ECOWAS plans end to Almajiri system
The Economic Community of West African States has concluded plans to put in place laws and strategies to address the phenomenon of street children popularly known as Almajiris, in West Africa.
To this end, the ECOWAS Commissionâ€™s Early Warning Directorate said it is organising a workshop in Dakar, Senegal, from June 22-24, 2015, to launch the Regional Support Programme for the organisationâ€™s Member States to put an end to Street Children Syndrome.
A statement from the Commission on Monday in Abuja, said at the end of the workshop, a framework on the societal ill as well as a control measure based on the appropriate implementation of laws and strategies would be established.
It stated that the programme launch, which is the first in a series of activities envisaged in the biannual plan of action (2015-2017) to eliminate the street children syndrome in the ECOWAS region, would be chaired by the Senegalese Prime Minister, Mohamed Dionne.
Quoting the United Nations Children Education Fund, ECOWAS stated that Dakar alone accounts for over 50,000 street urchins, and over 100,000 in other towns in the country, who are placed under the tutelage of Islamic teachers called â€œmaraboutsâ€ to learn the Koran.
The regional body adduced several reasons for the Almajiri phenomenon, which, it said, were mainly the result of domestic, economic or social crises, particularly poverty, breakdown of homes or families, political upheavals, sexual abuse, physical or emotional violence, domestic violence, mental health problems, and drug abuse.
It observed that cultural and religious reasons also play a role in the prevalence of street children, especially in Northern Nigeria, where the Almajiris are forced to abandon their homes in the quest for seeking the teachings of the Koran under the tutelage of a â€œmallam.â€
â€œThe ECOWAS Commissionâ€™s Early Warning Directorate will organise a workshop in Dakar, from June 22-24, 2015, to launch the Regional Support Programme for the organisationâ€™s Member States to put an end to Street Children Syndrome.
â€œDuring their apprenticeship, the children are sent out to the streets to fend for themselves by begging for alms. Often times, they are also compelled to hand over some or the entire collection to the â€˜mallam,â€™ and are punished severely if they fail to do so,â€ The statement said.
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