MARUF OLAKUNLE reports that a conference on the Almajiri syndrome called for a paradigm shift in operation in order to bring it up to speed with modernity
IT is no longer news that street urchins in the Northern parts of the country popularly known as Almajiri had become a regional menace and an embarrassment to political leaders in that part of the country. Getting them educated hrough a special funding project known as the Almajiri education has largely failed if what is on ground is anything to go by.
In fact in the face of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic most states in the north took the step to repatriate scores of the Almajirai to their states of origin an outcome of an agreement among northern states governors through the Northern Governors Forum lead by Plateau State governor, Samuel Lalong. The governors also declared the use of Almajirai for street begging as illegal.
However, these policies and agreements were received with mixed feelings. While some states went ahead and immediately started its implementation, some others were not enthusiastic about its implementation believing that it will cause more problems than solutions for the region.
While states like Kaduna, Kano, Niger and Nasarawa among others began the deportation of the Almajirai back to their respective state of origin in ernest, Sokoto State is not so enthusiastic about pursuing that line of approach.
While speaking on the issue, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said he was ready to make the state conducive for all while promising not to deport any Almajiri from the state.
He however promised to look into the issue of using the Almajirai for street begging, a situation which he said was anti-Islamic and should be condemnable by all and sundry. He also promised not to entertain any form of child abuse in the state.
It was on the basis of this scenario that a roundtable was recently organized at the state Centre for Arabic and Islamic Education Board, Aguwanrogo road in the Sokoto State capital in order to have another look at the Almajiri issue and proffer a way forward. It was a gathering of who is who, among the Islamic leaders in Denge-Shuni/Bodinda/Tureta Federal constituency of Sokoto State.
The gathering included the notable Central mosque Imams in the area, Arabic studies teachers and dons from Usmanu Danfodio University. Others include Proprietors of private schools, representatives of women group such as FOWAN, Amirahs, Miyetti Allah women leader in the state among other women leaders.
Different speakers spoke extensively at the summit seeking a long-term solution to the problem which had existed for as long as most northerners could remember.
House of Representatives member, representing Denge-Shuni/Bodinda/Tureta Federal constituency, Honourable Shehu Kakale, a medical doctor and former commissioner for health in the state, who was one of the speakers called for a total reform of the Almajiri form of education in the country.
Presenting his own position at the gathering, Honourable Kakale said it is high time the government at the centre gave due recognition to the Almajiri model of education in the country. He also called for the recognition of the certificate given them just like the secondary school certificate. The lawmaker called on all concerned governments at all levels to commence preparation of giving the recognition of the certificate which includes formal skill acquisition across the country.
“We are not talking of incorporate it with Western form of education but (for it) to be reformed in order to solve even the problems of Western education. If the Almajiri system of education is reformed, it will definitely solve many economic problems currently being face in the country presently.
“We are not talking of the system of street begging in the name of Almajiri but we are talking of the corporate system where they will not only learn Arabic education and language but also Computer as well as other vocational education,” he added.
The federal lawmaker further revealed that the leadership of the House of Representatives had also endorsed the programme.
Also speaking, Professor….. Sulaiman, the Director of Consultancy, Usman Danfodiyo University (UDUS), commended Dr Kakale for the bold step taken on the issue of Almajiri education.
He said Kakale remains the first federal lawmaker from the state to take the issue of Almajiri to the floor of the National Assembly. He urged some Islamic teachers who take delight in using their students for begging to desist from such or face the wrath of the entire region.
Other speakers at the event also condemned the continued process of using the Almajirai for street begging. They, however, called on the federal government to adopt the Indonesian or Moroccan model of Almajiri education.
The Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties to Governor Tambuwal, Alhaji Yusuf Dyngiyadi, also corroborated the position of other speakers at the event, while calling for a full implementation of the proposal on reforming Almajiri education.
He reassured the gathering that his boss (Tambuwal) was ready to give total support to the programme which he described as a child of necessity at this period of time in the country.
executive Islamic, Islamic and Religious Education Board, also urged parents to stop the ideas of turning their wards to street beggars in the name of Almajiri.
He counseled that Islamic as a religion frown against act of begging as a means of livelihood. He further called on the elites in the society to support the clamour to reform Almajiri education so as to compete with others in the society.
The state chairman of Zakkat Board Commission, Alhaji Muhammad Lawal Maidoki, also urged parents to cater for their wards to make them useful not only for themselves alone but for the entire society, now and in the future.
He however appealed to general public not to confuse the issue of Almajiri with street beggars, both of which he said are clearly different.
In conclusion, the group asked members of the public, especially the elite, to contribute in one way or the other to make the dream of reforming the Almajiri system of education a reality.
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