Education Minister drafts a memorandum for an Arabic and Islamic studies board. He got this one horribly wrong
According to the story, Minister of Education, Alhaji Adamu Adamu has put together a plan to resuscitate the defunct Northern Nigeria Board for Arabic and Islamic Studies,NBAIS, using funds from the federation account.
The Vanguard adds chillingly: "To get the board back into life, the Minister had forwarded a Memorandum to the Federal Executive Council, FEC, seeking a special approval for a waiver to re-establish the National Board for Arabic and Islamic Studies as a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Education".
Adamu has been one of the ghost ministers in the Buhari cabinet. And then he emerges from his ghost mode with this?
Adamu's proposal is entitled Approval for a waiver for the establishment of the National Board for Arabic and Islamic Studies as a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Education.
The Minister says his Arabic school and Islamic centres will provide a platform for regulating Islamic educational contents that are sound, appropriate and geared towards the acquisition of positive values for moral, human and national development.
On the surface, it sounds like a pretty decent proposal.
Available statistics from the examination bodies and the education authorities indicate that Northern Nigeria lags behind the rest of the country academically.
According to the president of the Bayero University Kano (BUK) Alumni Association, Dattijo Usman; “Recent statistics have shown that 11 million children are not in school. The trend is increasing because out of this figure, 90 per cent (about 9.9 million) of them come from the North".
Adamu's new parastatal will provide another avenue for Northern Nigeria to attain some form of education that is at par with those of its Southern peers.
But that's exactly where the problem lies.
This is yet another parastatal at a time Nigeria should be reducing the number of parastatals and boards in its civil service.
This will be run with taxpayer funds at a time the government is borrowing to fund its budget; at a time when civil servants are owed backlog in salaries; at a time Nigerians are complaining about rising overheads in running the federal bureaucracy; at a time when States are getting bailed out every other month.
Adamu's brand new parastatal arrives in a recession--at a time we can't afford one.
NBAIS was formally established in 1959 and was abandoned soon after. Why should we resuscitate it in 2016?
There are so many federal government universities and institutions that should address the issue of Islamic and Arabic education in the North of Nigeria or elsewhere in the country.
There are also special religious schools in the North of Nigeria that can address the educational imbalance and get the region up to speed.
The issue isn't setting up these institutions--the issue is seeing that there live up to the goals and ideals for which there were set up.
The timing of the proposal couldn't have been more wrong. Here's one prime example of misplaced priority.
Adamu's memorandum will be tendered before the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for possible approval in the days ahead.
The Minister should be told in clear terms to focus on strengthening existing education parastatals and boards across the country.
We simply can't afford new ones at this time.