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THE MENACE OF ALMAJIRI SYSTEM OF EDUCATION

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

The Hausa word Almajiri (Plural Almajirai) is derived from the Arabic Almajiri (Plural Almuhajirun) which means one of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) who accompanied him from Mecca to Medinah during his Hijira (Migration). The Arabic word Al-muhajir, therefore had a special religious connotation in the early period in Islam. It meant a scholar who migrated from his home to another community in search of knowledge. Up to date a pupil undergoing Islamic Religious training is called Almajiri in the Hausa language, hence the Almajiri system of education. The schools are found mostly in the Northern parts of Nigeria with just a few in the southern part of the country. (Fafunwa, 1975),

This schools system is organized by individuals who have either been requested by community to teach pupils or have voluntarily decided to establish the schools on their own. This is in line with the Islamic injuction that “The best man among you is one who teams the Qur’an and cares to teach” (Fafunwa, 1975), It follow then that individuals whom organize Qur’anic schools do so as service to Islam such individuals teach for charity, and live on occasional donations in cash or kind from pupils Parents and other sympathizer.

As one establishes such a school, the tendency is to solicit for and admit young children from far and near for the purpose of teaching them Islamic Education, As there are no formalized conditions for joining this type of school, the children are simply handed over to the Mallam by parents. There is no limit to the number of pupils a Mallam could accept in his school. Through pre-survey discussions with some Mallams, it was revealed that one way of earning prestige is for a Mallam to have many Almajirai. The number of pupils also determines the quantity of Zakkah given to him. A Mallam’s prestige may be one of the reasons why some parents insist on sending their children to a particular Mallam (Muhammad, 2000).

Due to the flexibility of the system, pupils go at their own individual paces in the learning process. There is no regimented system of enrolment and promotion, pupils can be admitted even at the age of four years, when the teacher has gathered enough pupils, he sets out to a Rural or Urban settlement to took for a place to settle among a Muslim community. The host community will provide shelter for him and his pupils. But the sedentary Mallams who establish such school leave in their home without moving with their pupils such schools will admit day students and boarders the sedentary Mallams provide accommodation for the boarding students. Such Mallams may also provide accommodation for the itinerant Mallam and their pupils (Adamu, 2000).

Ado (1997) notes that unlike what was obtained in the past when accommodation £ was provided for the itinerant Mallam and their pupils under the present dispensation, no proper arrangement are made for accommodation for them. The pupils are usually accommodated in over-crowed place called Zaure (Plural Zaurukka) these served dual purposes of being class room and dormitories, pupils sleep on the floor or anywhere within the vicinity of the schools. The Mallam is accommodated inside the compound.

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