A Voice of America project in Nigeria is bringing journalists, educators and the public together for a series of meetings and workshops aimed at shining a spotlight on the country’s estimated 9.5 million underprivileged Almajiri children.
At a “town hall” style event held in the northern Nigerian city of Kano on March 17, students and others were able to question Professor Shehu Galadanchi, the chairman of Nigeria’s National Implementation Committee on Almajiri Education.
Galadanchi’s committee is charged with integrating conventional school subjects such as English, math and social studies with Islamic disciplines. The Almajiri, mostly young boys between the ages of 3 and 12, are often sent away from home to follow teachers who focus exclusively on memorizing the Koran. Many of these children end up as street beggars.
At the Town Hall meeting, students and others posed questions about educational services in Nigeria to officials including Alhaji Musa Salihu, Commissioner of Education for Kano State. He emphasized the right of every child to receive an education “whatever the parents wish for that child.”
The town hall event was organized by VOA’s Development office and the Hausa Language Service, which also held a two-day journalism workshop that included reporters from across Northern Nigeria.
The Town Hall and journalist training sessions were the second in a series of VOA programs that are supported by USAID. The first segment, held in Sokoto, focused on girls’ education. Two additional sessions will be held in Abuja and Bauchi later this year.