By Abdallah el-Kurebe
Balarabe Shehu Kakale, member representing Bodinga/Dange Shuni/ Tureta Federal Constituency of Sokoto state, has proposed a new policy to advocate for a stand-alone recognition of the Almajiri system of education in Nigeria.
Speaking at a stakeholders meeting on the new Almajiri education reforms held in Sokoto on Monday, the lawmaker opined that the new policy is designed to give the same status accorded to the western/secular form of education.
According to Kakale, government’s encouragement of the new system, would automatically put ban on street-begging, and that Almajiranci as a symptom of socioeconomic failures, had culminated into exposing the children into juvenile delinquencies and other social vices.
Classifying them in forms, he explained that “Almajirai are of different categories but often mistaken and lumped up as street beggers.
“Rather, they are in the following classes:- Classical Almajirai who are schooling and literate without begging; socioeconomic Almajirai are those begging without schooling; forced beggars are Almajirai as a result of child trafficking/child labour and domesticated Almajirai are those of irresponsible parents,” Kakale explained.
According to him, “the conventional “Boko” system of education as currently practiced, is broken and also needs reform, because it has been plagued by years of indolence, excessive theorization and unproductivity, due to emphasis on the certificate qualification acquired by learners, rather than what the learners can offer in terms of creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, skills development etc.
“This is the right time to accord the Almajiri system the opportunities for recognition, reforming and mainstreaming, as against integration into the current unproductive, hyper theorization, job seekers creating conventional ‘Boko’ education,” the lawmaker stressed.
Kakale displayed what he described as his Skillsficate (Zayyana and Hatimi) and a digital slate (Allo), which he suggests should be incorporated in the new Almajiri system of education, in order to produce Almajiri school leavers with Vocational, Technical, Entrepreneurial, Agricultural and Computer education (V.T.E.A.C).
He further posited that lteracy, numeracy, job creation, innovation, self employment were key attributes of the Almajiri graduate.
He faulted the wrong use by public of the term “Out of School Children” in describing the Almajiri, saying that “they are not out of school, but in a different school, an alternative school. “Alternative School Children” is of course, a better term because they are in a school.”
At the event, discussions were also had on the women and girl child education system of ‘Yan Taru’, which was developed by Nana Asmau Bint Shehu Usman Fodiyo (1793-1864), a princess, author, poet and council advisor to Sultan Muhammadu Bello.
She ran an orphanage, a sisterhood, nursery and an equivalent of primary, secondary and university study sessions for women and girls from all over the caliphate.
Nana worked extensively and very closely with Shehu Usman Danfodiyo and part of its educational and intellectual revolution and spoke four languages (Arabic, Hausa, Fulfulde and Taureg) and wrote hundreds of books/poems.
The meeting was joined via WhatsApp video conference by another strong advocate of Almajiri reforms, former minister of State Education and member representing Dukku/Nafada federal constituency of Gombe state, Aisha J. Dukku.
She also called for recognition, reform and mainstreaming of the Almajiri system as well as full implementation of Section 15 of the UBEC Act 2004, which captures Almajiri, Nomads, Girl child and other special/vulnerable groups.
Dukku spoke in Hausa, Fulfulde, Arabic and English to the delight of the diverse multilingual participants at the Sokoto meeting.
Other participants were the Executive Chairman, Sokoto State Zakkat and Waqf Endowment Commission, SOZECOM, Malam Lawal Maidoki; Executive Secretary, Sokoto State Arabic and Islamic Education Board, Dr. Umar Altine Dandinmahe; Director General, Female Education Board, Hajiya Luba Abubakar Kasim; Dr. Balbasatu Ibrahim and Zainab Ahmad Binji, Amira of Federation of Muslim Women Assocation of Nigeria (FOMWAN); Prof. Suleiman Khalid from Department of Sociology, Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto; Proprietor of Brilliant Footsteps Academy Sokoto, Dr. Shadi Sabeh, among many others.