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Exemplary ban on street begging in Kano

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Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje’s decision to ban street begging in Kano in an effort to integrate the Almajiripupils into the free and compulsory primary and secondary school education programme of the state is laudable and indeed, a step in the right direction at this time. In the same vein, the Council of Ulama’s concern about the process should not be ignored. It should be used to strengthen the policy instrument to fight poverty and ignorance in the commercial capital of the North. 

Dr. Ganduje who announced the ban at the launching of Basic Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) and distribution of offer of appointments to 7, 500 volunteer teachers decried the ugly trend of street begging in the state. He said: “This policy of free and compulsory basic and secondary education goes along with integration of pupils of Almajirisystem of education into the mainstream policy implementation, which provides that English and Arithmetic must be included in the Almajirischools curriculum…While they will continue acquiring Qur’anic education, they would as well learn English and Arithmetic. We will give them opportunity to continue with their studies to secondary schools and beyond”.

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The governor further warned that if any Almajiripupil is caught engaged in street begging, the parent or guardian of such a child would be taken to court for disrespecting the law banning the practice. The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who was represented by a Director in the Ministry, Mrs. Aisha Liman, commended the state government’s effort, saying that what the state is doing under the new policy is exemplary.

But while the State Government is being commended for the bold and progressive policy to leverage the state socially and educationally, the Kano Council of Ulama, curiously seems to be working at cross purposes with the new policy as the religious body says the ban on street begging is not feasible. Chairman of the Council, Sheikh Ibrahim Khaleel while briefing newsmen in Kano, claimed that the government could not do it because it has not taken the right steps to it.

According to him, the right steps to follow in banning street begging include firstly, the Quranic clerics involved have to be identified because there are street beggars who are Quranic students; there are beggars who are sent by their parents from the rural areas; there are also beggars engaged by physically challenged individuals. He said all these forms of street beggars need to be identified and each one addressed accordingly.

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While the Kano Ulama’s points are valid, the body should note that the North being part of a complex federation cannot continue to lag behind in any policy instrument that is aimed at raising the literacy and numeracy level of individuals in a complex new world that disruptive technologies dominate at this moment. The influential Council should constructively engage the agencies of government charged with implementing this education policy with a view to raising the bar of development of education quality in the North, not just Kano alone. Begging should not be celebrated and continued in a region that has already been classified as the poverty capital in the country. There is need for all stakeholders to cooperate on this critical matter to make the government’s well-intentioned drive to work in the interest of Kano State in particular and Nigeria in general. 

Doubtless, the Almajirisystem has blighted Kano and the North in general such that whatever measures the authorities would like to implement to give a new lease of life and build a better future should be supported. 

Governor Ganduje, shortly after being sworn in as Kano State Governor for a second term declared a free primary and secondary education for school-age children in the state.‎ The launching of a free and compulsory basic and secondary education policy the other day with fanfare amidst concern for the impact of the campaign by a terror group against western education in parts of the north is remarkable. All states in the north should embrace it immediately. That is the way to go as the governor advocated last year when the free and compulsory basic and secondary education was launched in the presence of Nigeria’s Vice President who commended it as a Federal Government policy.  According to the Governor, tertiary education for Kano indigenes would be subsidised, as government was consolidating on the achievements so far recorded in healthcare delivery.

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Governor Ganduje’s exemplary education programme is worthy of emulation. The Governor should use the Northern Governors’ Forum to sell the policy to other northern states for multiplier effects.  No doubt, the target group for the education policy is the Almajiris and all street-begging children who should be in the classrooms to be educated as useful citizens.  

Having identified the various subgroups that constitute the street beggars, the Kano Ulama should work with the government to ensure that this ban succeeds and not sacrificed on the altar of pettiness and religious bigotry. The literacy levels in United Arabs Emirate (UAE), Saudi Arabia in the Middle East and even some North African countries have been quite impressive, despite the fact that they are Islamic countries. This is what political and religious leaders in the North should reflect on at this time. There should be no distraction in Kano State, the economic capital of the North with a huge population that can turn out to be assets if properly educated.

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