Education, they say, is the bedrock of sustainable development in every society. At a social level, education liberates the enslaved and empowers the poor to prosper and blossom. Society rises and falls on the levers of education.Through education, the seemingly weak becomes exceedingly powerful, exuding the courage and savoir-faire to recreate the narrative of civilisation. Just like every other citizen, the Almajiris in the North-East Nigeria also thirst for education.
Amid the backwardness in education in this region, the threat posed by terrorism by insurgents has contributed to high social displacement resulting in a rise in the number of Internally Displaced Persons, pushing more Almajiris to the street. This is definitely not acceptable, especially as we begin to turn the page to a definitive phase in human social evolution.
I have always been worried by the increasing number of almajiris on our streets as well as the attendant threat they pose to social harmony. Coming across a group of these folks struggling to read newspapers at the University of Maiduguri brought tears to my eyes. I knew these ones were willing to learn, to know, to interrogate the society they live in. But somehow, their fate is a chequered one. And just then, memory of an article I read titled: Mining the mind to mine the earth popped up in my head. I imagined the magical powers of knowledge and all that can be made to be just on the strength of it.
Indeed, the greatest injustice that could be committed against these children is to deprive them of education. The human mind is a terrible thing to waste, and so these innocent children should be educated.
One wise man once said: “I hold it as an indisputable fact that the first duty of a state is to see that every child born therein shall be well fed, housed, clothed and educated till he attains the year of discretion.” These are basic rights of our children but we have failed in all these areas.
The failure of education is the root of vandalism, terrorism, lawlessness, poverty and acts of irresponsibility being witnessed in Nigeria today. Of a truth, education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive, easy to govern, but impossible to enslave. Chief Obafemi Awolowo knew this when he introduced free primary education in 1995 in the defunct Western region. Improved quality of life can be achieved through education for all.
The biggest tragedy in Nigeria is not the great waste of natural resources or the looting of treasury by selfish politicians and sundry. The biggest tragedy is the waste of human resources and the continual neglect of our schools. Our children should stop begging in the streets but be educated to advance the cause of the Nigerian project. This and no other is the only way to salvage this country.
- Oluwasheyi, 300-Level Mass Comm., UNIMAID
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