Sokoto State is one of the northern states seeking to reform the Almjairi system of education to check out-of-school numbers and begging by the children. ADAMU SULEIMAN reports on the state’s efforts to modify rather than abolish the system.
Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, have risen to embrace the remodeling of the Almàjiri Qur’anic education system by adopting the Indonesian Pondok system in order to discourage the street roaming and begging syndrome prevalent in the north.
Tambuwal said the government would not give in to calls by some people to ban the Almajiri system as done in other states but rather will remodel it.
Tambuwal’s remark came at the close of a two-day workshop on the modernisation of the almajiri system and adaptation of the Indonesian Pondok system.
“We are not banning the Almajiri Qur’anic education system as some quarters urged us to like in other states.
“Our resilience for the initiative is not just to adopt it but ensure a sustained and workable plan for acceptable solutions that would last the expectations of its drivers,” he said.
The governor described the workshop as an indication of a success-driven project that would upgrade and improve the state’s education system.
He said a committee would be put in place to drive the adaptation of the Pondok system with the Almajiri system.
“I wish to appreciate UNICEF intervention programme in the state education sub sector especially towards actualising the model. And for this reason, the state government will come up with a standing committee under the leadership of Malam Lawal Maidoki for the realisation of the desired success of the programme transformation process”, he said.
On his part, Sultan Abubakar urged stakeholders to put politics aside to promote the initiative in the overall interest of educating vulnerable children and ending the trend of street begging in the north.
The reverred monarch recalled that he and many others were products of the traditional Almajiri system but nothing linked their quest for Arabic and Islamic knowledge with begging.
“Parents must be sensitised against allowing their children to resort to begging, a practice that Islam abhors in totality.
“We were not encouraged to beg in any guise but to strictly seek knowledge”, he said, adding that all hands must be on deck to deepen awareness and sustain call against the fast emerging trend which is unpalatable.
The royal father also called on the Federal Government to support the state in funding the initiative.
“Make funds available through educational agencies as UBEC, SUBEB and others to states committed to the project with vigour. Nothing works without funds,” he said.
The Sultan also called on traditional and religious leaders to also support the GBV crusade and other lifesaving programmes aimed at salvaging negative Nigerian child.
“We are efficiently driving the objectives to curtail or mitigate the negative trend and consequences associated with the socio- moral ills on the society as protection for the future of young ones.
“It is our duty to close ranks and salvage as well as protect lives for the continued meaningful existence and survival of humanity by providing the necessary instruments of development educationally”, he said.
In her remarks, Presidential Adviser on Social Investment, Maryam Uwais who also appreciated the initiative, explained that it was in tune with President Muhammadu Buhari’s template to empower and reduce poverty among Nigerians.
She noted that the Pondok system was fundamentally driven to address socio-economic challenges faced by children.
Throwing more light on the Pondok system, the Executive Secretary, Sokoto State Arabic and Islamic Education Board, Dr. Umar Aliyu Dandin Mahe, said the remodeling would entail getting government and and non-government support for sustainability of the initiative.
“We have noted that the system Indonesia is either owned by individuals or community-regulated and assisted by the Federal Ministry of Religious Affairs through its departments in the states .
Read Also: Sultan: street begging, Almajiri not Islamic
“To his end, we embarked on rigorous advocacy and mobilisation for support from government, well-meaning individuals and organisations.
“We also push further to organise capacity building programmes for proprietors of Qur’anic schools with successes at Bangi, Awulkiti, Karfen Chana and Karfen Sarki all in Gudu Local Government Area where the system’s four components had been incorporated with the support of old Almajiri students”, he said.
While disclosing that the system initiatives would be piloted in collaboration with relevant agencies, Dandin Mahe said he was optimistic the three tiers of government could drive the course effectively.
“We are hopeful that our dream of reforming, modernising and mainstreaming of all Almajiris, vulnerable children and girl hawkers into formal education system will be a reality even as earlier than the projected 2030 date.”
Scholars and educational administrators have lauded the government’s plans.
For Dr Muhammad Lawal of the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, the remodeling of was a welcome development,
He said it would discourage the social misfortunes associated with the menace of street begging and roaming which constitute problems.
“It has been successfully introduced and still in practice in some countries. I see the wisdom in the remodelling.
“The good thing is that, all the primary stakeholders ( Malams) that are running the conventional Almajiri system have been brought together for the smooth take-off of the pilot initiative which will also be studied to see how it works,” he said.
Lawal said the adaptation of the Indonesian Pondok system in Sokoto and possibly other northern states, would further check the prevalence of rural-urban migration of under-age children in the name of Almajiri.
Lawal said stakeholders should pay more attention to the rural areas where most of the children come from.
He underscored the importance of sensitising parents to get their cooperation and the need for sustainable funding.
“We have to be serious and avoid leap service.
“My major concern and fears are that with the way our politics is going, no guarantee that the policy will be continued and sustained by incoming government. A responsive political will must drive the implementation to enhance the system by succeeding governments”, he said.
An Almajiri leader, Malam Lawal Garba who oversees Makarantan Malam Mijinyawa Salame with a population of 300 children, said the adoption of the Pondok system by the state government was a good thing to happen.
However, Garba said the Almajiri School under his supervision only entertains children from within his area under their parents’ care.
“Some Almajiri schools are strictly for children from rural areas and different locations “, he explained.
He said pupils in his school attend conventional schools as well.
“They also go to conventional schools. I run two shifts for them. Those who go to school in the morning attend evening session while those especially not of school age, attend morning session.”
The Public Administration graduate who once worked with the Public Complaint Commission, said he did not support street begging.
“It is indeed sad to see kids roaming the street begging in the name of seeking knowledge through Almajiri system.
“If the government is serious, the proposed Pondok system will make some difference in the lives of many children,” he said.