The House of Representatives Thursday made humongous demands on the federal and State governments over the scourge of Almajiris in the country.
The parliamentarians called on the federal government to declare child destitution and begging a national emergency.
The Green Chamber also called on Governments at all levels to ensure that children are provided with opportunities to access basic education as guaranteed by the United Nations Convention
This was sequel to the passage of a motion by Hon. Mansur Manu Soro (Katsina APC) and three other lawmakers with the titled ‘Need to Eradicate Child Destitution and Remove Beggars from Nigerian Streets through Provision of Standardized Education System and Improved Livelihood.”
Another resolution urged the Federal Ministry of Education to integrate the Almajiri Education System into the Universal Basic Education Programme;
Similarly, the lawmakers urged the affected States to comply with extant laws on basic education, especially the UBEC Act by ensuring that all children between the ages of 6 -16 are given free and compulsory education;
They called on the Office of the Vice-President to, in collaboration with States’ relevant institutions, conduct a census of Almajiri schools and headcount of the destitute children with the view to enrolling them in the on-going National Home-grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP);
They further urged the Federal Government to create a department under the UBEC to handle the Almajiri matters with adequate funding to construct a minimum of one Almajiri school in each of the electoral wards of the affected states by the year 2021 and also ensure that the Almajiri school curriculum is planned to include technical and vocational courses with long-term objectives of self-reliance and sustenance;
The lawmakers equally urged the Federal Government to conduct an extensive enumeration and mapping exercise to, among other things, determine the location of the Almajiri schools, sizes and staff strength to ensure comprehensiveness of the policy.
While moving the motion, Soro also noted that the menace of Child destitution in most parts of Nigeria has become a matter of grave concern for the continued wellbeing of the country and is also a source of increasing national embarrassment;
He also noted that the large number of children captured in the destitution net most of whom roam the streets begging for alms or hawking at traffic spots come at a huge cost to the nation in terms of loss of critical human capital and erosion of family values;
“Aware that the various religious and cultural value systems frown at begging and abandoning children without proper care, yet parents release their children to pass through such horrific conditions out of poverty and sheer abdication of responsibility.
“Also aware that Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the rights of Children requires every member state to take all appropriate legislative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, abuse or neglect”
He expressed concern about the probable consequences of child destitution and street begging, which ranges from kidnapping, sexual abuse to overall public insecurity;
‘Further concerned that the negligence by and indifference at all levels of government about the presence and plight of the child destitute are condemnable;
“Cognizant that an immediate ban on child destitution and begging will only worsen the situation, and make the children more desperate, vulnerable and threatening to the society, while their continued existence poses grave danger to Nigeria’s collective wellbeing and security of the present and succeeding generations.”
The lawmakers urge the Federal Government to immediately embark on comprehensive enumeration of handicapped and people with disabilities in the country to integrate them into the cash transfer component of the Social Investment Programme to improve their livelihood and commit them to stop begging
They called on the relevant ministries, departments and agencies of Government to collaborate with the organised private sector, international donor partners and philanthropic high-net worth individuals to support the new education structure of the Almajiris.
The Committee on Legislative Compliance (when constituted) was mandated to ensure compliance.
Source: The Nation