Urban Poverty and Children with Difficult Circumstances in North Eastern Nigeria: Implications for Counseling
Improvement in the living standard and quality of life of Nigerians has been a recurrent issue of successive governments since independence in 1960. However, a review of social development policies by various authors points to an increase in urban poverty and reduced people-oriented development over the years. An assessment of the post independence period showed that poverty, unemployment, rapid decline in standards of living and quality of life have persisted in the country particularly in the urban areas. Different poverty survival strategies have been embarked upon by urban dwellers, one of which has led to the al-majirinisation of children. The al-majirin youths are a special type of street children created by poverty. Our objective was to analyse and characterize these children with a view to offering suggestions for their secure future. The study sought not only to understand the complexities of issues and system pertaining to the children involved in the al-majirin phenomenon, but also to analyse their perception in the context of urban poverty alleviation. We found that all the al-majirin children were from poor families, most of them from broken homes, and were educationally deprived. There is a seeming lack of awareness of the increasing existence of a larger number of al-majirin children and the long term effects on society as a whole. Some counseling recommendations were made based on our findings.
Keywords: al-majirin, mallams, foster children, urban poverty and street children, makaranta.