Almajiri Education: Schools Or Slave Camps?


Almajiri Children in Bauchi’s Qur’anic Schools: A Disturbing Tale of Exploitation and Vulnerability

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A recent investigation by WikkiTimes sheds light on the dire conditions faced by Almajiri children attending Qur’anic schools in Bauchi. Despite existing state laws, these children suffer from abuse and exploitation at the hands of their teachers, and the government’s lack of protection exacerbates their vulnerability.

Separated by approximately 110 kilometers, three young Almajiri children—Musa Abdullahi (16), Usman Musa (15), and Abubakar Garin-Dawa (17)—share a common fate of suffering and hardship. These children are enrolled in Tsangaya schools, where they are expected to learn and recite the Qur’an.

Musa Abdullahi’s journey began when he was six years old, sent by his father to learn the Qur’an. However, he soon found himself subjected to labor on local farms and forced to submit his earnings to his teacher. His life has been marked by extensive chores and fear of punishment. Similarly, Musa’s experience mirrors Abdullahi’s fate, where he is forced into domestic work to sustain himself, but his earnings are seized by his teacher.

Abubakar Garin-Dawa’s story is even more disheartening. Despite being enrolled for Qur’anic studies, he is exploited by his teacher who uses him for farm labor while withholding his wages. These instances reflect a pattern of exploitation and vulnerability that persists due to a weak regulatory system and a lack of enforcement of child protection laws.

Almajiri children are subjected to substandard living conditions, including overcrowded and unsanitary sleeping spaces that expose them to infections. The investigation further uncovers the practice of teachers imposing weekly levies on the children, with punitive measures against defaulters. Despite existing laws against such practices, the government’s failure to enforce them allows this exploitation to continue.

UNICEF data indicates that Almajiri children constitute a significant portion of the out-of-school population in Nigeria. Bauchi, specifically, has a high burden of out-of-school children. The Juveniles Accompanying Qur’anic Mallams Prohibition Law exists in Bauchi, but its enforcement remains inadequate. The law aims to prevent the movement of Almajiris from one place to another under the guise of education.

Barrister SG Idrees, a legal expert, interprets the law as an effort to confine Qur’anic teachers to specific environments, ensuring the safety and well-being of the children. He highlights the vulnerability of these children and emphasizes the need for proper oversight. Senior Almajiris often exploit their junior peers, perpetuating bullying and mistreatment.

In conclusion, the investigation reveals the urgent need for comprehensive reforms in the treatment and education of Almajiri children. The current conditions perpetuate vulnerability and neglect, hindering both their learning and well-being. The government must take swift action to ensure the dignity, rights, and safety of these young learners.

Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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