My attention has been drawn to the recent brouhaha over banning almajiri schools in Kaduna State and the move of some governors to do same in their states.
I believe banning almajiranci in Northern Nigeria now is absolutely unobjectionable and an unblemished action, and yet it may not produce the desired effect unless authorities at all levels address its underlying causes in rural areas, since the entire almajirai are flooding into cities from there. If not tackled aptly, the worsening situation of abject poverty will definitely be intensified and coerce the almajirai into modern extremist groups and criminals.
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Almajiri schools are like boarding schools in Northern Nigeria, in which parents visit their children every month, holding some basic survival needs for them such as food items, clothes, soaps and some money for the malam (teacher).
However, it is painful today, unlike their counterparts of yesteryears, almajirai waste their lives roaming streets and begging for food and money.
Today, many subsistence farmers are extremely vulnerable and incapable of achieving food security in rural areas on account of land degradation engendered by climate change or global warming. This menace gives rise to serious negative effects on their arable lands, culminates in food insecurity, famine, starvation and abject poverty, which ultimately drags farmers into sending their children into almajiranci with a view to ameliorating their plight.
Besides, overpopulation due to lack of awareness about child spacing in rural communities is another frightening root cause of almajiranci. Most people give birth to plenty of children without worrying about their upbringing. Instead of bringing up their children properly, they send them into almajiranci and keep busy seeking traditional herbal medicines to boost their sexual performance. These parents may not know that they will be questioned about their children’s responsibilities placed on their shoulders on the day of resurrection.
I, therefore, appeal to the federal and state governments to help address the major underlying drivers of land degradation, overpopulation and forced migration in rural areas.
Mustapha Baba Azare, Bauchi State