Abbas Yushau Yusuf
Recently there has been a controversy regarding a statement issued by the National Security Adviser that federal government is mooting the idea of banning Almajiranci in northern states. The statement generated uproar as government did not expatiate on how to go about the policy. Later, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said the ban is not an immediate one.
For almost a decade Nigeria has been confronted with security challenges like kidnapping, armed robbery and above all insurgency. Some individuals have associated the rising crime to neglect of the child especially in Northern Nigeria.
Almajiranci has been bastardized by the very people who are operating it. Many Nigerians from the South see it as a phenomenon that breeds crime, which is far from the truth.
Every society has a system of imparting knowledge to the people. Almajiri is a dignified being. The word Almajiri was derived from Arabic word Almuhajir. It means someone who migrated from his native town in search of knowledge, not a criminal as some ignorant people are insinuating.
It wasn’t so
In the olden days when a child was taken to a Tsangaya, that is, an Almajiri school, his father accompanied him with foodstuff and some dues to be given to the Qur’anic scholar who teaches and supervises the students from the first stage of learning to a time when the child will graduate.
The Almajiranci system of Qur’anic education is a great heritage among the Muslims in northern Nigeria and is among the best systems of acquiring sound knowledge. There are international Islamic scholars that are graduates of the Almajiranci system. Some have written the Qur’an, and have traversed this world.
Instead of banning Almajiranci there are ways that government can reform the system, so that the northern society will continue to wax stronger in terms of knowledge and scholarship.
The best knowledge among mankind is the knowledge of the Qur’an which is the word of Allah, our creator. There are many scientific words from the Qur’an that shape and guide old and emerging scientists the world over.
Statistics show that in Kano alone there are three million children roaming the streets and it is said that they are mostly Almajirai. Kano is the hub of northern Nigeria in every aspect of human endeavor and if the state is rotten many northern states will smell and they too will be rotten.
As a result of politics and incoherent policies, Kano state governments are not seriously exerting their power to reform the Almajiri system which other northern states may follow suit. Kano state Government under Ibrahim Shekarau took some steps to reform the system but successive governments in the state did not take steps to consolidate the achievement made by Shekarau on Almajiranci.
Mining Camps to the rescue
In one of the best discussions on Almajirai I had with a researcher in northern Nigeria Comrade Sabiu Sani Abubakar known as Comrade Mala, who is now called the Ambassador of Almajirai, he told me that there are ways to reform the system if northern governments are serious about it.
Comrade Mala conducted a research in Northern Nigerian states where they have Almajirai by sampling the schools. He found that they are still the best in giving Qur’anic knowledge to the people. He said as there are levels of education in formal schools across the world it’s also found at Almajirai School. His research revealed the following categories of Almajirai; Kotso, Kolo, Titibiri, Gardi, Alaramma, Gangaran, Gwani and Mahiru. Kotso corresponds to nursery pupils, Kolo; primary, Titibiri; junior secondary, Gardi; SSCE graduates, Alaramma; university graduates, Gangaran; Master’s degree holders, Gwani; PhD holders, while Mahiru corresponds to a professor.
Comrade Mala said for Kano to reform Almajiranci and gain employment for the teeming Almajirai and generate revenue the following strategy should be adopted. Kano state is blessed with sites where there are mines at Rano, Doguwa and Dambatta. The government should create mining camps at each site, where three thousand Almajirai at the level of Gardi would be employed.
The three mining camps should be set up in conjunction with foreign companies. The one thousand Almajirai in each camp will be spending six days mining for six hours with the exception of Friday. In each of the three camps the Almajira will spend 6 hours every day which is 36 hours. If you multiply the working hours by three months you will get 432,000 hours.
This will enable the Kano state government to generate N3billion quarterly. Part of the money will be used to feed the Almajiri workforce, pay them allowances and pay their tutors. The Almajirai could be taught science courses like Mathematics and Mining Technology in the camp. That would absolve them from indolence.
Unfortunately, talent is not honored in Nigeria.
Abbas Yushau Yusuf can be reached at email@example.com