At 14, Abubakar Idris (not real name) would pass as a breadwinner for his family in Sabon Gari, Ungogo local government area of Kano state. He is always out in the streets, from morning to sometimes, night, hawking sachet water, just to keep his family going. Sometimes, he has to beg for alms.
On days when patronage is low, he switches to alamjiri (a term which is used to describe alms-seeking children). On lucky days, he gets N200 together with food and other edibles, but some days bring forth earnings as low as N20. He would take everything to the mother at home to return again the next day, a routine he has been on for almost a year.
“I sell mostly water together with other children in the market,” he told TheCable in Hausa during a recent visit. “My mother is doing business and my sister is in Gombe.”
Like Idris, Yusuf Mohammed (not real name) struggles to survive under the scorching sun of Kano, often finding his way into the suburbs where he spends a large chunk of his time as an almajiri. The 13-year-old told TheCable he was once within the four walls of the classroom but was withdrawn from school by his guardians to join other alamjiri.
“I used to be in the class with my friends but I later left in 2018,” he told the reporter as he clutched his bowl under one arm. “I will like to return to school,” he added before hurrying off to join the other children.
Idris and Mohammed are not alone; they are just a part of the estimated 10.5 million children who are out of school across Nigeria, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), or one of the three million children of primary school age in the state reportedly out of school.