Niger bans street begging but not almajiri system

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Niger State Government has announced a total ban on street begging effective from across the state, but said the ban did not affect the Almajiri system of education.

The Commissioner for Information, Mohammed Sani Idris, who made this known while addressing newsmen in Minna, said the state executive council which met on Wednesday approved the decision “with immediate effect.”

EduCeleb.com reports that the Almajiri system of education is also called in the Tsangaya system in northern Nigeria. Students in the schools are called Almajiri, a diminutive for itinerant Qur’anic and Islamic school students. In ancient times, the education of the students and the welfare of their teachers were financed through government grants.

However, British colonialism in the region led to the withdrawal of governmental support and accounted for such children taking up either menial jobs or resorting to begging to survive while learning in their schools.

In the post-colonial era, there have been several attempts at either integrating such schools with the western system of education or completely disregarding students in such schools as out-of-school children.

In Niger State, the government hopes to address the issue of street begging with the ban.

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Idris said a committee has been set up to fine tune the modalities for the implementation of the policy to ensure that it does not fail like previous arrangements.

The commissioner added that anyone caught begging “either on the streets or elsewhere” would be arrested and prosecuted in line with existing laws, adding that street beggars found not to be indigenes of the state would also be arrested and transported to their states of origin.

“We are putting in place a lifetime structure that will stand the test of time. Street begging is a menace that we should all join hands to stop. Those who are not from Niger State will be evacuated and taken to their states. “We will collaborate with other states to ensure the success of the policy. We now have the political will to ensure the policy is implemented to the letter,” Idris said.

The commissioner, however, added that government has not outlawed the “Almajiri system of education,” but warned that “any Almajiri found begging will be arrested.”

He revealed that 80 per cent of Almajiris roaming the streets of the state are not from Niger State.

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“We are not banning Almajiri of education but they (almajiri) must not go on the street for begging any longer,” he explained.

Idris said there’s a synergy among governors in the northern states to put a stop to street begging in whatever form because of the inherent dangers in the practice.

Niger State joined the list of states that had outlawed street begging within the past two week.

Earlier, EduCeleb.com reported that both Kano State and Nasarawa State did the same as part of measures to ensure that western education learning takes place in Almajiri schools. In both instances, there are plans to jail parents who leave their children on the streets to beg.

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