Nigeria’s ‘Oliver Twist’ pupils at risk of Islamist recruiters

At the Goni Habib madrassa in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, the hardest lesson takes place not in the classroom, but out in the streets. 

Every morning, lunchtime and evening, between gruelling hours of Quranic rote-learning, each pupil puts down his ancient quill pen, grabs a cheap plastic bowl, and puts on a pleading expression. 

Then they head out to beg for their keep – for an hour between lessons after dawn, three hours in late morning, and two hours in the evening.

"The families who send their children here are very poor themselves, and there are too many for the school to feed them," said Ousman Habib, 50, who has more than 300 pupils aged 5-15 in his care. "Begging is the only way."…

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