© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
We have three categories of Almajiri in Kano, only one of them belongs to us – Ganduje
ABDULLAHI Ganduje, Governor of Kano State on Tuesday says the state government has discovered three categories of students in the state who are learning under the Islamic education popularly known as Almajiri.
“We found out we have three categories of Almajiris in Kano – those that belong to Kano state, those from other states and those that don’t know where they come from,” Ganduje said during a virtual meeting on Alternate Pathways and Future of Almajiri Children in Kano, organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Ganduje stated that the discovery followed a census conducted in the state by his administration as part of plans to reform the Almajiri students.
“In the Northern Governors Forum, while discussing the issue of insecurity in northern Nigeria, the issue of Almajiri came up and we took our decision to reform the Almajiri. Here in Kano, we decided to carry out a census to build up our data,” he said.
Almajiranci is a system of Islamic education practiced in Northern Nigeria, in which a person migrates his home in search of Islamic knowledge. The system encourages parents to leave parental responsibilities to the attached Islamic school.
But in his submission, the governor emphasised that these children, known as Almajirai have a right to education and parental care, adding that plans are underway to create a program to cater for them.
“These children have a right to be educated, protected and a right to be with their parents. We are trying to create a sustainable program, so even when we leave office the program will still be sustained,” Ganduje said.
While noting that Almajari children are easy recruits for Boko Haram and bandits, the governor said tackling the problem of Almajiri would also mean tackling the issue of insecurity.
“Yes, the Almajiri are easier recruits for BokoHaram and bandits. By tackling the problems of Almajiri, we are also tackling the issue of insecurity,” he said.
On education, Ganduje revealed that his administration’s most recent policy is focused on girl-education, saying, “Our new policy on education is taking care of the girl-child.”
He added that education in Kano is now free, in order for people not to be marginalized.
“Education in Kano is now compulsory from primary to secondary. Compulsory education is now included in the law,” the governor said.
While saying that the state government has created new schools and also recruiting teachers, Ganduje added that the administration has given room for those who wish to continue the Almajiri system, but they must make room for; curriculum, accommodation, feeding and health facilities fior the students.
“It’s a vicious cycle! The parents are illiterates, the children follow suit and are also illiterate. We are breaking that cycle by making education compulsory for all children.”
Speaking also during the meeting, Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Representative stressed the need to enhance the social protection element, increase livelihood, identify and reintegrate the Almajiri children with their families.
“We need to improve education. Education is a simple concept; girl + boy + teacher = education. It is about valuing those teachers. Why don’t we start a program of valuing teachers and showing the communities how valuable they are,” Hawkins said.
He stated that girls’ education is so critical saying,” We must not leave the girls behind.”
“With the COVID-19 lockdown, this is a period to skill up the teachers, bring the girls & boys back to school, give them access to education. It’s about the ability to value what they will learn.”
Hawkins lamented that Kano State is one of those states that have not domesticated the Child Right Act.
“Kano has not yet domesticated the Child Rights Act. The act defines the rights of a child, parents, communities and government in fulfilling the rights of that child,” he said.
According to a fact sheet presented by Mutaka Muktarthat, UNICEF’s Education Specialist, Kano ranks highest in the population of out of school children in the country, with a total number of 1,496,736, children not enrolled in schools.