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in an interview in Lagos that the move was timely and a welcome development.
``I think what the president has just done in developing education in that sector is quite commendable and portends education on wheels.
``Wherever one finds himself or herself, regardless of social standing, age, location, you are able to get basic education as it is not to the preserve of just a few people,`` Obayan said.
She said that with the development, the education system which had suffered neglect in the past was on the wheels and ready to fly.
The Vice-Chancellor, however, said that the introduction of such schools should not be limited to the northern states, to avoid painting a picture that such problems were limited to only that part of the country.
She said that any such move which seemed to be exclusive, took away the Nigerian flavour and called for caution to avoid misinterpretation..
Also speaking, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Lagos chapter, Mr Samson Kayode, called for sustainability of the scheme to accelerate national development.
``It is a welcome development. I hope it will be sustained to keep the children off the streets.
``I am optimistic that if these children should get the desired education, they will be great assets to the nation,” he told NAN.
Dr Olubunmi Ajibade, Senior Lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, said that the initiative was a major step in the right direction, if only its sustainability was assured.
Ajibade said that the school would engage the Almajiris positively and thereby reduce the chances of some privileged few, using them for unwholesome activities.
``I feel the president should be commended for this major breakthrough in introducing this system of education especially in the north.
``Like we know, any mind that is not educated is a wasted mind.
``It is only usual for people to behave normally when the mind is well trained and well educated and in this regard, the tendency of using them for any anti-social activities would no longer be there,” he said.
NAN recalls that Jonathan had said that the introduction of the school would provide a conducive atmosphere for the Almajiris to become productive and contribute their quota to national development.
Statistics had shown that about 9.5 million children across the country are outside the conventional school system, with the North-West geo-political zone accounting for about five million. (NAN)