The culture of the Almajiri system of education has grown its wings in the Northern region of Nigeria. This controversial method of Qur’anic education had its spread in the 19 Nigerian states of the federation which made up the Northern region of Nigeria.
However, one might perhaps imagine that some states such as Benue, Plateau, Kogi, and Kwara, etc. commonly states from the Northcentral geopolitical zone allowed this ‘hot buttoned’ adopted system of education in this current generation considering the security shape of the country.
Almajiri is not just an ordinary culture, it’s a mentality that has to do with knowledge-seeking from a distant location. Often times from villages to cities with the main objective of embracing Qur’anic teachings. One can assume the scheme is only meant for those who followed the Islamic ideology; that knowledge-seeking is the utmost mandate of Allah (God) for every human being. Now it has turned FAQ for the intellectuals to ask questions. How correct is this fact and mandate with the shambolic process in which the Almajiri culture of Qur’anic education is being practiced here in Nigeria.
Several findings have shown that this ‘dirty looking’ Qur’anic education was also adopted in some other African countries such as Mali, Senegal Togo, Niger, Chad, and Ghana, etc. The aims and objectives tend to serve as blessings to those under-age children, so the scheme also exposes them to a lot of danger. Most of their study activities are organized for hours not less than 8 to 10 hours a day. Thursdays and Fridays serve as their rest days, more or less like a break creating a personal moment for them to re-visit what the teacher has taught them earlier days during the weekdays.
Apart from studying how to memorize the holy Quran, do you know what these underage children do in other to survive their day-to-day livelihood? These little children have to turn themselves into avid beggars. Aside from the Qur’anic education, these children venture into house-to-house visitation in their host community to beg for items like clothes and food. Most time these children are turned into errand messengers and slaves to render domestic house assistance in exchange for clothes and food. Leftover foods and worn-out clothes are being considered to be given to these children in exchange for domestic services. In spite of rendering these services, some of them are being used for sexual pleasure, money rituals, and terror activities.
A report surfaced amidst the Covid-19 pandemic during the period of national lock-down in the year 2020. This report shows that in some northern states such as Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna, etc. these little children in hundreds contracted the deadly Covid-19 virus. In fact, it got to some extent that these states’ the government established evacuation policy for these little children to exit their state. So unfortunate, immediately after the ease of lock-down, this culture continues as usual without any consideration for the possible danger ahead.
Apart from the covid-19 threat, several elites in the country criticized this abnormal culture of Qur’anic education due to some facts and projections. United Nation of Children and Emergency Fund UNICEF’s report says 13 million Nigerians are out of school children, and one out of five of the world out-of-school children are Nigerians.
The former Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi often lamented on the scheme, his concern was that, the Almajiri system of education brings about making Nigeria one of the countries in the world that are far away from development in recent years. The dethroned Emir criticized the northern elites for allowing this kind of dirty culture in this generation.
Perhaps one might suggest that his truthfulness led to his dethronement. His dethronement was politically motivated by the present Kano state government, unto his linage, it is now becoming a generational curse because his grandfather was also dethroned from the same throne.
Taking a very critical look at the Almajiri scheme, the society cannot neglect some facts that the culture has so many things to do with child labour/slavery which totally go against the nation’s constitution. According to section 18 of the 1999 constitution as amended, free education should be given as a right to every citizen of Nigeria but as for the case of Almajiri system of education reverse is the case. And again according to some sections in the universal basic education UBE act, it is a crime for parents to never allow their children to attend school for western education.
We can now assume that Nigeria is a lawless country because everything that revolves around the Almajiri system of Qur’anic education is totally against the laws of the land.
Several individuals in Nigeria have proposed some reasonable techniques to make the rotten Almajiri system of education things of the past, but doubt if the kind of governance we practice in Nigeria would rightfully take these kinds of measures into consideration.
Although, some states in northern Nigeria such as Kano, Katsina, Kaduna etc. Have passed the provision which prohibits the dirty culture into law in their state parliamentary assemblies. This is not a new phenomenon that some Nigerian states government are very active when it comes to paperwork, and suddenly become dead when it comes to policy implementation.
The immediate federal government administration led by former President Goodluck Jonathan made some vital attempts to bring these children back to school by building over 140 modern schools in northern Nigeria for the Almajiri children to leverage this sad situation. This happened 7 years ago.
One of the objectives of the past administration was to execute a project like this focusing on the less privileged young Nigerians is to establish a school that will accommodate both the Qur’anic education and western education altogether for these Almajiri children in a conducive atmosphere.
It was like bitter honey for Nigerians when the former president lost his re-election seat to the incumbent president General Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 presidential election poll. Nigerians massively voted him out of power due to his inability to tackle the persistent problems of insecurity as of then.
As soon as he lost the presidential seat and General Buhari was sworn in into office, some of his projects and policies were set aside which affected all the buildings his administration built to leverage the problem of child labour and out-of-school children during his reign. In fact, all these buildings are now in dilapidating condition, more or less like a burnt palace.