Home / Education / Sokoto govt, UNICEF flag off entrepreneurship training for 4,700 almajiri, adolescent girls

Sokoto govt, UNICEF flag off entrepreneurship training for 4,700 almajiri, adolescent girls

Gov. Ahmad Aliyu of Sokoto State

BY ANKELI EMMNAUEL, Sokoto

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) with funding from Eleva Foundation, in collaboration with the Sokoto State Arabic and Islamic Education Commission and the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Saturday flagged off an entrepreneurship skills acquisition programme for 4,700 almajiri and adolescent girls in Sokoto State.

The entrepreneurship programme, according to officials of the Arabic Commission, is targeted at 3,000 almajiri and 1,700 out-of-school adolescent girls outside of family care in eight local government areas of Sokoto state.

Addressing participants at the Sultan Maccido Institute of Quranic and Islamic Studies, Sokoto State Governor, Ahmed Aliyu commended UNICEF and other donor agencies for being reliable allies in the journey of ensuring a prosperous Sokoto State.

The governor, who was represented by the State Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Honourable Tukur Alkali, said the state is committed to ensuring implantation of  initiatives capable of promoting self-reliance.

According to him, to guarantee self reliance, vocational training and skills acquisition must be considered as the surest panacea for reducing not only unemployment but tackling the out-of-school syndrome and the street begging menace.

In her opening remarks, Sokoto UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Maryam Darwesh, reemphasized that what they are doing is in fulfillment of another segment of the multi sectoral strategic plan that will help almajiri and adolescent girls to be employable and become dependable assets to their respective communities.

Darwesh further assured that UNICEF would continue to partner agencies and the State government to ensure the success of the notable project as well as sustain initiatives of provision of startup materials and tools when the children graduate from their various skills training.

“This meeting is unique as it will hopefully consolidate a journey that commenced in 2021 with the validation of data of about 249, 523 almajiri and out-of-school adolescent girls in Sokoto State who are out of family care,” Darwash assured.

Giving his royal blessings to the programme, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, (NSCIA), Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar,  represented by the Secretary of the Sultanate Council on Religious Affairs, Professor Sambo Wali-Junaid,  said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by UNICEF and the State government that gave birth to the programme was a welcome development.

According to the Sultan, getting children and adolescent girls back to school and training almajiri in skills to be self reliant are very crucial to curbing the problem of street begging and significantly reduce vulnerability.

The Sultan reaffirmed that both education and entrepreneurship remained the best tools for human capital development and urged the stakeholders to live up to expectations.

On her part, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Barrister, A’isha Dantsoho, said the vocational training would be followed up by rigorous training and capacity building for various stakeholders in the project.

According to her,  the partnership with UNICEF had six thematic areas and that eight local government areas were selected for the pilot programme to cover at least 8,550 out-of-school adolescent girls and 8,456 almajiris under the first phase.

Explaining further, Dantsoho said these lucky adolescent girls would in addition to formal education, receive vocational training and business skills, health, livelihoods, hygiene, sanitation and other services.

While noting that the women Affairs ministry would handle the adolescents girls’ programme, Dantsoho disclosed that the Arabic and Islamic Education Commission would be responsible for the integration of these almajiri children into formal education.

Collaborating her position, the Executive Secretary, Arabic and Islamic Education Commission, Alhaji Alitine Dandin-Mahe, said the agencies were working towards improving the lives of almajiri and other vulnerable persons in the state.

Dandin-Mahe noted that the programme started in 2020 and that different activities such as strengthening the establishment of the commission, and building their capacity, amongst others, were done in addition to the design of a 10-year work plan for mainstreaming of almajiris into formal education and digitalization in the state.

According to him, 717, 526 students were captured in 5,122 almajiri and 1,826 Islamiyya schools in September 2021 followed by
a 2-year multi- sectoral action plan designed to support almajiri, out-of-school children and adolescent girls in the state.

Continuing, Dandin Mahe said, 113, 208 almajiri and 136,315 out- of-school adolescent girls were validated and documented for case management services in the data captured.

This he said, was in addition to 100 almajiri school teachers who were trained by UNICEF on enhanced child safe guiding policy, alternative caregivers’ techniques and other initiatives.

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