The Integrated Almajiri Education: The New Face of Youth Empowerment-By Miriam Humbe    Newsdiaryonline Sat Mar 5,2011


For years now, the menace of idle children and youths roaming the streets begging all in the name of acquiring education has been a source of concern for policy makers in Nigeria. Recent studies conducted by the Ministerial Committee on Madrasah Education puts the population of Almajiri at about 10 million. 

It therefore becomes obvious that for Nigeria to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EPA) goals, there is the need for an accelerated intervention by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).

The commitment demonstrated by government in setting up an Implementation Committee on Almajiri Education is highly appreciated.

At various levels, stakeholders especially governments of the affected Northern States have devised various ways to deal with the social pandemic with little or no success inspite of their policy intervention. Children of school age and youths who should have been in productive engagement continued to roam the streets with neither succour nor future, until now.

The Integrated Almajiri Education is essentially designed by the Federal Government under President Goodluck Jonathan to integrate the Islamic School system to provide quality education for these target population.In order to achieve this, the Jonathan Goodluck administration put in place a policy framework which focuses on two critical levels.

The first is engagement with the rationalisation of the existing traditional system of Islamic education with a view to addressing existing problems and challenges, consolidating achievements and expanding opportunities for the growth and development of the system.Secondly, the mainstreaming and promotion of a dynamic Almajiri Education Model, which seeks to integrate effectively Islamic disciplines and conventional school subjects, instil values and morals; provide dual language competency in English and Arabic; and cultivate a culture of educational excellence. 

The board policy goals and objectives for the development of Almajiri Education in Nigeria among other things, include ensuring the institutional development of Islamic School system and the provision of requisite infrastructural and welfare facilities such that it functions as a true Almajiri Education system.The framework also seeks to address effectively and on a long-term basis, the challenges facing the traditional Islamic Education Sector, especially as they relate to itinerancy and begging. 

It also provides viable educational platforms and model Almajiri schools that could steadily and effectively integrate conventional disciplines into Islamic Education System, providing basic education access to all children  of school age throughout the country.

Other broad policy goals and objectives also include the provision of quality products that are imbued with the disciplines, character, knowledge and skills to enable them take full advantage of available opportunities and  participate effectively and meaningfully in the socio-economic and political life of the nation.

To achieve these objectives, the federal government laid out a regulatory framework. One of the key factors which had aggravated the problems of the traditional Islamic Education System was the lack of a regulatory mechanism. 

Boarding *Tsangaya* Schools were established without reference to carrying capacity or ability to accommodate and feed the pupils. *Alarammas* moved with pupils at will without being hindered by the existing laws.

The purpose of the regulatory framework is to address four related issues. Among them is primary itinerancy where an *Alamaran* moves with his students, especially during the dry-season month (Ci-rani), usually to the urban centres. The central focus of the Almajjiri Education Framework as earlier stated, is on the institutionalisation of Islamic Education.

Also, secondary itinerancy which is a situation where students were recruited from one part of the country and sent to another part for the purpose of pursuing their Quranic studies with no adequate institutional facilities and resources to take care of them. The issue of *bara* (begging for alms) usually associated with both primary and secondary itinerancy.

While registering schools, as it is done within the conventional school system, government shall as much as possible, avoid taking a purely legalistic approach to putting in place a regulatory regime. Efforts shall be made to engage with the proprietors and re-establish confidence in government promises as well as put in place, an incentives regime.Enforcement is best done at the community level with the assistance of the traditional rulers, Islamic organisations and the ‘Ulama’.

In many States, with large urban centres, the integrated *Islamiyyah*, * Ma’ahad* and *Tahfeez* Primary and Secondary Schools have been playing a pivotal role in the provision of a model Almajiri institution which offers an integrated curriculum that will go a long way in supporting these efforts. State governments, State Universal Basic Educations (SUBEBs) shall collaborate with UBEC and other federal agencies to make this possible.

Existing integrated institutions could also benefit from the Curriculum and Instrumental materials that could be developed for the project. 

There are many Tsangayas in several states which have a long history behind them and which could be assisted to convert Madrasah Diniyah (Religious Madrasah). As efforts are made to regulate smaller Tsangayas and transform them into Islamiyyah Schools, these Madaris Diniyyah shall eventually constitute the backbone of the traditional Islamic Education System.

The Madrasah Diniyyah category of Islamic Schools shall have all the requisite infrastructure as well as welfare facilities and shall be sustained through an endowment that shall be worked out appropriately by the relevant authoritie 

The Madrasah Diniyyah shall accommodate Basic Education during weekends (Thursday s and Fridays) and its products could be mainstreamed into the Formal Arabic and Islamic School System.

Very many Islamiyyah and Tahfeez Primary Schools are there which are run by community groups. However, many of these schools, as a result of lack of funding are unable to provide quality Islamic and basic education. Governments shall support such community schools and assist them through grant-in-aid and other measures to improve their standards. By so doing, here would be many more spaces for children in such types of schools.

Islamiyya and Tahfeez general schools are those which have a formal structure but don’t have any conventional subjects content in their curricula. With government support, the proprietors of such schools willingly will convert them into Islamiyya and Tahfeez primary schools.

Such schools are in abundance in rural areas and many more are being established. As more of such schools get transformed, more children will be able to get quality comprehensive education that has both Islamic and basic education components. 

Makarantun Allo and Tsangaya schools, in general, do not teach conventional subjects as part of their curriculum. Indeed, their curriculum concentrates exclusively on the recitation and memorisation of the Holy Qu’ran. Introducing some element of basic education into their curriculum would expand their horizons and widen their skill-sets. The teaching of basis education is usually done on Thursdays and Fridays and does not interfere with the regular programmes of the Tsangaya.

While the focus of most “integrationists” has been the integration of conventional school subjects into the Islamic School system, it is also important to introduce more periods for teaching Islamic disciplines in the conventional school system. This has the far reaching effect of helping to boost enrolment and retention, especially in rural schools in the predominantly Mushin areas.

In recognising the problems of implementing a standard curriculum in the Islamic Education system as well as the curriculum sources for the sub-sector, the Universal Basic Education shall develop a field test, a standard and scientifically designed Basic Education Curriculum for the Almajiri Education System. This could be used by the Islamiyya and Tahfeez Primary and Junior Secondary Schools as well as other model schools.

The educational system shall also develop textbooks and other instructional materials based on the developed curricula. The curriculum development and supervision of Junior and Senior Arabic and Islamic Secondary Schools shall be at the instance of the National Board for Arabic and Islamic Studies, NABAIS, of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, which should be strengthened and assisted by UBEC to undertake the task more effectively.

While efforts shall be made to develop specialised teacher education programme for Almajiri schools, the National Commission or Colleges of Education, NCCE shall establish a special programme, NCE (Almajiri Education Studies) to facilitate certification and professional development of teachers in this sub-sector. The programme could be mounted by selected Colleges of Education, the National Teachers Institute, through its distance learning programme or by Colleges of Islamic and Legal Studies.

Almajiri Teachers Scheme, ATS, shall be established by UBEC, the Federal Ministry of Education and participating states to supply qualified Basic Education teachers to the Almajiri School system. The sector could also take advantage of the current Federal Teachers Scheme, FTS, to meet its urgent needs.

The Grant-in-Aid System that shall be worked out to assist the Almajiri Education Sector should place a high premium not only on enrolment but also on teacher quality.

The Management of the Almajiri Education Programme shall be done by the National Implementation Committee on Almajiri Education under UBEC, to verse all aspects of Almajiri Education Development in Nigeria. To achieve this goal, a national coordinator shall be appointed to run the programme at the national level to coordinate the activities of the secretariat.

State Almajiri Education Implementation Committee shall be established at the State level to oversee all aspects of Almajiri education development in the state. State coordinators shall be appointed to run the Almajiri Education programme at the state level, while State Universal Basic Education boards shall oversee the implementation at the state level.

The Federal Government shall fund the Almajiri Education through allocations from Universal Basic Education (UBE), Fund, Education Trust Fund, ETF and office of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, States and Local governments.

States and Local Governments shall specifically support the Almjiri Education Programme in terms of welfare and allowances and also assist with the development of infrastructure for both the Tsangaya and the Islamiyyah Schools

Almajiri Education Trust Fund will be established at the state level, through the mediation of traditional rulers and other leaders of thought, to support infrastructural development of Tsangaya and Islamiyyah Schools.

Through the offices of the Islamic Development Bank, IDB, a waft (endowment) institution shall be set up along with other institutions to ensure the sustainability of Almajiri Education.

Government will also do with support from the organised private sector, International Development Partners, IDPS, Non-Governmental Organisations, NGOs, Faith Based Organisations, FBOs and other agencies interested in supporting the education and welfare of the Almajiri.

The Universal Basic Education as the main agency of Basic Education inNigeria shall put in place a monitoring and evaluation system to ensure thesuccess of the Almajiri Education Programme.


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