Northern states’ ban of almajiri system

Northern states’ ban of almajiri system

Northern states’ ban of almajiri system

EXISTENTIAL realities have finally dawned on northern governors with the decision to ban the almajiri system in their respective states. At a recent meeting, the 19 Northern state governors unanimously resolved to send the almajiris to their parents or states of origin as COVID-19 bares its murderous fangs across the federation. More instructive is their avowal not to allow the long discredited tradition to continue because of its domino effects of perpetuating poverty, illiteracy, insecurity and social disorder.

The move, a welcome development, is long overdue. As Atiku Bagudu, the Governor of Kebbi State, observed, “This is for the common good of the states and Nigeria in general.”

Almajiris are less privileged children in many states in the North, unleashed on the streets by their parents and guardians, clad in rags with begging bowls. These are purported pupils of Koranic schools, minors released by their families. In some cases, some criss-cross transnational borders, underscored by the almajiris deported to Niger Republic. Only irresponsible parenting exposes children to such a vagrant and dangerous way of life. This abuse ruins these lives forever.

The environment under which they live is best illustrated by the State Commissioner for Education, Muhammad Sanusi-Kiru: “Where these children were living before the evacuation was worrisome, because there were no adequate conveniences, shelter and other hygienic facilities. At some of the Tsangaya schools, you will find that over 3,000 almajiri children live in a small apartment without proper care, hygiene and other necessary needs.”

While the governors’ decision ticks all the right boxes, optimism, however should be cautious as efforts in the past, at both state and federal levels to obliterate the system, failed woefully. In 2012 for instance, State under Musa Kwankwaso’s government constituted a committee whose report was considered as a magic bullet. While receiving the report, the then governor promised to share the strategies with other governors “so that together we can kick-start and solve the prevailing almajiri menace. We are ready in to tackle the almajiri menace headlong.”

If the plan had been faithfully implemented, the North would not be bogged by the same plague in 2020. The Universal Basic Education Act 2004 birthed to address anomalies such as this, with its provision of a compulsory and free basic education for six years and minimum three years of junior secondary schooling. Again, the Child Rights Act, another policy instrument, stipulates that a Nigerian child shall be in school up to the secondary level.

Under the UBE scheme, funds are made available to states by the Federal Government to improve their basic education, so long as they provide counterpart funding and observe all accountability provisos. But many of the Northern governors since 1999, whose states are the worst educationally, loot the UBE funds when they access them. Others have not bothered to satisfy the requirements to leverage this critical support. It is for this reason that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), said that where the menace persists it “means the state governments are not doing their job.” He maintained that tackling it is strictly the responsibility of states

 

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