Worried by the menace of Almajiri children roaming the streets and begging for alms, Nasarawa State Government has taken steps to establish boarding schools in which to enroll them to acquire Islamic, functional and qualitative formal education.
There are several hundreds of Almajiri children between the age of seven and 10 years in Nasarawa State roaming the streets, who were said to have been allegedly brought to the state by their parents from far Northern states to the Mallams, in search of Islamic knowledge.
Meanwhile, the Bilingual Education Programme (BEP), an Islamic Development Bank funded programme with headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is taken steps to build three boarding schools in each of the three senatorial district of the state to enroll the Almajiri children.
Under the programme, which will take the children off the streets, they will be equipped with the ability and skills to speak, write English language fluently, interpret Arabic, and Mathematics.
The programme, according to the state, which described the menace of Alimajiri as a matter of public concern, is aimed at improving the socio-economic of the country through provision of quality basic education geared towards attaining the Universal Basic Education with emphasis on a strategy to mop up the Almajiris from the streets and integrate them into the mainstream of the education system.
The state Bilingual Education Programme Project Manager, Hajiya Zainab Magaji, said: “The children will be equipped with the ability to speak, write, interpret Arabic and English language fluently.”
Hajiya Magaji explained this during a meeting with Chairmen/Alarama of the Association of Tsangaya (Almajiris) held at the Conference Hall of the Project Management Unit (PMU) in Lafia, the state capital.
According to her, Nasarawa State, which is leading the other nine states – Borno, Adamawa, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Niger and Osun States – in the implementation of the Bilingual Education Programme and included in the framework agreement signed on the March 15, 2019 between the Federal Government and the Islamic Development Bank in Abuja, will enroll over 300 Almajiri children in the schools.
She further disclosed that the financier of the project would build and equip the boarding schools as well as provide the manpower, while state and other stakeholders would be responsible for the feeding and other welfare needs of the children.
“The main objective of the bilingual education programme is to take the Almajiris off the streets and integrate them into the mainstream of the education system, which will equip with the ability to speak, write, interpret Arabic and English language fluently,” she added.
Hajiya Magaji, therefore, called on stakeholders to assist in ensuring the success of the programme in the state, even as she called on well-meaning individuals, philanthropists and corporate organisations to support the programme.
Also speaking during the meeting, Chairmen of Almajiri Schools in the state, Muhammad Ali, who decried the alarming influx of Almajiris into the state, said there was no verse in the Holy Quran that encouraged street begging, and called for an end to the trend.
The representative of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Umar said Almajiri children were often used as tools for crime, and called on stakeholders to put hands on deck to remedy the situation.
Other speakers at the meeting, including Shuaibu Galadima; Hajiya Fatima Iyimoga; the President of the state chapter of the National Council of Women Societies, Hajiya Aisha Idoma and Director, Child Development in the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Yomi Adagazu, condemned street begging and called on parents to be more responsive to the welfare and needs of their children.
Mrs. Adagazu, who frowned at street begging, however, warned that the ministry would not hesitate to evoke the Child Rights Law to apprehend any child begging on the streets for whatever guise and advised parents to take responsibility for their children seriously.
Some of the activities penciled down in order to achieve success of the programme include enrollment of Almajiris in school, mapping exercise for the Almajiri schools, Baseline survey and organising meetings, advocacy visits and awareness creation, using mass media among other activities.