Almajiri imbroglio in Northern Nigeria: what are the solutions? 
By Abbati Bako
The Almajiri imbroglio in Kano State and the entire Northern Nigeria: what are the solutions to this chronic defect? (For the attention of northern governors) [Part 2]
1.1 The Term of Reference (ToR) of the Committee
1. “To advice Government on the desirability of continuing the practice of Almajiri System of Islamic Education.”
My advice: Since the creation of Kano State in 1967, almost all the previous regimes had attempted to seek for ideas and contributions from patriotic citizens on how this situation would be minimized or even be eradicated. But the question one may ask; are there any successes achieved in the past? The answer is glaringly clear “No”. Why? I understand the fact that, there were lack of genuine commitment and interest to tackle the situation. In my candid view, if government is genuinely serious, the problem could be brought under control. One must hope that this time around, government will genuinely and seriously bring this embarrassing and lamenting situation under control.
2. “To gather, collate available statistics or through sample surveys or other appropriate methods to determine as far as practicable the number of Almajirai in the State.”
My advice: The recent past regime’s statistics indicate that, there are about 24,000 (twenty four thousand) Almajiri schools in the state. How can this be verified? The answer should be that, only through scientific means. I understand that, there is need to use both qualitative and quantitative path ways to ascertain the authenticity and genuine claim of the said data. How? A private consultancy firm should be employed and tasked with the job; pure and simple. The Government bureaucratic tendency must be bypassed to avoid delay and tortoise implementation of the results.
3. “To determine as far as practicable, what proportion of the Almajirai are of indigenous Kano population and which part of the state they hail from and what proportion hail neighboring states or from neighboring countries.”
My advice: The only way to determine the number of Almajirai in the state is through scientific data collection. This could be achieved by using qualitative path way method, that’s what will give almost accurate and possibly precise data, the number of indigenous Kano state Almajirai and the non indigenes. Unless this is done, then, the Government will know what actions and measures to be taken. In this respect, Government must use all possible means to bring the Almajiri situation under control. The government should take note that, laws must be enacted by the state House of Assembly that will restrict/ ban begging on our streets; to only some areas such as Mosque and possibly yearly festivities like Sallah day. On the other hand, government can make some designated location for beggars and almajiri to gather for sadaqat collections. And all non indigenes should be deported back to their respective states or nations; and the indigenes should be taken back to their parent or guardians.
4. “To study, collect and compile available materials, including research and other materials, government policy documents in particular and in Nigeria or elsewhere on the Almajiri system.”
My advice: This can be possible by using government machineries to source all necessary available data/materials/documentations/researches from government side. Likewise, some states policies on almajiri (like Lagos State) be studied and adopt some of the good side of it. Also countries such as Sudan, Indonesia, Tunisia, Malaysia and Morocco are to be visited to study their policies on Holy Qur’an schools. All these can be possible but it must be with the collaboration of private consultancy firms; to ensure efficiency, accuracy and precise based result.
5. “To examine ways to sensitize and involve all stakeholders of Almajiri system with view to mobilize support and participation on the workable solution(s) to the problems identify.”
My advice: as mentioned earlier in this paper, all hands must be on deck to ensure the success of the noble intention of government of the day. The following stakeholders must be sensitized and mobilized; traditional institutions, the Ulamas, Politicians, civil servants, the media organizations, the judiciary, NGOs/CBOs, women organizations, security operatives and business communities must all give their maximum cooperation to ensure the almajiri problem be brought under control in Kano Sate.
6. “To examine the desirability and practicability of fully integrating the Qur’anic/Islamic education into formal system of education and recommend to Government how best such can be achieved.”
My advice: government hereby advice that substantial amount of money must be allocated in next year’s budget to ensure the success of the program. This is an issue that will involve millions of Naira. Because to integrate Qur’anic/Islamic and Western knowledge will be money and time consuming; and must be carefully strategized and planned. For example, government should have a good data base on the number of almajiris in each local government area of the State.
The census of all the almajiris and the mallams must be computerized and recorded; their names, parents/relatives address, age, State of origin, local government area and so on. All details given must be authenticated and verified and signed by the ward head and district head. Also passport photographs must be obtained and attached with each completed form. And again, all details must be computerized to ensure the safety of all the records.
The government should set up a permanent commission and be fully staffed and be backed by law; that’s what will ensure the consistency of the policy. The commission is to be named “Kano State Qur’anic, Islamic and Western Science Commission”. The Commission should be under the office of His Excellency the Governor of the State. And the activities of the Commission are to be monitored closely by His Excellency.
All Mallams of Qur’anic schools in the State be employed based on contract or casual staff and must have not less than five to ten years experience in Qur’anic teaching. The teaching must be made very attractive and well paid. The government should build schools based on the data result. The current government policy on feeding in primary schools in the State comes at the right time: it should be combined with the almajiri programme.
The almajiris should be given opportunity to always air their views on the programme on the radio, TV, and GSM. They should also be taught computer literacy. The government must give the almajiris the essence behind why this programme is being created, designed and implemented for their own good, betterment and hopes for the future. Corporate organizations should be invited to fully participate and assist the government in achieving the success of the program.
The government must let them know in black and white that this programme must succeed. Also government should encourage parents to assist from their own end to ensure the success of the programme. On the other hand, government should give emphasis on rural integration, policy on jobs creation; especially agrarian economy. And again, beautiful and attractive and safe heaven economic policy should be formulated to attract investors from within and outside Nigeria.
This will give more opportunity to our teeming youths to gain employment. Motivational speeches especially from the Ulamas and traditional rulers must constantly be ensured. The government hospitals and clinics could be used to advice rural populace on the importance of child spacing. The government should give more dividend of democracy to rural populace; electricity, water, hospitals, roads and schools. This will reduce the influx from rural to urban centers.
7. “To determine and regulate its proceedings and may commission studies or survey and may appoint consultants of other research persons to assist in its works.”
(To be continued insha Allah)
Abbati Bako (Political and Communication Consultant)