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Published On: Fri, Aug 8th, 2014

Tsangaya Integrated Qur’anic School yet to make impact in Bauchi

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Isa Yuguda

Isa Yuguda

The campaign to reform the Almajiri system in the North is still at crossroads. From an optimistic projection years ago , that the end of the worst forms of the practice was in sight, but this report by Peoples Daily’s Ahmed Kaigama in Bauchi, casts doubt on whether that goal can be reached in the near future.

Studies have shown that childhood is the most innocent stage in a human life. It is that phase of life where a child is free from all tensions, is fun-loving, plays and learns new things, and above all the sweetheart of the family members. But this cannot be said for Almajiri children in Northern Nigeria. Their lives are full of tensions and burdens. Here, the innocent child is not the sweetheart of the family members, instead he works hard the entire day in order to satisfy the needs and wants of his supposed guardian, who is saddled with the responsibility of teaching him the Qur’an, with love and care. Eliminating or reforming the Al-majiri phenomenon is viewed as one of the biggest challenges facing the nation.

According to statistics, it is estimated that one out of every 16 Nigerians and one out of every seven Nigerian Muslims is an Almajiri. Granted that their number is a million in Northern Nigeria alone, they are estimated to be about 10 million in number.

In Bauchi state, as other northern states, these children are put under the tutelage of Islamic teachers, whom they refer to as Mallam, with the aim of teaching them Qur’anic education. But far from it, they are subjected to the aforementioned characterized by neglect and exploitation. They are made to beg on the streets every day by their teachers who are supposed to be the care giver. Most times, the food they eat depends on what they bring in and by extension source of livelihood for their Mallams.

This was to find expression in the words of the Bauchi State Director General on Tsangaya Education, Sheikh Sidi Ali Dahiru Bauchi. He said that there are about one million almajirai in Bauchi State while more than half of them rely on begging to survive.

Sheikh Sidi Dahiru, noted that in a bid to address the problem of begging among the Tsangaya pupils, the state government embarked on multi-dimensional strategies which include the establishment of modern Islamic colleges with facilities to train them in both Western and Islamic education and acquisition of skills.

He also stated that government provides succor to the teachers and pupils through provision for feeding, clothing, and assisted them with generator sets and motorcycles to ease their way of learning.

However, the schools and teachers being unregulated poses great danger as government will not be able to know the curriculum, number and proprietors.

In traffic everyday around city and towns of the state, you see small boys with plastic bowls begging for alms. They are exposed to unsavoury weather conditions, most times on barefoot.

Peoples Daily, in an interview with one of the almajiris, Nafiu Rabiu, who is 13, and hails from Gaya Local Government Area of Kano state, Nafiu said he is currently receiving Koranic education at Nasarawa Jahun area of Bauchi metropolis. He was seen roaming about around Ahmadu Bello way as early as 8 .00 am looking for food to eat.

According to Rabiu, who came to Bauchi in 2013, “my parents live in Kano state, I came to Bauchi last year alone, because my parents have been promising to bring me to Bauchi for Islamic education but they were always complaining of transport fare. So, I went to the motor park and entered a bus which cost me N1, 000 to Bauchi, and now I’m currently under a Mallam in Jahun area” he said.

Rabiu informed, they normally come out on Thursdays and Fridays which were their free days as well as other free hours to beg for food and money for sustenance.

It was estimated that over 500,000 children are in Bauchi for such purpose. Most of them were said to have come from neighboring states like Kano, Jigawa, Gombe States etc. In addition to studying the Qur’an, they are also taught to be self-reliant by doing menial work like farming and sewing caps. Unfortunately, they are hindered by the fact that the Koranic teachers cannot care for them enough, which automatically turned them to beggars in their land.

Given the fact that the almajiris are subjected to all kinds of vices, a lot have died as a result of hunger, disease, violence in the streets while those who make it usually complete the reading of the Holy Qur’an and eventually take up some trades.

Reports indicate that with the introduction of Tsangaya model school by President Goodluck Jonathan, hopes are high that it will eradicate the problem of street begging engaged by the Alimajiris. The administration of President Jonathan had set up 143 out of the projected 400 Almajiri Model schools in the North and few southern states of the country for a targeted population of 10million less privileged children who are out of school.

In Bauchi state, the state government has embraced this system of education with a view to impart Qur’anic knowledge in the pupils (almajiris) and also introduced elements of western education so that they could learn both the religious and modern knowledge at the same time.

Investigation by Peoples Daily showed that despite these efforts, some of these alimajiri still roam the streets begging for food and looking unkept.

Continuing, Rabiu who said about eight to 10 Alimajiri children sleep in one room due to inadequate accommodation denied having knowledge of any Tsangaya school in the state.

He said, “I am not aware of any modern school and I am not ready to go where I don’t know because I am happy staying with our Mallam in Jahun.

Speaking to our correspondent, another Almajiri, Sani Mohammed who is 12 years old said he came from in Sunkani village of Taraba State to learn the Qur’an.

“I was brought to Bauchi two years back to learn the Qur’an by my parents. Since then I have not set my eyes on them again but they do send cloths to me and sometimes money”.

Asked if he knows about the Tsangaya Integrated Qur’anic School, Mohammed said he doesn’t have any idea about the school since he came to Bauchi to attend the school his parents brought him to attend. “I will stay to attend that school until I graduate and become mallam to also teach others the way I was taught.

However, the Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Isa Yuguda has said in a public function that the Tsangaya model school was aimed at introducing elements of Basic education into the Quranic school system without interfering with the goals of the Qur’anic education system.

“It is meant to ensure that products of the schools acquire a sound mastery of the Quran commensurate with their age and level of understanding as well as acquire knowledge skills and appropriate attitude towards Islam and Islamic studies.

According to Yuguda ,”Other objectives of the Tsangaya model school are the provision of decent learning environment and ensuring the security and wellbeing of their pupils. The system would also enhance the possibility of the social and economic survival and mobility of its products.

He also assured that the introduction of the Tsangaya model school will address insecurity challenges in the Northern states. He described the introduction of Tsangaya education as an important decision taken by the present administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, saying it will go a long way to tackle the problem of education.

He expressed optimism that in the next 5 years with the Tsangaya education system, Northern states will be highly educated, developed and secured.

However, the Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Isa Yuguda has said at a public function, that the Tsangaya model school was aimed at introducing elements of Basic Education into the Quranic school system without interfering with the goals of the system.

According to Yuguda “Other objectives of the Tsangaya model school are the provision of decent learning environment and ensuring the security and wellbeing of their pupils. The system would also enhance the possibility of the social and economic survival and mobility of its products.

A cross section of residents who spoke on the issues of almajirai in the state, were of the opinion that if the People Democratic Party (PDP) under the administration of GoodLuck Jonathan comes back to power in 2015, the Almajiri School System may not be sustained because once the desire of winning election is achieved, nothing really matters anymore.

Experts have said that government at all levels must ensure that all children have the chance to go to school, and that there is the need for protection systems that support vulnerable families, particularly at times of crisis and the need to ensure that adults have a chance of decent work. These measures, combined with effective enforcement of laws that protect children, provide the way forward.

 

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