Changing the System

Shuaib Sani Shuaib, Nigeria

Your Big Year
Jul 10 · 4 min read
Children in the Almajiri System

Your Project: Aichevers innovative Advocate international (AIA intl.)

You might see and think of child labor and out of school children issue as a thing of the past, but trust me it is not, at least for us here in Nigeria, courtesy of the Almajiri system. We are faced with this challenge through the Almajiri system involving an estimate of 13 million children throughout the country. These children are being rendered homeless, educationless and all together exposed to threat, and among them, those that survived are resilient in the face of all these adversities, a threat to society. It is an institutional failure. As acting Kano state director of Aichevers innovative Advocate international (AIA intl.), and with various sought out collaborations, we are working to change the narrative.

What was your Inspiration?

Well for me it is not much of inspiration but a wake-up call. Children as young as 3 years of age, sometimes younger or older, are been made to go through the Almajiri system, which comes with its hardship and various deprivations. It made me realize, that someone needs to do something, especially now that those children are presumably thought to have been used in posing security threats to Nigeria.

The system which was indigenously practiced in Northern Nigeria before the advent of western education was subjugated, abused and dismantled mainly because of its lack of ground rules to guide its conduct.

Initially, children enrolled in the Almajiri system are being lodged and mealed just like in contemporary boarding schools, and now on the contrary children are single-handedly and willingly handed over by their parents to a so-called “teacher,” without arrangement to carter for the aforementioned. Instead, they resort to begging for their upkeep and forced to do hard jobs like working on farmlands etcetera. I’m inspired to change lives by doing the needful for social growth and economic development.

What challenges have you faced?

Advocacy and call to action on this subject might not be universally accepted, especially with the fact that the steepest challenge is coming from the two of the most sensitive institutions; Political and Religious institutions, resorting to looking for a common ground for all parties involved is at the forefront; if abolishing the Almajiri system can not work let’s at least reform it into a better framework. It is something legislation can address, but acceptance by wider public especially people that still believe in the system and ultimately matters of implementation might be a problem. I look truthfully at making every stakeholder involved, to have an input as a way forward.

What you have found to be your best resources?

Studying a course on influencing change through policymaking at the Moller Institute’s Churchill College of the University of Cambridge, I learned that when it comes to driving change it’s important to start with the simplest thing you can work with. With the above assertion, I have found the following to be my best resources:

  • Human resources; a network of other organizations working on achieving the same goal, and making people especially those that are influential lend their voices.
  • Availability of various qualitative evidence; horrifying stories and occurrences, quantitative evidence; numeric statistics.
  • Various supportive international platforms like the international connector.
  • Consultative problem-solving approach with all the parties involved.
  • Ou soon to start 13million Almajiri campaign (1 Child 1 Person).
  • Also taking advantage of the present government’s renewed policy and commitment to ensure children enrollment in school, curb insecurity and ensure economic prosperity.

What advice do you have for your peers?

We can make the world what we want it to be, we just need to play our roles. We are youth and we are the future, we have to reshape our present and start creating the future; in the past, other people have done it for us, we have to do it for ourselves and the next generation too. You can’t change everything but you can change something.

What are your other projects?

  • To create a platform where young people can transform their ideas to reality for sustainable growth and development through leadership.
  • To champion the course of the SDGs.
Shuaib Sani Shuaib

Want to find out more?

  • Twitter: @AIAofficial @aiaofficialkano @dr_sshuaib
  • Website:
  • Email:

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