August 14, 2018

Only 35, 652 pupils studying in modern Almajiri schools in Northwest – Media Survey

Almajiri school

A total of 35,652 pupils are currently studying in 399 modern Almajiri schools in Kaduna, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kano States, study reveals.

Almajiri schools in the North

Newsemn gathered that among the schools were those built by the Federal Government in 2014, while the rest were constructed by states and individuals.

Funding for the running of the schools is now wholly the responsibilities of the various state governments who recruit personnel, feed students, provide teaching aids and other logistics to the schools.

In Kebb, 1,129 pupils are currently studying in the six Tsangaya schools located in four local government areas of the state.

The Desk Officer for Tsangaya/Almajiri schools at the state Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Alhaji Shehu Mashayabo, said all the schools are operating fully.

“The schools are Government Residential Area Model School, Tudun Wada, Gwadangaji Day Primary School and Tarasa Model Primary School, all in Birnin Kebbi Local Government Area.

“Others are, Argungu Day Primary School in Argungu Local Government Area, Dakingari Model School in Suru Local Government Area and Koko Primary School in Koko/Besse Local Government Area.’’

According to him, the state government has expended N30 million to revive the schools this year and has recruited over 96 professional teachers and 100 supporting staff for the six schools.

“The Federal Government only built the schools in 2014 but furnishing the schools, provision of books and feeding of the pupils is done by the state government,’’ Maishanu said.

In Kano, investigation reveals that a board has been created to run the Tsangaya schools, with Sheikh Yahuza Gwani Dan-Zarga as Executive Chairman.

Dan-Zarga told journalists that the board runs 12 Tsangaya schools, ten of which were built by the Federal Government and two by the state, with a total of 1,700 pupils.

“There are 1, 300 boys and 400 girls enrolled in such schools from primary one to six, and 10 of the schools have boarding facilities.

“The Federal Government is not funding the system for now. The free feeding, uniform, books and school fees are all being taken care of by the state government and it has been effective,” he added.

The Executive Chairman however advised that the Federal Government should make provision for fund that would be utilized in supporting the schools, as well as construct more of such schools to absorb additional pupils.

Other Muslim clerics in Kano also called for expansion of the Tsangaya system of education in the state to reduce the number of almajiris roaming the street.

Sheikh Gwani Ladan of Hotoro said the system, if strengthened, would reduce some of the challenges in the system and ensure provision of quality education to the pupils.

Another teacher, Malam Bala Adamu of Babba Giji area of Kano expressed satisfaction with the programme, but noted that the number of such schools in the state was inadequate.

In Kaduna, the State Universal Basic Education Board has registered 238 Almajiri schools, with a total enrolment of 14,629 pupils.

A visit to one of the schools located on Kaduna-Zaria expressway at Maraban Gwanda, Sabongari-Zaria, indicated that it was reopened in March, after it was shut down for two years by the state government.

“The school was shut down two years ago due to non supply of food to feed the boarding students.

“ It was reopened in March and has commenced full academic activities but for now, the pupils are on third term break, hoping to resume in September,” a staff told newsmen in confidence.

The school is one of those constructed by the Federal Government in 2014.

However, Malam Mohammed Rabiu, Desk Officer, Almajiri Education Programme, SUBEB, said currently, the state government shoulders complete responsibilities of running the schools, except for teacher training, which is being supported by UBEC.

The official explained that three of the schools were boarding, six semi boarding, 35 Pilot Qur’anic schools, two Day Tsangaya schools and 192 Tsangaya Qur’anic Integrated Education schools.

He explained that under the system, the Almajiris have equal access to basic education, based on the curriculum designed by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).

Rabiu added that those that completed the schools are placed into the Almajiri boarding and semi boarding schools for their secondary education.

According to him, the Federal Government built two out of the three boarding schools and the six semi boarding schools in 2014.

Rabiu also said that the 192 Tsangaya Qur’anic Integrated Education schools in the state were set up by the Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN).

“ESSPIN established the schools, recruited, trained and paid volunteer teachers stipends to teach in the schools from 2012 up to 2016, when the ESSPIN programme ended.

“We are currently going round the schools to ascertain the level of operations so we can make recommendations on the best way forward.

“This is because since ESSPIN came to a close, there was no form of funding from any quarters to support the schools.

“Moreover, most of the volunteer teachers have been recruited as primary school teachers in the last recruitment of teachers for public  primary schools by the Kaduna State Government,” Rabiu said.

Reports from  Zamfara indicate that the state has 13 Modern Almajiri Integrated Schools, 10 constructed by the Federal Government and three by the state.

The Desk Officer in charge of Almajiri Schools at the State Universal Basic Education Board, Malam Lawali Gurbi, said the schools are located in Jangebe, Danmarke Tungar Fulani, Dankurmi, Abarma, Tsunami,,Gusau, Kaura Namoda, Bakura and Maradun.

“Two of the schools at Talata Mafara and Gusau have been converted to boys and girls command secondary schools respectively, and the one at Damba area of Gusau is now a conventional Girls Secondary School,’’ Gurbi said.

He added that those enrolled in all the schools receive education up to basic education level.

A teacher at Sheikh Balarabe Zawiyya Almajiri Integrated Model School Gusau, Malam Kabiru Umar, said the students are taught both Islamic and Western education, and the teachers are employees of the state government.

Journalists also report that another comprehensive Almajiri schools managed by an individual teaches purely Islamic knowledge.

Known as Zawiyya of Sheikh Balarabe Almajiri Schools, it is a very popular school in the state, with a well structured arrangement for conducive leaning.

Head of the school, Malam Usman Muhammad, said it was established 40 years ago by Sheikh Balarabe from a single classroom, and now has 66 classrooms and over 16,000 students.

He said all the teachers volunteered their services, but get allowance from the N10 weekly school fees paid by each pupil.

“Some of our students have moved on to obtain NCE and Degrees, after going through Colleges of Education and universities, to study Arabic or Islamic Studies,’’ he said.

In Katsina, Malam Muhammad Bello, the SUBEB Desk Officer for Arabic and Islamic Studies, said 10 Integrated Qur’anic schools  and two Tsangaya schools are operating in the state, with a population of 1, 780 pupils.

Bello said that the schools, wholly managed by the state government, are located in Katsina, Funtua, Kankara, Kafur, Danmusa, Kurfi and Batsari Local Government Areas.

According to him, among the schools are sciences based, vocational and conventional schools, all managed by the state government.

Bello disclosed that the board had set up committee to review lapses in the operation of the schools so as to take measures to enhance their activities.

In Sokoto State, Dr Umar Boyi, the SUBEB desk officer in charge of almajiri schools said there are 17 of such almajiri schools across the state run by the state government.

Governor Aminu Tambuwal had also indicated in 2017 that the government planned to establish 488 Integrated Islamiyya Schools across the state, but there are no indications that had been done.

The state government has however upgraded 15 community female Islamiyya Schools to offer lessons in conventional education.

At the Gagi Integrated Almajiri School, the first modern school established by the Federal Government in 2012, the Principal, Malam Hussaini Abdullahi, said it has 350 students, 32 teaching staff including seven Islamic studies tutors.

He added that SUBEB provides the students with uniform, sandals, reading and writing materials as well as transport money back to their respective areas during vacation.

“The school combine traditional Islamic tutelage and conventional education and has facilities such as computer room, science laboratory, recitation hall, library, language laboratory, dormitories, clinic, vocational workshop, Tutors quarters and dining hall,’’ Abdullahi said.

The principal said that the Sultan on Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, has been a regular visitor to the school and that has encouraged the pupils and parents to embrace the modern almajiri school system.

Newsmen however report that some of the school classrooms were empty while others have their roofs blown off, with some of the furniture in deplorable state.

Pressmen also report that UNICEF has been assisting a privately run almajiri school at Takatulu village in Bodinga Local Government, which currently has 64 students aged between six and 12 years receiving normal Qur’anic and modern lessons.

The Head Teacher, Malam Sa’idu Nata’ala, said UNICEF and the state government had provided instructional materials to the school, but complained of lack space to expand the school and the need to get more instructional materials and temporary classrooms.

A former Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Dr Jabbi Kilgori, told newsmen that there was a plan to incorporate 4,000 local Qur’anic schools in the state into the formal education system before he left office.

Kilgori said a committee of traditional rulers headed by the Sultan was inaugurated for the project, and its mandate included coordinating the integration project.

The former commissioner also acknowledged that UNICEF was involved in the project, which was principally to tackle the low enrolment of pupils across the state.