The Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai on Monday has declared that parents who enrol their children into the Almajiri education system risk prosecution and up to two-year jail term.
This declaration was made by the Governor when he visited about 200 Almajirai repatriated from Nasarawa state undergoing rehabilitation at the Government college, Kurmin Mashi, Kaduna.
The Almajirai are children, usually from poor rural backgrounds, who leave their hometowns to be taught the Quran, but end up loitering the streets with bowls begging for alms and food.
Speaking at the rehabilitation center, the Governor said any Islamic cleric who enrols any child into the Almajiri system would also be prosecuted, jailed and fined N100,000 or N200,000 per child.
According to El-Rufai, the state has a responsibility to give the Almajirai hope and a better future.
“We will, therefore, continue to take delivery of every Almajiri pupil indigenous to Kaduna for rehabilitation, treatment and enrollment into formal school nearest to where their parents live.
“We will continue to do this until we clear Kaduna of the menace of the Almajiri system, which is not education but the abuse of the privilege and future of a child.
“Our ultimate goal is for them to acquire formal education without depriving them of the opportunity to acquire Quranic education.
“They will continue their Quranic education but under the care of their parents and not under someone who does not know them or paid to look after them,” El-Rufai said.
The governor said all the 218 Almajirai who were repatriated to Kaduna tested negative for Coronavirus.
“I am 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 NGOs and philanthropists, they are being restored full human rights as children, dignity and hope!
“Every child in Kaduna has equal opportunity and access to 12 years of free and compulsory education in our public schools,” the governor said.
Kaduna State Commissioner for Human Services and Social Development, Hajiya Hafsat Baba, said the state has so far received over 900 Almajirai from Kano, Bauchi, Plateau and Nasarawa states.
No fewer than 500 of them were rehabilitated and reunited with their families; some 400 others were still undergoing rehabilitation and would soon be reunited with their families, she said.