Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State on Monday in Minna urged the Federal Government not to ban the Almajiri system of education in the Northern part of the country.
Aliyu made the call when the Senate Committee on Education, led by its chairman, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, paid a courtesy visit to the Government House.
He said that banning the system would make the people to think that it was “an infringement on their culture”.
He said: “The country has to put in place another system that will absorb the Almajiris in the country by properly integrating them into the formal education system.
“In the Senate, I overheard the senators asking the northern governors to ban Almajiri school system.
“You do not ban a culture without putting something in place.
“They must be treated as citizens and not to make it look like a stigma.
“It is not a question of banning it, but it is a matter of what do we do to make sure that they are absorbed into formal school system.
“Many of these children cannot trace their parents because they were scattered all over the northern states and beyond.
“It is something we need to sit down and tackle properly.”
Aliyu noted that the problem of the Almajiri could not be solved by merely building Almajiri schools as currently done by government.
According to Aliyu, efforts must also be made to know their number and make adequate provision for their integration into a formal education system.
He said: “In Niger alone, there are 3,784 Quranic schools with a population of nearly 500,000.
“Some of the pupils in the Quranic schools have grown beyond the primary school age.”
Earlier, Chukwumerije lauded the “giant strides” taken by the state government to “regenerate” its education sector.
He said: “Niger State is one of the states that we can proudly hold up as a leading light in education in the country.
“We must commend the government for that.
“Going by our records, Niger State has paid its counterpart fund up to 2015.”
He, however, noted that 21 states in the country were lagging behind in the payment of their counterpart funds to the Universal Basic Education Programme.
Chukwumerije said the development had been retarding the growth of the education sector in the affected states.