Society

The Reality of Almajiri System (II)

This article is a continuation of my previous article titled, “Reality of Almajiri System (I)” in which I dissected the historical background of the Almajiri System, how it is bastardized and its glaring effects. This piece would attempt to proffer solutions to the scourge.

Everybody knows that the Almajiri system is not helping matters if we can objectively compare it to it’s early stage. The way Almajiris are learning today is absolutely unprofessional and not well structured, which make them spend many years without learning the complete Qur’an. Instead of carrying out their primary responsibilities, they are wholly exploited by Mallams, who selfishly expose them to farming and other hard labours without any incentive in return.

To understand and solve the problem of Almajiri system, some persons have expressed their views as follows:

Kabiru Inuwa, a social commentator, is of the view that the problem is all-engaging and demands the involvement of government, people and institutions.

According to him, “there is no way we can tackle the menace without incorporating all stakeholders, the ulama, the intelligentsia, business communities, and government at various levels -which must including those of neighbouring states including Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Cameroon and Ghana. It may interest you, to know that most of the Almajiris roaming the streets in Nigeria are from these other countries, though many people don’t want here that.”

Adinlofu calls for the abolition of almajiri system through intervention of progressive elements.

His words: “there is a need for the progressive intellectuals in the North to really sit up and begin to re-educate and conscientized the Talakawas and the Almajiris in their midst. I am yet to really come to grasps with what the contemporary progressives in the North are doing to woo the above two categories, who are system – dispossessed and economically disadvantaged, to their own side in the struggle to emancipate the Northern region, and perhaps by extension, Nigeria.”

Also, Alhaji Sale Aminu, a retiree and a cleric in Katsina, said the Almajiri system has no justification in Islam and the Quran and won’t be missed if thrown away by the federal government, adding that many experts and Muslim faithfuls were in support of the proposed abolition of Almajiri system.

“Parents of Almajiri should be encouraged to take care of their children and wards instead of sending them to (Islamic schools) teachers without making any provision for their children’s feeding, clothing, shelter and Medicare.

“You will be surprise to discover that parents in as far as Maradi (Niger Republic) and Maiduguri (Borno State) send their children to Katsina when the children could easily remain with their parents and still acquire Islamic knowledge.

“Giving a child Islamic education does not necessarily mean sending away from home, a child could go to school and come back so that his parents can give him the desired parental care and attention. So, government plan to ban Almajiri system is a welcome development.

“Neither Islam nor the Quran says you must send your child outside to acquire education,” he insisted.

The Reality Of Almajiri System (Ii) 2
Almajiris in their Qur’anic school (tsangaya)

A Katsina-based scholar and parent, Mallam Lawal Saidu, said the Almajiri system would improve if there is legislation to regulate the untamed migration of children to towns and cities in search of knowledge.

“Previous governments allowed the Almajiri system to go completely out of control because there ought to be a legislation that would regulate the movement of children. If you look at it, it is purely an economic issue because some parents at the grassroots have more children than they can cater for, so the only option left is to send them to urban areas under the guise of seeking for knowledge.

“I believe compulsory basic education would solve the problem if people are compelled to enroll their children into primary schools, if government steps up the provision of necessary facilities to absorb the pupils and there is improvement in the socio-economic well-being of the people in the rural areas.

Certainly, there must be additional school facilities and legislation for ban on Almajiri system of education to succeed,” he stated. [Source: Baobab Africa]

As part of the measures to practically correct the anomaly, there is need for the government to provide strict rules and regulation that will guide the system.

Anybody sending his child to the school must equally provide him with food, shelter and must be visited constantly.

Our educated Islamic Scholars (Ulama’) should also come in and offer their expertise and interpret the Shari’ah to a layman level. They also have the duty to sit with these parents and talk to them ‘in tones ripe with humility, respect and eloquence’. – This is the Da’awah , their mandate.

Parents also need to be enlightened on the evil of sending their children away to acquire knowledge in excruciating circumstances that defeats the original purpose of the intention.

The Reality Of Almajiri System (Ii) 3
Almajiris reading their slates (Allo)

Parents should ensure they give their wards the right upbringing so that they would grow up to become better citizens. There is also need for government to include and subsidize Islamic system of education in Islamic states within its curriculum. By doing that, people will have no reason of sending their children to Tsangaya school since government subsidizes the learning process.

The northern states should begin programmes of compulsory free education up to secondary school, adult education and criminalise the practice of parents hurling under-age children on to the streets.

A study found that after years of hungry existence with the mallams, the ability or knowledge of almajiris in reciting the Koran is far below that of children who live with their parents and attend both Western schools and Koranic schools, exposing the offensive value of the aberrant system.

The government of all three tiers at all three levels, especially the 12 so-called Shariah States of the North, the region’s leaders, and their consultative forum, must as a matter of urgency, ‘implement the final negotiated rendezvous point’. – This is the real Shari’ah, the Child Right Act.

Northern Governors and South western Governors should integrate all their schools with Islamic education, starting from nursery and up to secondary, so that children will get both Islamic as well as western education.

Such integrated system will assist greatly towards solving the problem of begging by the Almajiris, because the Islamic education that parents want is now integrated in government schools of their domain, so there is no need for them to send their children elsewhere.

Additionally, such integrated system will stop Muslims from sending their children out for seeking Islamic knowledge, since it is available in the government schools of their domains.

All states should set up child rehabilitation centres, pull in the hapless children and return them, where possible, to their parents and guardians. Any parent who, henceforth, abuses his child by pushing him out onto the streets should be prosecuted.

The Reality Of Almajiri System (Ii) 4
An Almajiri eating food

In the end, the governments could absorb the Mallams to the salary level of the school teacher, to be posted to the rural communities to teach under the patronage of their respective ward-heads. Allocated a parcel of farmland, an accommodation and given a monthly renumeration.

To be realistic, it will be naive to assume that this will be a smooth ride. Anticipate resistance. There could be revolt and it may go violent. The system had been in our veins far too long, yet abolishing it is necessary. Sooner or later, this task must be done, and is doable only if we have the will and the resolve.

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