By Marie-Therese Nanlong
The Deputy Chief Imam of Jos Central Mosque, Sheikh Ghazali Adam has called for the modernization of the almajiri system of education saying the system cannot be abolished as it is “an entire system of learning the holy Koran.”
Sheikh Adam frowned at the distorted practice of turning children who were meant to acquire Islamic knowledge into beggars, thereby leading to demonization of the almajiri system.
Apart from the Islamic cleric, other Islamic scholars like Malam Hamza Uwais of Al-Bushrah Quranic School and Malam Umar Yakubu of Al-madrasa Al-mubarakah reiterated the need for government intervention in repositioning the almajiri system of education and abolishing street begging.
According to Sheikh Adam, “I support the modernization of the almajiri system of education because it is an entire system of learning the holy Koran but they are some lapses that we have noticed, that is, children being abandoned by their parents. Some of the parents do not come and visit the children to know who are their tutors and how conducive is their place of learning.
“Before, the almajiri system was one of the safest institutions but we hope that the government will promote it by using teachers that are on their payroll as done in Sokoto and Kano before. The government should also sponsor the educationists to go and see how the almajiri system is being run in Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia and the rest.
“President Goodluck Jonathan idea about the almajiri system was a perfect one and acceptable by most of JNI and Muslim community but later, it was abandoned, that is why we have this calamity.”
Malam Uwais added, “We have different types of almajiri schools, nobody will be happy to see children running about begging. Street begging is different from almajiri system of education, the almajiri system is an Islamic school where people are gathered and handed over to a scholar to teach them Koran, this is an old system of learning the Koran despite the fact that we have the modern system now.
“What government should do just like Jonathan did, let the classes be modernized. In my opinion, street begging should be abolished but the almajiri system should be supported. I am running a school though it has been closed because of COVID-19, we are following government directives, I don’t run the kind of school that encourages begging, our children are staying with their parents.
“They come here to learn and go back home, we are not accommodating anyone here, almost all of our students are attending secular schools but only come here to learn the Koran, some of them are in higher institutions within and outside Plateau, such should be encouraged while begging is abolished.”
To Malam Yakubu, who blamed the proliferation of almajiri schools on lack of government’s commitment to sanitize the system, stressed that the system cannot be abolished because “it is the beginning of worship in Islam.”
He asked that government should make adequate provision while modernizing the system so that children especially from vulnerable background do not have to go to beg in the name of getting Islamic education.