Sokoto, UNICEF Kick Off Entrepreneurship Training For 4,700 Almajiri, Adolescent Girls

Sokoto State Governor, Ahmed Aliyu
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The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) with funding from Eleva Foundation in collaboration with Sokoto State Arabic and Islamic Education Commision and the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Saturday flagged off an entrepreneurship skills acquisition programe for 4,700 l 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 Sulan Maccido Institute of Quranic and Islamic Studies, Sokoto State Governor, Ahmed Aliyu commended UNICEF and other donor agencies for being reliable ally 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 they are committed to ensuring implantation of  initiatives capable of promoting self-reliance. 

According to him, to guarantee self reliance, then vocational training and skills must be considered as the surest panacea of reducing not only unemployment but tackling out-of-school and 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 amajiri 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 State government in ensuring 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 Coucil 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. 

Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III

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

This, 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 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 Ministryinistry 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.

Corroborating 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, who noted that the programme started in 2020 and 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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