The Almajiri system, where children are sent to other parts of the country to learn the Qur’an, mostly within the north, has been a burning issue for a while now. Daily Trust sought opinions of some Nigerians on the subject.
Dr. Bashir Aliyu Umar, Chief Imam, Al-Furqan Friday mosque, Kano
The Almajiri system has deviated from Islamic teaching, because there is a strong obligation on a parent to take responsibility of his male children till, they attain adulthood, and his female children till they get married. Most of these parents send their wards, not for knowledge seeking, but simply out of poverty. Take for example in Sudan, there is an effective Qur’anic education system with a defined structural provision that allows for proper upkeep of these children under a defined government system.
The Almajiri issue has been in existence for quite a long time and addressing it will equally take time. Previously, there were attempts by Kano State government with the Tsangaya system and success was recorded. It is clear that the problem is not with the education but with the manner these innocent children are allowed to roam without proper care. There is need to empower the teachers to be able to take care of the students and also to have a model that will allow for proper conduct of such schools under the supervision of the government.
Bilkisu Ado Zango, 30, Zonal Coordinator, National Association of People with Physical Disability, Kano
There is a total deviation from what everyone knew Almajiri system was. It is indeed sad to see that the actual reason is being abused. These days you see tattered and innocent little children. I was told that as young as they are, their parents still expect them to bring something home when they return. This is how pathetic the situation has degenerated to, and it is no longer a secret that some of these children’s parents are running away from their responsibilities. The saddest thing is that we have been hearing stories of how they were initiated into various heinous acts. Some of them are victims of molestation and sexual abuse.
Sheikh Tijjani Bala Kalarawi, Islamic Cleric, Kano
The nuisance constituted by the children roaming the streets is the fault of the parents, the Islamic scholars, the society as well as the government, because each has a vital role to play. The rights of children have been clearly spelt out in Islam, right from how you can choose a good gene for your progeny, to their feeding, clothing and moral upbringing, which includes education.
Islamic education in this part of the country, unlike in other Islamic countries, is not institutionalized, and we have the wrong notion that it is for free and only Allah will reward you. This wrong notion of giving it for free is the reason why both the teachers and parents don’t value it. Take for instance the western schools that we rush to take our children to every morning. We pay a lot of money, and as such, value the system.
Malam Aminu Imam, 44, Islamic scholar
The Almajiri system has gone contrary to what it used to be. I was once an Almajiri and had a different experience. We had only two days in a week to visit the barber shop, wash our clothes and do some other activities, while all other days were occupied by studies. But today, innocent children litter the streets all day and one can’t help but wonder what they are doing? Are they Almajiris or something else? Parents are using it to shy away from their responsibilities. I was in the system but can’t send my son to what is obtainable today.
Idris Bashir, 45, Teacher
What is obtainable today in the Almajiri system is pathetic and one need not be told that the pattern isn’t what it used to be. Now you see a child of three to four years old begging for food from house to house. The question I always ask is, what kind of father will allow an innocent child to go as far as another town in the name of knowledge seeking?
I am convinced that what is being practiced today is in contrast with what it ought to have been. We are not oblivious to what it used to be. We had friends among the Almajiris and we mingled with them freely because they were not too young or too tattered to mingle with.
As a parent, I know what it takes to train a child and I know what it is like to let a child out of my sight. What do you think will happen to a child who is whisked away from his mother at a very tender age in the name of Almajiranci? Parents need to re-think their actions. I won’t allow such a thing to happen to my child. The bitter truth is that parents are sending their innocent children to escape taking responsibility. Many concerned Nigerians have openly shown their displeasure, but sadly wrong interpretations have been attached to their harmless suggestion. However, this is a very serious issue that needs serious intervention from all levels of governments.