Almajiri children and their parents in Kaduna state praised the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Kaduna government for introducing a social safety net for 2,674 children reunited with their families.
The Nigerian News Agency reports that the Kaduna government, with the support of UNICEF, inaugurated on Wednesday the disbursement of a monthly cash transfer of N5,000 under the Children in Street Situation programme.
The Hausa word “Almajiri” refers to children from the non-formal Koranic school who migrate from their homes in search of Islamic knowledge.
Almajirai are children, usually from poor rural backgrounds in northern Nigeria, who leave their hometowns to study with itinerant Koran teachers.
The term has been expanded to refer to any youth who begs on the streets and does not attend a secular school.
The Almajiri children said in separate interviews in Kaduna on Thursday that the support would transform their lives forever.
The children were among more than 10,000 street children who joined their parents to enroll and stay in school to acquire basic education.
They said the support has given them the opportunity to gain formal education and grow to their full potential.
One of the children, Aminu Waziri, 9, said he was happy to be among the program’s beneficiaries.
The visibly elated little Waziri said he was excited because he now lives with his parents and has the opportunity to enroll in a formal school.
In addition, his father, Mr. Waziri Mailafiya, from the Kudan Local Government Area of the state, said that his son has been enrolled in public primary school ever since and promised to support him to grow and develop.
Beneficiary of the “Street Children Program” supported by UNICEF/EU
Mailafiya, a father of six, praised UNICEF and the state government for the support, which he described as “life changing”.
Another beneficiary, Ahmed Suleiman, 11, said he was glad he wasn’t begging for food courtesy of the program.
Suleiman, who said he wants to be a soldier when he grows up, said his life was getting better, adding that his dream of becoming a soldier was coming true to serve his country.
Mr. Hassan Idris, Suleiman’s uncle, said the support would transform the children’s lives and allow them to take advantage of available opportunities to support their growth and development.
Idris blamed poverty for the incidence of street children, adding that with the cash transfer program, parents and guardians no longer have an excuse not to send their children to school.
Another beneficiary, Abdullahi Muhammad, 12, said: “I am very happy with the support, particularly as it will allow me to attend school without interruption.
“Now I am sure that I will achieve my dream of becoming a doctor. I will study hard and make my dreams come true now that I have the opportunity to be in school.
His father, Mr. Salisu Idris, complained that life was difficult for him and he was unable to send his 10 children to school due to poverty.
“I want them to go to school, but I am struggling to feed myself and meet other pressing needs; but now I will be able to send my other children to school thanks to this support,” she said.
Project Strengthening access to justice for children on the move and other vulnerable children funded by the European Union.
Mamah said that UNICEF was working with the State Ministry of Human Services and Social Development and other stakeholders to provide critical services to the Almajiri children who remained at home after their reunification.
He added that the efforts would also facilitate their full integration with their communities.
It identified the services as the creation of children’s bank accounts for a monthly cash transfer of N5,000, registration and issuance of a national identification number.
The other services, he said, included the acquisition of legal identification and birth registration, enrollment in school, and the provision of school uniforms and teaching materials.
Source Credit: NAN