The impact of COVID–19 pandemic on the Almajiris in Northern Nigeria and the need for social work intervention
The Almajiri system, an unregulated Islamic scholarship practice of sending children to Islamic scholars, has been a part of the culture of Northern Nigeria. These children live a communal lifestyle. In the ideal situation, the communities support them as they leave their families to become servants of Allah. Regrettably, these Almajiri children live in some of the shabbiest conditions imaginable and are forced into daily street begging. This lifestyle becomes a hotbed for the spread of COVID-19. The public health danger led to efforts by governors in northern Nigeria, to disperse these Almajiri children during the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper provides an overview of the Almajiri system and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on this traditional institution. It evaluates the response of the various governments in the region to addressing the challenge as well as the need for policy change at all levels that will lead to decisive action in the favour of these children. This change will involve social work intervention through the process of mobilizing traditional and faith leaders, social influencers, and other citizens as well as the children themselves to stand up for the rights of Almajiri children to a fair start in life.