Nigeria: Street Begging in Kano - One Problem Too Many

19 February 2020

It has been on records that, different governments at different levels and different times have made several efforts to tackle the issue of Almajiri in Kano state. However, checks by Chronicle revealed that Almajiri children of 4 to 10 years of age still roam streets begging in the state.

It could be recalled that the ban was first introduced by the administration of Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and during the first tenure of the Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, government had taken drastic measures to discourage the eye-sore enterprise that include banning street begging in the state.

Prior to the introduction of ban on street begging, the Malam Ibrahim Shekarau-led administration had come up with a programme, Tsangaya Education, with a view to sanitising the Qur'anic education.

The aim for both Tsangaya education programme and the ban on street begging in the state, Chronicle learnt, were to sanitise the Qur'anic and Tsangaya system of education.

However, despite the long history of traditional Almajiri system of Qur'anic education, the number of small children roaming the streets of Kano remains alarming as most of the children are left to fend for themselves.

In 2019, Governor Ganduje renewed the ban with emphasis on the need for integrating western education with Islamic education with special consideration to the Almajiri system.

Ganduje also included the children of physically challenged persons in the newly introduced programme on education which makes basic education free and compulsory in the state.

During the flag-off of the programme, the governor assured that all out-of-school children including children of the physically challenged persons in the state must acquire basic education under the programme.

Abubakar Husaini, a 10-year-old pupil who came to Kano from Bauchi seven months ago in search of Qur'anic education, said he resorted to street begging to feed himself, claiming that he had no knowledge of the ban, but would be happy if provisions on the ban would cater for his daily needs.

Another 10-year-old Bashir Ahmad from Katsina, who spent a year in Kano, said he was told about the ban on street begging by his teacher but he had never told him to stop street begging though shelter is his major concern because he came along with his foodstuff.

Street begging does not only revolve around young boys in search Qur'anic education but it also concerns physically impaired persons and people who for sheer laziness have resorted to street begging as a means of survival and those who have lost means of catering for themselves.

Malama Rabi, from Niger Republic, told our reporter that she came to Nigeria in search for better living and that, she resulted to street begging because she could not find any means of providing for herself, she has lived in Kano for over 5 years and claimed to be well informed about the ban but had no other means of survival than begging.

A head teacher of one of the Almajiri school, who wants to remain anonymous, said he was aware of the ban and its consequences but he had to let the children go on with it.

He said some children were being brought to them without anything for their upkeep, while some parents do not visit their children regularly.

Malam Abdulmalik Aliyu, another teacher of the Almajiri school, said most of his students are from Kano and Katsina. He said there are 19 students under his care and most of them don't come along with foodstuffs from their homes.

He claimed that he was not aware of the ban on street begging as such he allows them go out to beg. Aliyu, however, expressed optimism that the ban would yield results if governments could make adequate provisions for the children specifically in terms of feeding, clothing and shelter.

In his opinion, a renowned poultry farmer, Alhaji Muhammadu Aminu Adamu, said: "Even though I have no doubt concerning the government's good intention, this is not a good measure to curb the menace of street begging in the state. In the first place, there is no certainty that these teachers will help the Almajiris if the support comes through them."

He said there were four objectives that could be achieved when the Almajiris study under the care of their parents.

"One, the required discipline could only be given by the parents; two the child will benefit his parents with some chores; three the education will be more qualitative because the child is not subjected to hunger and hardship and finally, there will be no this public nuisance constituted by the Almajiris roaming the street.

"You must have noticed that there is an influx of Almajiris into Kano, and that was because of the government's pronouncement that the they will be supported. I am not saying the Almajiris should not be supported, but the support should meet them at their home towns," he added.

He said one other serious challenge was that the children lack parental care and as such they feel rejected by the society and thus become enemies of the society. He suggested that the state government should rescind its decision on the matter.

He suggested that conventional schools in all communities should be utilized in the evening to teach the almajiris and after the evening Qur'anic lessons, they should all return to their parents every day.

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