Problem of Almajiri System In Kano State
The word ‘Almajiri’ is derived from the Arabic word ‘Almuhajirun’ migrants. It refers to a traditional method of acquiring and memorizing the Glorious Qur’an in Hausa/Fulani land where boys at their tender ages are sent out by their parents or guardians to other villages, towns or cities for Qur’an education under a knowledgeable Islamic scholar called Malam. According to Bambale (2003), Almajirai (plural of Almajiri) are categorized into 3 classes: 1. Gardi (adult). 2. Titibiri (adolescent) and 3. Kolo (an infant)
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 Muhammd’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 Muhammed (2010) the concept of Almajiri education in Nigeria started in the olden days when the quest to acquire knowledge was prevalent, especially the Koranic knowledge by the Muslims, there were no laid down procedures or channels to adopt in obtaining such, except the unconventional way of handing over wards to a supposedly teacher, known as Mallam. It was this Mallam that now enlist the child and the teaching of religious scriptures and way of life are indoctrinated into the young pupils. It was so perfect and rewarding that highly educated Sheikhs and Mullas who became successful in life by holding positions of judges and teachers that were moulding 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 Mallams became allured to the greed for money and started migrating to the cities and towns with their pupils and subjected them to the vagaries of the streets. He further explains that one teacher can register up to a hundred and more pupils who he singularly keeps, guides and controlled. 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 stretch 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 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 trusts is as a result of the changing world in terms 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 result in thousands of our youths daily roaming the streets looking for what to eat (Muhammed, 2010).
Integration of almajirai education becomes necessary due to the predicaments of traditional almajirai educational 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 (AIS) across the country is one of the governments’ 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 Qura’nic knowledge. They mostly arrive without provisions and other essential needs; consequently they move from house to house, street, motor packs, 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 provide educational opportunities for 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 (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs