Live Stream
Radio Ndarason Internationale


Governor orders vocational, numeracy and literacy skills for all Almajirai schoolchildren

18 November 2022
Reading time: 6 minutes

In an effort to reduce the number of the out-of-school children and Almajirai roaming the streets in all parts of Borno State, governor Babagana Zulum has ordered the integration of vocational, numeracy and literacy skills in 2,775 Sangaya centres – known as Almajiri schools – and 451 Islamiyya schools in the state.

Zulum gave the instruction on Tuesday, October 18, after receiving an update on the validation and registration of Sangaya Schools presented by the Governing Council of Arabic and Sangaya Education Board.

Last month the government set up a reform committee to come up with an action plan to address the issue of Almajirai children, who are best known for begging for alms on the state’s streets.

Reacting to the committee’s update and recommendations, the governor said that the Borno State government intended to streamline the informal and formal education systems to qualify Sangaya schoolchildren to get admitted into colleges and universities.

Khalifa Ahmad Abulfatahi, the chairman of the Arabic and Sangaya Education Board, presented the findings of the validation and registration of Sangaya schools, which was conducted across 27 local government areas of the state, with the exception of the Kala-Balge, Guzamala and Abadam local government areas.

RNI spoke to Sangaya teachers in Maiduguri to find out how they felt about the commmittee’s recommendations.

Mohammed Bashir Mustapha, a teacher at the Goni Musa Sangaya School in Damboa Road, said: “We are very glad and hopeful that all the recommendations, such as provision of accommodation, classes, food and clothing to the children that are studying in Almajiri/Sangaya schools across the state, will be implemented.

“The Borno State government has tried to support the Sangaya system of education through its Better Education Service Delivery for All [BESDA] initiatives and thousands of Sangaya schools have benefited. They have been providing food and non-food items, as well as a ₦10,000 stipend on monthly basis. So, with initiatives such as these, we are very optimistic that the government will implement the recommendations to improve and reform the Almajiri/Sangaya system of education.

“In fact, as a result of the BESDA initiatives, my own pupils are really trying their best not only in Islamic education but also in Western education as they have started learning how to write and speak in English. To be honest, I think our school could easily compete with any Sangaya schools in terms of Western education.”

Mustapha said they were pleading with the government to look into the plight of children who are studying at Almajiri/Sangaya schools “because they are Nigerians and they have constitutional rights to access better education whether Islamic or Western, just like any other schoolchildren”.

“The government needs to treat all children equally and in a just way, irrespective of their religious, social, tribal or cultural backgrounds. It’s imperative for the government to speed up implementation of the recommendations for a better education for all citizenry.”

Mohammud Goni Umar, a teacher at the from Goni Umar Sangaya School in the Shehuri South area of Maiduguri, told RNI that it’s well known that most of the Almajiri/Sangaya schools are neglected.

“The Almajirai children spend their days roaming the streets, begging for alms and food because they have nothing to eat. Some of them do not have shelters or clothing. They spend more time on the streets than in the schools.

“However, with the presentation of this report and its reform recommendations, we hope that the government will implement all the recommendations to ensure provision of food, shelters or hostels and clothing, which would greatly improve the livelihoods of these children and result in an improved learning environment.

“The governor pledged the introduction of vocational skills acquisition centres in Sangaya schools, so that Almajirai schoolchildren will learn entrepreneurial skills and business know-how to become self-reliant. So, we are optimistic that vocational skills training will be implemented in these schools as soon as possible.”

Umar said all the Sangaya schools in Borno State were now registered and recognised except those that were located in remote places. Most of the Sangaya teachers accepted the reforms.

“Out of 100%, 90% of the Sangaya school teachers welcomed the reforms to the Almajiri system of education.”

Tijjani Goni Modu, a teacher at the Old Maiduguri Sangaya School told RNI that the school was one of the most popular and biggest Sangaya schools in the Jere Local Government Area of Borno State.

“There are more than 600 Almajirai schoolchildren studying at the school. But we have lots of challenges, such as inadequate ablution facilities, lack of shelters for the children, a poor learning environment and also a lack of enough foodstuff to sustain the schoolchildren. Even the mosque where we pray does not have a roof and needs to be totally renovated.

“We are fully in favour of the government implementing the recommendations submitted by the reform committee and the Arabic and Sangaya Education Board. We are very optimistic and hope that the government will implement the reforms soon, by the grace of God.”

  • According to Wikipedia, Almajiranci refers to a system of Islamic education practised in northern Nigeria; the males are called Almajiri and the females, Almajira, the plural is Almajirai. The system encourages parents to leave parental responsibilities to the Islamic school. The Hausa word Almajiri is derived from the Arabic word, المُهَاجِرْ“al-Muhājir”, which refers to a person who migrates from his home in search of Islamic knowledge.

Colloquially, the term has expanded to refer to any young person who begs on the streets and does not attend secular school. Almajirai are children, usually from poor rural backgrounds, who leave their hometowns to study Islamic learning with malammai, teachers of the Qur’an. Most malams were educated in the Alamajiri system themselves, and as they do not receive a salary they depend financially on the alms of the community and the work of the Almajirai. The Almajirai usually begin their studies between the ages of three and 12.

• According to Learntal, the 10 best vocational skills training to acquire in Nigeria are: ITC skills and services; beauty and hairstyling; graphic design; fashion design; digital marketing skills; makeup artistry; event planning; photography; aluminium and steel fabrication; and shoe crafting.


About the author

Elvis Mugisha