By Mahmud Nasir Jafar
While the at-risk children program, known simply as ARC-P, aims to create an enabling environment for vulnerable and out-of-school children in Nigeria, it is also charged with the challenge of reprogramming the minds of its children. targets and engage with stakeholders. . An initiative of the government led by Buhari under the supervision of the office of the vice president, the ARC-P proposes to restructure the Almajiri system, to educate and train vulnerable children and to provide them with a future where they will compete fairly with the children. advantaged children across the country.
In doing so, the program has partnered with the MacArthur Foundation and the Center for Democratic Development, Research and Training (CEDDERT) to conduct effective awareness and awareness campaigns prior to the implementation of the solutions designed through the Nigeria, in particular the northern region which represents the gross abuse of Almajiri’s practices.
What ARC-P intends to accomplish is based on a policy framework that requires extensive social engineering to be implemented. The Almajiri education system was once a glorious aspect of the Islamic education system in the North, and over the years the system flourished due to the people’s attachment to Islamic education and distrust of the model of Western education introduced by British colonialism. The failure of past policies formulated to control the excesses of the Almajiri system has been attributed to a lack of stakeholder confidence and insufficient awareness campaigns for policy makers.
ARC-P’s partnership with the MacArthur Foundation and CEDDERT is therefore inspired by the need to inform and gain the confidence of political decision-makers in the areas of intervention proposed. It is not enough to come up with fanciful ideas to reform the Almajiri system, the stakeholders remain the engine of the program, and the partnership therefore aims to ensure the sustainability and success of the proposed reforms.
In the 1970s, when the military government launched the Universal Primary Education Program (UPE) to impose free primary education across the country, it also took over several schools in Almajiri and formed a partnership to have their programs of Islamic education are integrated into secular curricula. As promising as this initiative was, it lacked monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to track and enforce implementation and convincing social engineering to engage stakeholders. The UPE did not meet its target and the Almajiri schools targeted by the program were abandoned and the government’s promises of funding and modernization were not kept.
Such a story of past political setbacks requires partnering with the MacArthur Foundation and CEDDERT to deliver on stakeholder commitments in critical states and present to stakeholders the goals of ARC-P, and how this does not hinder l acquisition of Islamic education while providing opportunities for children at risk. be formally educated and empowered to function in the organized labor market.
Such advocacy aimed at transforming the attitudes, perceptions and behavior of stakeholders, especially caregivers and caregivers of children at risk, aims to ensure that caregivers prevent children from falling out of family care and also guide their reintegration into their communities. Strategic stakeholder engagement is also strengthened through awareness raising campaign and provision of livelihoods to engage stakeholders while supporting state and local authorities to establish social and welfare services and social protection officers.
With the MacArthur Foundation and CEDDERT, ARC-P engaged in the necessary stakeholder engagement on Almajiri reforms in northern Nigeria and organized sessions for the states of Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto , Kebbi, Gombe and Borno. By identifying the wisdom of engaging with religious and traditional leaders as key implementation and monitoring partners, the program eliminated the possibility of rebellion and suspicion on the part of the communities hosting the targeted Almajiri schools. for strategic reforms.
Although the program is a brainchild of the federal government and led by the President’s Special Advisor on Social Investment, Hajiya Maryam Uwais of the Vice President’s Office, it is structured to allow state and local governments to take charge. and ensure implementation. . The ARC-P has signed memoranda of understanding with state governments that have committed to implementing program plans and helping to build the capacity of relevant agencies at the federal, state and LGA levels, including the federal team of ARC-P and master trainers. The program is also structured to promote accountability and transparency in operations and funding.
Indeed, ARC-P is a timely intervention in a country with an estimated 13 million children out of school, and with the majority of them left at the mercy of underutilized and poorly structured Almajiri schools. With mass poverty that has spread across the country over the past decades, the system has become overburdened as more parents send young children to school and have no way to support them financially. the children. Unfortunately, these children never had the opportunity to attend conventional schools and therefore suffered from their lack of employable skills and education afterwards.
In the areas of operations and funding of the initiatives designed, ARC-P is supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Wary of the drug epidemic across the country, the program also benefits the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to prevent abuse. of drugs among beneficiaries. But, to achieve this, massive advocacy is necessary to reassure all stakeholders of the sincerity of the objective that propels this intervention.
Thus, this partnership to drive massive social engineering across targeted states for the implementation of child protection and empowerment programs designed by ARC-P is a brilliant mastery of community psychology. Whether it is basic literacy and numeracy or entrepreneurship, digital skills or sports, a drastic intervention to address the vulnerability of Nigerian children is long overdue and ARC-P is a long-awaited glimmer of hope.
Mr. Jafar, Public Affairs Analyst, writes from ALD Estate, Gwarimpa, Abuja.
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