Dr Umar Dandin-Mahe, the Executive Secretary of Arabic and Islamic Commission in Sokoto state, has commended the UN Children Education Fund (UNICEF) for its interventions in ”Almajiri” education and commitment to children’s welfare worldwide.
Dandin-Mahe made this known on Sunday at the end of a four-day training for 100 teachers of ”Tsangaya” schools on child safeguarding and alternative care for almajiri children in Sokoto state.
The programme is funded by the Eleva Foundation of the UK and anchored by the Sokoto State Arabic and Islamic Education Commission and UNICEF.
“Our children in Almajiri schools should be seen as very neat, comfortable and given the needed care to appease others.
” We have about N7, 000 Islamiyya and Almajiri Qur’anic schools in Sokoto state as many have not even registered, I am optimistic that with the present support things will be transformed,” he said.
Dandin-Mahe urged the clerics to utilise every segment of the training and put in practice for better understanding as well as standard practices of handling the children.
He also called for a law prescribe the acceptable age within which parents can take their wards to other places for Islamic education.
A participant, Malam Jabbi Ibrahim, from Sokoto State Zakkat and Waqf Commission, stressed the need for communities to study Almajiri education system and the proliferation of schools.
Ibrahim, who is the Director of Endowment Services of the commission, implored people to differentiate between the large number of children roaming the streets and ”Almajiri” children.
He said some factors that comprised insecurity, climate change and other challenges had rendered many homeless.
He said the Sokoto government copied systems from Malaysia and Indonesia to transform the ”almajiri” education system and injected more funds to support those schools.
Earlier, UNICEF Child Protection Officer, Mr Williams Nwaokorie, said the effort is part of the responses to the need of almajiri and Out-of-School children.
Nwaokerie said participants would be trained on adoption of alternative care minimum standards for almajiri children out of family care.
He said it would enable them to properly look after and protect the children entrusted to them who are learning Islamic teachings.
” UNICEF has a zero tolerance policy towards any form of bullying, harassment, sexual exploitation and abuse of children.
” Children are the primary beneficiaries of our work, hence we are committed to ensuring that all our implementing partners and relevant stakeholders do not cause any harm, abuse or commit any act of violence against children, ” Nwaokerie said.
He added that 100 teachers were selected from eight local government areas in Sokoto state on best child safeguarding principles and alternatives in order to protect children under their care.
Lead facilitator, Prof. Umar Alkali, reminded participants that Allah will ask parents over their responsibilities to their wards stressing that Islam bestowed certain rights on children. ,
”These rights include that of life, education, dignity, health, lineages, prevention, provision and participation as the core objective of UNICEF child safeguarding policy, which Islamic teachers are encouraged to imbib,” Alkali said.
Alkali further clarified that the child can attend both western and Islamic schools from their parents homes even before attaining the age of 10.
The scholar advised that teachers should establish school committees to facilitate tracking of students and know their whereabouts, hygiene and other socioeconomic activities.
He also called for more provisions from the government for teachers and students welfare, infrastructure and empowerment of students to further their studies and occupational training.
Participants unanimously agreed that the ideal year should be 10 years.