GOVERNOR Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State has raised an alarm that as many as 10m children are involved in begging across northern Nigeria contrary to suggestions that they are actually receiving traditional Almajiri Islamic education.
Nigeria currently has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world, with 10.3m kids not in education. Almost all of them are in northern Nigeria and in the past, these children had eschewed formal schooling in favour of Almajiri education that involved them receiving koranic classes under the tutelage of an imam.
According to Governor Sule, however, these kids are no longer receiving Almajiri schooling but are sent out to beg for alms on a daily basis. He added that his government now plans to address the matter by making education compulsory and punishing parents who refused to send their children to school.
Governor Sule said: “It must be established that it is a crime to abuse a child and it is a crime to bring children to this world and send them into the Almajiri system where you cannot take care of them. Parents must take responsibility.
“You can’t bring children to this world and dump them somewhere and expect somebody else to take care of them, so parents must not shy away from responsibility. That is what we are trying to do.”
He added that in Nasarawa State where the Almajiri system had become a menace and security threat, his government was approaching insecurity in three different ways including providing jobs through agriculture, vocational and technical skills as well as ensuring that parents who sent their children to Almajiri schools were able to take care of them. He vowed that Nasarawa under his leadership would make sure that begging on the street was a crime, stressing that the rights of children must be protected, as begging was not part of the concept of Almajiri system of Islamic education.