HEALTHY ALMAJIRI PROJECT (HAP)
First Aid Boxes and Health Education for Vagrant Scholars
Islamic education is as old as the religion of islam. There are different types of concepts for the establishment and running of these educational institutions. A form of this education very common in Nigeria especially the Northern parts is Almajiri system called by many names such as Makarantan Allo, Tsangaya, Madrasa, Islamiyya, Ile Kewu, Ma’had etc.
The exact term referring to almajiri in English does not exist Almajiri is a Hausa word borrowed from Arabic “ALMUHAJIR” meaning Vagrant scholar could be used to refer to Almajiri But these words vagrant & scholar are mutually exclusive and are in fact contradictory. Vagrant is a person who has no home or job and begs on the street. Scholar in this case is a student who has been given scholarship to study at a school
This group of children constitutes the largest group of out of school youth in Nigeria with a figure of 9,523699 according to the survey by the Ministerial Committee on Madrasah. This group has no feasible structure for health on the ground as efforts to include them have only been made on paper. It is note worthy that Nigeria is a signatory to the United Nations convention on the right of the child as well as Organization of African Unity charter on the rights and responsibilities of the African child.
In a study carried out in Sokoto it was found out that most of the Almajiri are brought to Qur’anic schools in a state of poor nutrition. In another study carried out in Gwale LGA by Prof. M. Kabir et.al published in the Nig journal of Paediatrics 2004 found their major health problems to be skin infection, malnutrition as well as other infectious and non infectious diseases,
With the level of attention paid to this segment of population by the government which is to say the least inadequate, the onus to confront this problem now lies in the hands of NGOs, CBOs and well meaning individuals to take the health needs of these youths as a priority problem.
The vagrant scholars suffer a tremendous negative effect regarding health and social well being. The implementation of this project will go a long way in addressing this issue.
Healthy Almajiri Project is designed to improve the health of vagrant scholars through providing them with first aid boxes containing essential drugs. It would also help build the capacity of a focal person in the Tsangaya/Madrasa to serve as the custodian and primary provider of such services. Another aspect would be providing the appropriate referral channel for those whose symptoms are beyond the ones treatable using the first aid boxes. The HAP shall be carried out in model Madrasa/Tsangaya schools where the young Almajiris study.
The Almajiris are a significant proportion of the young people in Nigeria numbering over 10,000,000. This makes them stakeholders in the Nigerian project. However due to neglect both on the part of the government and the governed, they constitute the most impoverished group of people in this country.
Studies on the health seeking behavior of the Almajiris show that over 90% of them do not have access to basic health care. While solving this issue wholly may take an enormous political will supported by generous allocation of financial and other resources as well as a massive public enlightenment and community participation in order to end the ills associated with the system, any move no matter how small may yet transform into a catalyst for change.
The key elements of this program shall be
- Provision of first aid boxes containing essential drugs needed for treatment of common illnesses such as malaria, diarrheal diseases, uncomplicated pneumonia, fungal skin infection etc and minor injuries which are common among this age group.
- The training of a focal person in the madrasa (eg the Mallam or a senior Almajiri) on the use of such medication.
- Provision of appropriate referral channel for cases not covered by the first aid treatment.
The eye tests are to be carried out in 10 model Madrasas nationwide where the target would be an average of 100 Almajiris per Madrasa the project is to run for 1 year.
This is to be done in cooperation of the traditional rulers, religious leaders, health workers and community leaders resident in the areas of project implementation.
This project cost which has been estimated will help in making the young vagrant scholars healthier while they pursue their education.
- To provide basic first aid treatment for minor ailments and injuries for vagrant scholars.
- To provide a well equipped first aid box in a Madrasa.
- To build capacity of a focal person in the Madrasa on the treatment of minor ailments and injuries.
- To facilitate referral of Almajiris whose symptoms/illness are beyond the scope of the focal persons limit.