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A Tale Of Out Of School Kids - Education - Nairaland

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A Tale Of Out Of School Kids by ismailibnbashir: 10:25am On Jan 06, 2019
Commonly referred to as Yaro and Yarinya, they are kids who do all kinds of menial job for students at the Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto (UDUS). They are of school age, but they are not in school. Ironically, they are literally working as drawers of water and hewers of wood in a school. Some of them will like to go to school, but the opportunity is not there, report, EMELIFE UC.
SOME street kids practically live on the Usmau Danfodio University, Sokoto (UDUS) campus.
The children, aged between 0 and 17 and referred to as Yaro (for males) and Yarinya (for females), are from communities around the institution. Instead of going to school, they work day in and out on the campus.
Students are used to seeing them, tattered and unkempt, perching on the windows of lecture halls with faces that suggest a longing for education; or they are found with buckets and trays hawking tiger nuts popularly called ‘Aya’ and water packed in sachets under the scorching sun; or most likely around the hostels running around seeking for errands for a small fee.
When they are not moving door-to-door seeking tasks to accomplish, they play ‘Langa’ – a game that requires strength and stamina. In playing Langa, the participants stand in a queue and push one another with their right arm, while the left holds up the left leg and it gets them hopping. Whoever falls in the process leaves the game.
They play this game with so much delight and enthusiasm, and at each point forget their worries or sorrows.
In the past, some of the children used to attend Quranic schools known as Islamiya. But there is evidence that this is no longer the case because they are almost always found on campus, especially at the beck and call of students in the hostels.
This sad turn of event is partly caused by the youngster’s early exposure to money, says Isaac Paul, who resides in a male hostel.
“Their school-attending contemporaries envy the ones that make money and wish to have what they have, so they quit Islamiya and join the mass of kids in the hostel that do nothing but work and work and work, and squander the realised money on junk food,” he said.
Do these children have parents, families? They do. This reporter found that they have homes in communities around the school. Their parents are farmers, shepherds, janitors on campus. Many of them are not literate, which may explain their lackadaisical attitude to their children’s affair.
Although, some of them try to get their wards spiritually educated by sending them to Quranic schools, many of them do not follow up to find out if they actually attend.
A female student, Faith Makama, told PEN PRESS UDUS that some of the children work in their uniforms, which suggests that rather than go to school, they mill around the hostels.
“Half the kids that do my work are always in uniform. They shy away each time I ask why,” Faith said.
Some UDUS students think that parents of many of these child labourers perceive western education as sinful.
They claimed to have observed how some parents look at them like they are wayward for being educated, and they pass on the misconception to their wards, who grow to believe that western education is a pool of sin they should never swim in.
Early marriage is another factor that keeps especially the Yarinyas out of school.
Charles Mabel, a 200-Level student said that some weeks ago, a girl who does not look more than 14 years old was seen distributing freebies to celebrate her engagement.
However, contrary to popular opinion, some of these children desire to go to school.
One night, Faith said she was shocked to find one of the Yaros attempting to read a discarded piece of writing beside a tap.
“I wanted to get some water, then I found this Yaro boy reading. I was shocked at how near fluent he was and was tempted to question him,” she said.
Faith said her curiosity eventually got the better of her and she asked the boy if he wanted to go to school. He said yes, but when she went further to inquire why he was not in school, he gave a smile that failed to mask the sadness in his eyes.
Pen Press UDUS once found a Yarinya willing to go to school and also got a sponsor for her primary and secondary education. However, they were greatly disappointment when they learnt that the girl was married off before the agreed date for her to start school.
The Editor-in-Chief at the time, said: “Everything was set. We had a sponsor, school kit, everything. But when we came for this bright child, she had already been married off.”
Apart from loss of education, the children as a result of this exposure get into harm’s way. PEN PRESS UDUS learnt of a recent case of a Yarinya who was sexually harassed by a student. There have also been cases where students maltreat the children without regard for their age or health.
Also, many students do not feel anything but contempt for them because of the heinous crimes they commit.
Nathan, a 200-Level student, said they deserve no pity.
“Those children don’t deserve any form of pity. They are growing stubborn by the day,” he said. His rage may not be unconnected with several reported cases of deliberate crimes committed by the children.
Last semester, a group of masked Yarinyas ganged up and attacked a female student who does not wish to be named.
She said they threatened to stab her if she did not hand over her phone.
Another student, who simply called himself John said he was hit in the head with a wood by a Yaro while having a pee, and his phone stolen.
“I was easing myself when these boys crept from behind and hit my head with a stick. Before I could get a hang of what was going on, my phone was gone with them,” he said.
Another student claimed she gave a Yarinya a cup to rinse but caught her peeing in it.
Petty crimes like theft of pots and cooking utensils – and even a meal cooking on fire – are common cases.
Some students claim that the struggle to survive, envy and revenge may be reasons why the children turn to crime.
Having to fend for themselves, they may be forced to steal; while some do so out of envy because they see students enjoying things they can only dream of. Some others also commit crime to revenge against students who ill-treat them.
Jethro Ibitoye, a humanitarian, who has made it a point of duty to farmiliarise with these kids, especially the Yaros, however said not all of them are bad.
He shared how one of them no longer stays idle in the hostel looking for work or what to steal.
“He saved up so much and got a bucket. He now sells chilled sachet water to students in the hostel and beyond,” Jethro said.
If the boy were to be educated, how much better would he be?

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