The out of school children in Nigeria was rated 47% of the global out of school children with more than 10.5 million children. It was also reported that 69% of Nigeria’s out of school children are from the Northern part of the country. Only 45% of girls in the Northern Nigeria attend school.
The Government had so far made some efforts by building Almajiri schools. The intentions are to provide access and equity to basic education, discourage and gradually eliminate itinerant begging. And also to support the emergence of an enabling environment that could facilitate the effective integration of Islamic discipline into basic educational program.
It became obvious to me during my stay in Kano State in the last six months that the framework had failed to completely achieve its aims. Out-of-school children in Northern Nigeria have the highest numbers. Kano State for instance has about 837,479 out of school children according to statistics in public space.
Most of the Almajiri schools built by the federal government are not functioning as initially planned. One of the major reasons for the unremarkable success as gathered from the information in public space is the absence of definite and sustainable arrangement to fund the going concern of the schools.
Neglect of the welfare of the pupils and their Teachers, situating some of the schools within the premises of existing schools and insufficient transformation aim of the Almajiri system are also part of the reasons for the failures.
The recent government’s effort in this regard is the school feeding project which was partly aimed at luring the out-of-school children to attend schools. Still, it has no remarkable impact on the statistics of out of school children in the country.
It is very unfortunate that the Almajiri children can now be categorized in different phases. Very few of them have schools and a poor Mallam teaching them only Quran at a particular time daily after which they all move out to beg for alms. They usually returned to the school to sleep at night. Another category are those that does not have any Mallam teaching them Quran. They usually wander around begging for alms and sleep on the street at night. These children are vulnerable and can easily be manipulated to commit crimes against anyone.
Many argued that most of them are not Nigerian. The fact is that they have become our collective responsibilities after allowing them to cross the borders freely.
Introduction: It is always important to devote more time to have a detailed knowledge of an issue to be able to proffer lasting solutions to the issues that several attempts to solve had previously failed. I have in the last six months been attentive to understand the livelihood of the Almajiri children in Kano state, Nigeria. Subsequently, a conclusion had been made that there is a need to erase the idea of making the Almajiri schools become the usual 6-3-3-4 schools set up we have in Nigeria.
A new system of education should be adopted as part of our educational system in order to accommodate these children. Any approach to solve these menace without considering the fact that they had been subjected to grow differently will not be productive.
The peculiarities of these kids are:
- Lack of shelter
- Lack of parental care
- They are very fearful
- Out of school/vocational skill
They have been exposed to different means of surviving as a human being.
The proposed strategies are categorized in to three stages:
Preliminary Stage: This should begin with a public Television show (preferably Islamic programs) for kids. At this point, the children will willingly gather to watch Television. It is one of the behaviors noticed about the kids. Basic daily needs of these children should be catered for on the street that had long been known as their home. Basic needs such as feeding, clothing and medicals are very paramount at this stage while they gather daily to watch Television.
These kids lack good food and drinking water. Many of them move about with minor wounds on their feet. All of them put on tattered or dirty clothes and many of them walked around barefoot. Hardly would you find any of them with the same pair of slippers. If you do; it will be in a very bad state. Make a drawing of these kids based on these descriptions in your mind even if you have never seen them. It is real!
Several locations across the state should be designated to provide the basic needs for the kids daily. One billionaire can sponsor this conveniently.
Eat, drink, light medical attention and change of clothes/shoes on the street are the first steps. This should be sustained daily until the ‘Mid stage’ is ready.
Out-of-school children in Northern Nigeria most especially, cannot be forcefully chased out of the street. Any attempt to apply force in resolving this issue will chase them to the wrong hands.
The Mid Stage: At this stage, it is required that houses are built to accommodate these kids. The biometric records of these kids are to be taken by those they are already familiar with at the Preliminary stage. They should not be forcefully moved to their new home. Only the kids that are willing should be moved to the new location. These houses should be managed like a boarding school with good facilities. The children should be categorized according to their age range with guardians where necessary while their daily basic needs are also being met accordingly.
The final stage: This stage should be concurrently run with the Mid Stage. The children should be provided with classrooms where they can be taught communication skills, personal hygienic (home training). They should be taught depending on their age range. Some of them are up to about Fifteen years of age. They will need a proper motivation to create a picture of a hopeful life for them. They should all be taught Islamic studies, Arithmetic skills, Financial/business studies and vocational skills. Different types of Sports should also be introduced to them. They should be guided properly to create a professional career growth for them. Only the kids less than Seven years of age may be reshaped after a long while to conform to the usual educational career path.
The implication of the proposed framework on society is enormous and can be further analysed to get the lists out.
Conclusion: I have planned to begin the implementation of this framework personally in partnership with my Hausa friends in Kano State. Television show and provision of some basic needs for these kids will soon begin. It will become very significant when adopted and implemented on a larger scale.