ACHIEVEMENTS AND SHORTCOMINGS OF ALMAJIRI INTEGRATED SCHOOLS IN SOKOTO STATE: THE JOURNEY SO FAR
1.1 Background to the study
The issue of Almajirai has remained worrisome in the minds of northern elites. This is because the practice has been a source of embarrassment to the region. The concept of
Almajiri came as a result of Prophet Muhammad’s migration from Mecca to Medina. In Hausa land the term Almajiri could take any of the following forms; any person irrespective of gender, who begs for assistance on the street or from house to house as a result of some deformity or disability; children between the age of seven and fifteen who attend informal religious school who equally roam about with the purpose of getting assistance or alms; or even a child who engages in some form of labour to earn a living.
According to Muhammad (2010) the concept of Almajirieducationin Nigeria started in the days when the quest to acquire knowledge was prevalent, especially the Qur’anic knowledge by the Muslims, there were no laid down procedures or channels to adopt in obtaining such, except the unconventional way to a supposedly teacher, known as Malam. It was this Malam that now enlist the child to the teaching of religious scriptures and Islamic way of life are introduced to the young pupils. It was so perfect and rewarding that highly educated Sheikhs and Mullahs who became successful in life by holding positions of judges and teachers that were molding the minds of the young on how to become righteous and exemplary in their future lives. However, when the civilized life styles of the west started encroaching into the big cities of the north, some of these Malams became allured to the greed for money and started migrating to the cities and towns with their pupils and subjected them to vagaries of the streets.
He further explained that one teacher can register up to a hundred and more pupils who he singularly keeps, guides and control. To keep them fed and accommodated are also part of the teacher’s responsibilities. But nowadays even to keep and feed one hundred mouths is not easy, and perhaps impossible. But life must go on, and the pupils have to, as a must, acquire the knowledge their parents sent them to do. The little stipends the parents were able to give their wards for them and the teachers hardly sustains them for a month, so an alternative means of getting more income has to be employed. During the day time, when there are no classes the pupils are allowed to roam into the town and wander around until when classes were to begin. It is this going about around the town that affords the pupils to engage in menial jobs that fetches them some little amounts. This also was a kind of stopped by the people because they have other means of doing such jobs and so the pupils venture into house to house begging for remnants of food to eat. It is also said that the pupils take back part of this food to the teacher. It is clear from the above, that the teacher himself is gaining from the engagements of the pupils in the town, and can do anything to sustain it.
The system that was hitherto organized and well charted has now been bastardized and abused to the extent of letting our children roam streets and picking remnants of food leftover from dustbins. One other aspect of the system that has been abused nowadays is the degenerated value of trust and togetherness that our forefathers have lived and died with. This issue of lack of trust is as a result of the changing world in terms of orientation and our rush for acquiring the status of a civilized lot. Couple with this is also the government’s nonchalant attitude of fending for the citizenry that results in thousands of our youths daily roaming the streets looking for what to eat (Muhammad, 2010).
Integration of Almajiri education becomes necessary due to the predicaments of traditional Almajiri education system. Integration is the merging of the two system of education together i.e. the combination of the western system of education with Qur’anic system of education. The establishment of Almajiri Integrated Schools (A.I.S) across the country is one of the government’s intervention strategies to curtail the menace of street begging by children and youth in the name of pursuing Qur’anic education. The school is to accommodate the Almajiri who are coming to the city from far and near villages for Qur’anic knowledge. They mostly arrive without provisions and other essential needs; consequently they move from house to house, street, motor parks, restaurants and other public places. Gradually, they become exposed to child abuse, neglect, health hazard, hawking and other forms of social vices. Many of the Almajirai are orphans and vulnerable children. The purpose of the integration of the two system of education is to provideeducational opportunitiesfor these categories of children to acquire Traditional Qur’anic Education and Basic Western
Education so as to improve their living condition and empower the Almajirai and their Malams. This will also enable each state of the federation to achieve Education for ALL (E.F.A) and Millennium Development Goals (M.D.Gs).
The present Sokoto state government under the leadership of Dr. Aliyu Magatarkar Wamako has taken a bold step through the establishment of Almajiri Integrated Model School in Dange-Shuni and Almajiri Islamiyya Integrated Model School Gagi, Sokoto state. The Almajiri Schools, unlike other schools established under Ministry of Education or Ministry for Science and Technology, is established under the Ministry for Religious Affairs. Since the creation of the school, Almajiri within and outside the state has been enrolled while teaching and learning process had commence.
Therefore, this research work intends to investigate the achievements and shortcomings of the programme and student of Almajiri Integrated Model School DangeShuni and Almajiri Islamiyya Integrated Model School Gagi since inception with a view to proffer recommendations while highlighting their achievements and shortcomings.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The way Almajiri system of education is being practiced in the northern part of Nigeria and more particularly Sokoto is an eyesore that need urgent attention in order to rescue the situation. The Almajiri system of education has turned its students to tools for money making for their teachers. To feed and cloth themselves, they have to always roam about the streets, public and private places, begging for money. They also render services as plate washers in restaurants and even find themselves in nefarious places, which make some of the Almajiri to result in intermingling with bad people, engaging in prohibited conducts like pocket picking, stealing, or being mobilized to promote violence in return for money. They waste their time in other unnecessary activities instead of acquiring knowledge. These acts make them get exposed to diseases and other hazards.
Integration of the traditional Almajiri education becomes necessary in order to eradicate the problems associated with it. The reasons for the integration are to reinforce the talent of the learners to read, write and memorize the Qur’an and to introduce secular subjects into Qur’anic school thereby making the products literate, numerate and to provide adequate and qualitative instructional materials in both Islamic and secular subjects. Hence, this research focused to investigate the achievements and shortcomings of Almajiri Integrated Model Schools in Dange-Shuni and Almajiri Islamiyya Integrated Model School Gagi, Sokoto state in relation to the students’ performance and the integration programme itself.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The study has the general aim of finding out the achievements and shortcomings of Almajiri Integrated Model Schools in Dange-Shuni and Almajiri Islamiyya Integrated Model School Gagi, Sokoto state. The study has the following specific objectives:
i. To find out whether the schools have qualified teachers?
ii. To find out whether the government provide essential teaching materials for the schools? iii. To find out whether the school environments are conducive for teaching and learning process?
iv. To find out whether the students are coping with the integration programme?
v. To find out whether the schools receive adequate financial support from the government?
1.4 Research Questions
This work intends to find answers to the following questions:
i. Are there qualified teachers in the school?
ii. Is the government providing essential teaching materials for school? iii. Is the school environment conducive for teaching and learning process?
iv. Are the students coping with the integration programme?
v. Are the schools receiving adequate financial support from the government?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The information and findings of this study will be of great importance to government, non governmental agencies, teachers, and other stakeholders who are involved in Almajiri education. This will enable them to tackle the problems that the Almajiri and the programme are encountering. The parents will also find useful the contents and findings of this study as it will educate them more on the proper ways to educate their children.
It is also hoped that this study will add to the existing knowledge and literatures on integrated Almajiri education and as well serve as reference material for those who want to carry further investigation in the area.
1.6 Scope and Delimitation of the Study
This study will focus on Sokoto state and will be limited to the Almajiri integrated Model Schools in Dange-Shuni and Almajiri Islamiyya Integrated Model School Gagi, Sokoto state only.
Moreover, due to time factor, financial constraints and other unforeseen problems, the study will be restricted to the populations of Junior Secondary School Students of Almajiri Integrated Model School in Dange-Shuni and Almajiri-Islamiyya Integrated Model School Gagi, Sokoto state.
In addition, the study will also examine the progress of the programme and the problems faced by both the students and the school.
1.7 Definition of Terms
The following are the definitions of key concepts used in this study:
Almajiri: This refers to pupils/students of traditional Qur’anic school.
Malam: A person that has knowledge in diverse aspects of Islam
Integrated School: This refers to combination of joining of two systems of education together in one school
Traditional Qur’anic School: This refers to school boarding systems of non-formal education of Islamic Religious Knowledge..