How Dr. Wamakko Solve Problems Of Almajiri Integrated Model Schools (AIMS) In Sokoto

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By Muhammad Goronyo, Sokoto

Almajiri system of education is as old as it is. It also remains one of the traditional ways of searching for Qur’anic knowledge by the young male children who leave home or sent out by their parents to the network of Islamic Boarding Schools in cities and villages of northern Nigeria.

The ancient practice has a long history and cultural base in Islam. It is unfortunate that, the golden side of it has been submerged by social vices and future light blockage (begging).

Indeed, in the past, products of the Almajiri system commanded high respect in the society for the vastness of their Islamic knowledge, personality recognition and responsibility in the society. All these have either been eroded or reduced as a consequence of civilization and human development.

The social constructs that made man self-reliant and responsible for not begging.

Indeed, the effects of street begging on the personalities of Muslims in northern Nigeria is sympathetic as it creates the largest proportion of beggars and promotes idleness in the society.

The genesis of all these and other vices emanates from children roaming streets to beg for food in the name of searching for knowledge. The acts that have no future life earning plans.

The young pupils who roams the streets are sometimes coopted into mini jobs at residences, restaurants and other public places. They are also engaged in hawking, load carrying in the markets and barrow pushing. Above all, these children are subjected to what literally amounts to force labour in which the proportion of the benefits go to Mallams (leaders).

In Nigeria today, ALMAJIRI has been considered as any unprivileged child who begs for assistance of food and other things in order to survive. For them to survive, these children beg from dust to down daily on streets before they retire back to their respective Malams so as to be taught how to recite and memorize the Holy Qur’an and Hadith.

Similarly, it was reported that, there are about seven million children and teenagers identified as street beggars in the northern part of Nigeria which could be traced to Almajiri system of education. In the report of World Health Organization (WHO) over three percent of these children suffer child abuse and neglect. A situation that worried many northern political and religious leaders.

Although, series of attempts were previously made by different organizations and individuals, but the result was not felt or recognized.

As such, the Sokoto state government headed by Dr. Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko contained the problems through an intellectual and social perimeters of establishing Almajiri Integrated Model Schools in Sokoto state.

The social preparation for the establishment of AIMS saw eradication or modernization of Almajiri schooling system that has been perceived as very difficult or impossible project.

The simple reason being that of parents’ rejection and Malams blockage. Most parents do not value any form of modernization in the process of acquiring Islamic education, talk less of including modern education in the program of their children.

The conviction change of such parents is not easy as they hold the view of valuelessness and destructiveness of education that is not traditionally Islamic.

For the Malams, Almajiri pupils are the major source of their income. Infact, the means of their survival. Parents of these pupils bring foodstuffs during harvest, some send different things at their will to the Malams. As they (children) engage in many forms of child abuse and other activities whatever they might have gotten Malams have share either daily or weekly. Consequently, the stoppage of their system was not going to be taken lightly by these Malams.

To succeed, efforts were made to meet with the officials of the Almajiri Teachers Association of Sokoto State. During the meeting three points were presented clearly to them:-That the government of Wamakko was not aiming at closing or destroying their historic schools, that the efforts was geared to assist them in managing the Almajiri pupils and Almajiri system of education, and that the traditional system of reading Qur’an will be included in the programme in the Almajiri Integrated Model Schools.

The resolution of the meeting was the total conviction and acceptance of the Almajiri Integrated Model Schools by the association. The association entertained the fear of not knowing what would be happening in the schools. The Ministry requested the association to provide two members of their association for employment as teachers in the schools. They sent names of two teachers who were since employed. The association agreed to instruct their members to send the students in their schools who cannot have houses to get food.

Intellectual preparation for the establishment of of AIMS is another institution that has been termed as one of the northern child problems. The problem is not of the school types but on the process the children are subjected to. As a recognized basic problem in the society that needs special attention of governments, organizations, associations and individuals, efforts need to be made to dig out the genesis and solutions to the problems. In that process, the government of Sokoto state sponsored a research of problem discovery. In that research, many factors were discovered to be the roots of the problems. The major among them are the very high motivation towards the knowledge acquisition of Al-Qur’an, poverty especially of food security and joblessness in the villages during the dry season.

The then administration of Dr. Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko has already addressed the last two problems (joblessness and poverty) through different agencies and ministries (ministry for Social Welfare and Youths Development, Poverty Reduction Department, ministry for Special Duties and Department of Disable among others),etc.

The first factor was what was being addressed through Ministry for Religious Affairs through the proposed establishment of 23 AIMS in all the 23 local government areas of the state. The of the motivation was to establish schools where Qur’an would be taught in three different forms. The first was the local form of learning Qur’an as obtained in the local schools using slates and other things. The second was the teaching of Qur’an in the modern musabaqa way. The third was the teaching of Qur’an with all the sciences of Tajweed.

Apart from the teaching of Al-Qur’an in the above forms, other Islamic disciplines were being taught to the students. The programme did nod not stop there as there were other modern courses of English, Arithmetic, General Sciences and Vocational skills that were also being taught.

As time progressed, the successor to Wamakko,Aminu Waziri Tambuwal intend to establish Technical schools where these less privileged children could learn one aspect of technology or handicrafts.

The prevailance of corona virus eleven months ago apprehend the effort due to lockdown period that affects both economies and all aspects of development worldwide.

That is merely saying the deadly corona has affected the activity and is still threatening role, value and development of education.

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