IOM, Yobe  Push for Education to Enable Almajiris Fulfill Full Potential

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

The United Nations’ International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Yobe State Government and Almajiri Child Rights Initiative (ACRI) have pushed for official and regularised education that would enable the Almsjiris to fit into modern needs of a society and subsequently achieve their full potential.

This was the crux of discussion at a roundtable meeting tagged “Achieving Durable Solutions and Sustainable Impact for Protecting Vulnerable Street and Migrant Children in Nigeria.”

The event, which was organised by IOM, Yobe State Government and ACRI, commenced on Monday and would run through Wednesday and would feature workshop session on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS), Gender-Based Violence (GBV), and Trafficking in Persons (TiP) to commemorate the International Day for the Almajiri child.

The IOM Chief of Mission, Mr. Laurent De Boeck, said that the organisation would uphold the principles of non-discrimination, best interest of the child, right to life and safeguarding their dignity.

Boeck explained that the roundtable would foster dialogue among key stakeholders and promote response to child trafficking, and strengthen partnerships on ways to ensure child protection.

He noted that this would ensure that every Almajiris realised their full potential and lead a life of dignity and opportunity.

He said: “I will like to celebrate with you the International Day of the Child.

“I believe that all of us are children to someone and also as parent the concern gives us the value of childhood and the right that every child in the world should have access to.

“It is the reason I am happy to be with to celebrate and engage in ensuring the children in the world, particularly in Nigeria have the rights they truly deserve.

“It is particularly interesting to discuss what can be gained in the protection of vulnerable children in the streets in Nigeria.

“Therefore, one of the national efforts to bring together all the partners from different sectors to the board.”

On his part, Yobe State Commissioner of Religious Affairs and Ethical Orientation, Mr. Yusuf Umar, commended organisation of the event, stating that it was apt and would proffers solution to issues that border on Almajiris.

Umar described Almajiri as a long standing Islamic education system that unfortunately faced numerous challenges in the country lately.

He noted that these challenges included inability to access formal education, healthcare and social services, which has left most children particularly Almajiris marginalised.

Umar said: “This event will not have come at a better time intended to facilitate response to child trafficking, promote dialogue and collaboration among stakeholders, to tackle challenges faced by this category of children.

“Yobe under the purposeful leadership of Gov. Mai Mala Buni, accords priority to the welfare of Almajiri among other children, particularly bearing in mind they are mostly affected in states ravaged Boko Haram.”

The ACRI Board Chair, Ms. Fati Murtala-Ibrahim, disclosed that the event marked the fourth edition since the establishment of the initiative.

She said: “This roundtable serves as a vital advocacy structure by ACRI to continuously bring issues about Almajiris to the forefront of discussion.

“In past years, our national advocacy campaign has successfully increased, in terms of public concern and engagement.”

The Director General of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi, emphasised the need for review of Almajiri education system to ensure protection of children without exploitation.

Waziri-Azi, who was represented by Director Research and Programme Development, NAPTIP, Mr. Josiah Emerole, said: “The protection of children in the Almajiri system and the fight against trafficking are not just legal obligations, but moral imperatives.

“As we commence this roundtable and subsequent training, let us reaffirm our commitment to safeguarding the rights and future of all children.

“Through collaborative efforts, strengthened legislation and relentless advocacy, we can create a safer, more just society where every child is free from exploitation and able to realize their full potential.” 

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