GOVERNOR Nasir El-Rufai has warned that any parent who sends their offspring to an almajiri school in Kaduna State from henceforth will be charged to court as his government battles to control the spread of coronavirus which they bring with them.
Street urchins known as almajiris are rampant across Nigeria and with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, state governments have expelled them to their states of origin. Kano State for instance recently sent a batch of almajiris back to Kaduna, prompting scares that their arrival would lead to the dramatic spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Most states have put isolated these kids in treatment centres and Governor El-Rufai said those sent to Kaduna would be compulsorily enrolled in primary schools. He added that the former child urchins were being given back their full human rights, dignity and hope as children, pointing out that every child in Kaduna State has equal opportunity and access to 12 years of free and compulsory education in our public schools.
However, the Joint Association of Northern Youth Groups said unless the governors revived the programme former President Goodluck Jonathan put in place for the almajiri children, the desired objective might not be achieved. President Jonathan opened special almajiri schools were these kids could receive a proper formal education alongside getting Koranic studies.
Governor El-Rufai said: “We are pleased to see our almajiri children, the batch of 218 from Kano, Nassarawa, Plateau and Gombe States looking well and free of Covid-19. With the support of Unicef Nigeria, AMA Foundation, other non-governmental organisations and philanthropists, they are being restored full human rights, dignity & hope as children.
“Every child in Kaduna has equal opportunity and access to 12 years of free and compulsory education in our public schools. All the children are to be compulsorily enrolled in the primary school nearest to them so they have modern education and life skills in the morning, and continue their Quranic or Islamic education in the afternoon and over the weekend.”
With regards to the returned almajiris. Governor El-Rufai said the next step was for the Kaduna State commissioner of human services and social development, Hafsat Baba and her team to return the kids to their parents in collaboration with local government chairmen and traditional rulers. Governor El-Rufai did not reveal what the jail term for offending parents would be.