Family Planning and Almajiri crisis


This is an issue that has been overlooked by the government for many years and Northern elites. Many who tried to speak against the menacing effect of the Almajiri crisis have been bullied by those that benefit from it, others are seen as enemies Islam. Typical example is the highly educated and respected Emir of Kano, Emir Sanusi the former governor of the Central bank of Nigeria.

Photo illustration of a Normal Northern Child.

Accordng to Wikipedia, Almajiranci is a system of Islamic education practiced in northern Nigeria and it is also the name for a young boy who is taught within this system, the system is called Almajiranci, the male gender seeking Islam knowledge is called Almajiri, female gender is Almajira, and the plural is (almajirai). The system encourages parents to leave parental responsibilities to the attached Islamic school.

The population of Almajiris in Northern Nigeria has increased exponentially, leaving this children to compete for resources to survive in the street. How do they compete? You guessed right, through begging in their numbers. This year, a friend of mine sent me a video of Almajiri and Almajirai lined up on the streets of Kebbi holding small plates use to receive both foods and money. It was painful seeing children of school age positioned dangerously very close to our dangerous roads, staring at our deadly motorists. It was disheartening but I could do just little to help.

These children get alms from kind hearted Nigerians especially the religious Muslims and Christians. The Muslims call this alms giving "sadaka'' while the Christians call it "love gift". They take this money realized by their hardwork in trekking kilometers and persuasive skills in begging to the mallams in these Islamic schools. Those that question this system amongst these children are tortured and called infidels.

The Almajranci(Islamic education) is only a bad practice in Northern Nigeria. Some Islamic countries practice this system in a very decent way. Even this system is unpopular amongst the Yoruba Muslims in Western Nigeria. In Northern Nigeria it is a different story altogether. In fact clamouring for its end is not out of place. Many have tried calling out the government to put an end to it but it fell on deaf ears.

The Goodluck Jonathan administration introduced the Almajiri schools where these children are taught Islamic religion along side normal academics but it was also frustrated by politicians especially from the North who saw it as a politicall move at that time and discouraged "their Almajiris" from participating. Although some areas in the North accepted it but it was widely discouraged. Whether it was a political move or not, supporting it would have been in the best interest of these children and the society.

What is family planning?

According to the World Health Organization(WHO), "Family planning allows individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births. It is achieved through the use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of involuntary infertility."

Nigerians are very religious and they have responded to family planning very slowly. Amongst the religions, the Christians were the first to encourage family planning but it took a very long time before it was accepted among the Christian community. Many Muslims also practice family planning but it's not popular in the North. Polygamy with no family planning has led to so many children being born to parents who can barely take care of themselves talk more of the many children they bring into the world. The Northern states are poor and majority of them can barely sustain themselves even with the federal government allocations but they have the most population. These innocent children are sent into the streets with no care from parents and the government and they end up being radicalized and recruited by Boko Haram and armed bandits thereby causing more security challenges to the nation. These children practically harass people on the street thereby constituting nuisance in the society. We can't really blame them because they are a victim of circumstances. While their mates in other parts of the country are in classrooms these children roam the streets starved. God gives children but He wants us to take very good care of them. The parents of Almajiri are all committing a grievious sin against God.

If Northerners can be educated on the importance of family planning and that it's not a means to reduce their population but a way If raising children they can care for with prestige and dignity, i believe the Almajiri crisis will soon be a thing of the past.

Please drop your comments on ways to educate the good people of the North on Family Planning. Good comments will be part of a mail that will be sent to UNICEF to help end these menace and inhumane treatment of the Nigerian child.

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