allAfrica.com allafrica.com 29 Jan, 2021 06:45 am

Nigeria: Pandemic Feared Fuelling Child Abuse At Nigeria's Islamic Schools

Nigeria: Pandemic Feared Fuelling Child Abuse At Nigeria's Islamic Schools
COVID-19 pandemic could hinder efforts to stop children being enrolled and exploited at Nigeria's almajiri schools, campaigners say

p COVID-19 pandemic could hinder efforts to stop children being enrolled and exploited at Nigeria's almajiri schools, campaigners say Efforts to stop abuse and forced begging of pupils at Islamic schools in northern Nigeria are at risk as the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic could push more struggling families to enrol their children, according to campaigners.The Islamic schools, known locally as almajiri schools, are estimated to host about 10 million children - mainly boys - and hit headlines in 2019 when a series of police raids on the institutions uncovered widespread physical and sexual abuse.Almajiri schools help fill the gap and parents pay as little as 500 naira ($1.The United Nations' children's agency (UNICEF) called for better social welfare efforts - such as follow-up visits to homes where children have returned from almajiri schools - and said individual states should bring abusive teachers to justice.

Nigeria's northern governors agreed last April to close the schools and send pupils back home due to concerns over COVID-19, which child rights' activists saw as a chance to challenge the practice and push for better local education and social welfare.Fewer than half of children in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria attend overcrowded government primary schools, official data from 2015 shows.

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