Wednesday, December 23, 2009

When I was a child living in Lagos, Nigeria, I would sometimes see children begging. As a naive child, I would always plead with my mother to adopt them so that they would be able to go to school, be clean and not have to beg. I incorrectly assumed that these children, who I was told were from the northern part of the country, were parentless, but I soon came to realize that the money these children received was taken to a parent who usually watched from not to far away. Despite this, it came as a shocking surprise to learn that Nigeria, and specifically, the northern part of the country, is home to approximately 10 million child beggars. The child I used to be would want to adopt all these children but the adult I am today knows that this issue goes far beyond adoption and requires serious strategic planning to address the problem.

During a popular Hausa radio show, Nigeria's Minister of State for Education, Aishatu Jibrin Dukku, shared the highly depressing news, saying,

"We are yet to finish our compilation, but at the moment we have over ten million child beggars roaming our streets, and that's a conservative estimate."
She continued,
"It is very alarming that parents are becoming so insensitive to the welfare of their children that they dispatch them to unknown places to take care of themselves...
"They just send them away without making any arrangement for their feeding, medical care, shelter and other necessities... Most of these children, because of the harsh realities they found themselves in, end up becoming juvenile delinquents and, subsequently, adult criminals."
Whether The Minister's assessment of the fates of these child beggars is correct or not, what is clear is that it is unacceptable for children to have to beg for their keep. They did not ask to be brought into the world, but now that they are here, it is the collective job of all to cater for those in need.

Apparently, the current administration has plans to get many of these children in schools so that they can get an education of some sort. I cannot help but wonder what prior administrations, Ministers of Education, and other responsible parties did. Actually, assuming that the numbers announced by Dukku are relatively accurate, it is clear that those previously responsible did absolutely nothing, unfortunately.

Regardless, steps must definitely be taken to create educational opportunities for these youngsters. Especially as Nigerians were recently informed that 23mn of the nation's youths are unemployable. That information, coupled with this latest revelation puts in serious doubt the ability of Nigeria's young to compete in the global economy - a necessity for any nation to survive. Private individuals and groups will also need to step in to help fill the educational gap these children face and the catching up that needs to be done. Hopefully, that will be the case because 10mn uneducated Nigerian children, regardless of what part of the country they hail from, puts the entire nation at a global disadvantage.

From The Archives:
- 23mn Of Nigeria's Youth Are Unemployable
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8 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Sugabelly said...

This is unsurprising. The north directly fuels majority of the begging in Nigeria. Sharia Law and the Almajirai system is also directly responsible for the sheer volume of beggars in the country. That and the general unproductivity of the north. Northern states must give up this Sharia Law business. Not only is Nigeria a secular country, it has done nothing but create unproductive individuals that undermine our work force. In addition, if Northern governors stopped stealing all their state's money and actually provided an education other than Islamic education and amenities for their denizens then MAYBE we would get somewhere.

I know it sounds like I hate/hate on the North but honestly, it's annoying. At least the South is attempting to pull its weight and be productive. Sure, corruption is a national problem, but the North is ten times more corrupt than the South, PLUS the North does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for its denizens. The South at least tries. The lack of education and the RESISTANCE to education in the North is dragging Nigeria back and is parasitically benefiting from the hard work and productivity of the South.

It's a huge shame that there are 10 million child beggars in Nigeria, but let's look at the facts:

Majority of them are from the North

The North churns out child beggars due to Poverty, Amputations, and Almajirai/Islamic education (that leaves the children unequipped for any other kind of useful work).

Are we surprised? F*ck no.

Azazel said...

Hmm I can understand 5 million children being beggars..
But 10 million children seems a little bit farfetched..
Need to check the quality of research done on this one. Especially 10 million children beggars in the northern part only?

Beauty said...

"It is very alarming that parents are becoming so insensitive to the welfare of their children that they dispatch them to unknown places to take care of themselves" by Nigeria's Minister of State for Education, Aishatu Jibrin Dukku is the ignorant and clueless statement on the social side of a failed system. At least she has stopped blaming the military dictators, she should just flog the idiot. Never mind the impairment. A crippled school system is a NEXT editorial worth reading and of course, without the foul language of the educated.

nneoma said...

thinking about this the other day. outside aid organizations tend to want to focus on women's education and employment for women - and rightly so. however, I found an article the other day that a high illiteracy/unemployment rate amongst men underlies unstable societies liable to the sorts of religious riots and unrest that we see in Nigeria. Well anyway, that is just an aside.

Unfortunately, I would have to agree with the others the the proliferation of child beggars, particularly in the North and nomads from outside Nigeria that immigrate to the South, is largely a cultural phenomenon. But like you said, even with increased "western" education, the question is, what next in terms of employment.

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Veracity said...

Wow!!! That many children beggers in Nigeria? No wonder there are always people ready to riot and a seemingly unlimitted supply of political thugs and robbers. Without government or non-governmental intervention, this nation of young beggers will surley grow up to be the bane of Nigeria. Think Somalia, even Afghanistan.

Don Thieme said...

Nigeria is not the only country with this problem. I suspect that it is more an economic than a religious one. Does sharia prescribe an "untouchable" status for illegitimate children in northern Nigeria?

Aiping Fulepp said...

Kids need and want to learn how to face up to problems and solve them rather than run away or hide from them.

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