I would like to make an observation, as well as a piece of admonition to the government at all levels, on the recent decision by some states to repatriate almajirai (street beggars) to their ‘original states.’ This was an irrational decision. To me, it is not the best way to solve the various crises ravaging the country.
Instead of banning the almajiri system, why not reform it?
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Accordingly, the best response to the current dysfunctional system is a comprehensive and actionable reform programme, based on a similar system of Islamic education in Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Malaysia and Indonesia.
However, by so doing, Nigeria must avoid wholesale adoption of the foreign system but pick those lessons that will enhance the system and adapt it to our local environment.
Furthermore, the curriculum of almajiri schools needs to be transformed to reflect present day realities and future aspirations of the society. The curriculum should be a blend of Islamic and Western education with skills acquisition input.
I would like to call on the government at all levels to conduct a proper documentation of almajiri schools. This means that a special unit should be opened in every state to collate data on the actual number of such schools and the children enrolled in them. Also, mallams who are willing to establish and operate almajiri schools must register with the appropriate authorities to ensure proper supervision and periodic inspection.
Pelami Panda, Department of Mass Communication, University of Maiduguri.