The issue of the aljamari system predominantly practiced in northern Nigeria is a cause for alarm. Almajiris are young children between the age of 5 – 17 that are sent out of their homes by their parents in search of Islamic knowledge. These children cater for their needs. For instance, they beg for alms, food and cloth themselves.
For over the years, the menace of Almajiri continues to strive at the detriment of our society. Freedom is very dangerous especially to little children that are supposed to be under their parental care. At earlier stages of their lives, the Almajiri system exposes these children to a lot of social vices ranging from drug abuse and other forms of criminality.
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The Almajiri system is opposed to western education; most of these ‘sangaya’ teachers see education as a threat thereby persuading these children to believe that education is a taboo.
Many people aligned the Almajiri system to the gross poverty in the North. Parents give birth to children as many as they can without having the means to cater for their wellbeing. This is a bad practice but it’s very common in the North.
We all have a role to play and more especially, the government should caution parents on dangers associated with “Almajiri” and make a legislation that will criminalize sending children to Almajiri School.
Local and international NGOs too should gear up and engage with the community and their leaders and sensitize them on the need to allow their children to stay with them and acquire both formal and informal education to align with the realities of today.
Abdulsalam Alkali writes from the Department of Mass Communication, Unimaid