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Integrated Almajiri education: A long wait for Jonathan in Bauchi

| October 30, 2013 More

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THE ubiquitous bowl-bearing Almajiri in Bauchi State are anxiously waiting for the coming of either President Goodluck Jonathan or Vice-President Muhammed Namadi Sambo to the state to inaugurate the Almajiri schools built in parts of the state and to formally kick off the integration of Western education with Quranic education, also known as Integrated Quranic Education (IQE).

Findings by the Nigerian Tribune revealed that the Federal Government, through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the Education Trust Fund (ETF), now Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), had provided the needed facilities, including classrooms, hostel accommodation with beddings, water, among others, for the smooth operation of the programme, aimed at taking the Almajiri child, especially in the Northern part of the country, off the streets by integrating the Quranic education with the Western education.

According to the findings, already the Federal Government had built and equipped one of such schools in Buzayi village on the Bauchi-Jos road in Bauchi Local Government Area of the state, while the authorities of the Bauchi State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) had recruited about 12 teachers and other non-teaching staffers for the school as well as recruited about 100 pupils for the school, while waiting for either President Goodluck Jonathan or Vice-President Namadi Sambo to come and officially inaugurate the school for the IQE to take off formally in the state.

The state government, according to investigation conducted by the Nigerian Tribune in the state, in its bid to reduce the menace of Almajiri in the state, had identified Islamic schools, otherwise called Tsangaya schools, in the state and had been monitoring their activities, paying the teachers, called Alaramma monthly stipend.

Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune on the IQE programme in Bauchi State, the coordinator, IQE at the Bauchi SUBEB, Abdulaziz Usman Baban Saibo, said that all was set for the commencement of IQE in the state, adding that the programme would be flagged off in the state on Monday, December 2, 2013.

“We have two types of Almajiri model schools in the state. The Model One, which is smaller in size, where we identify the proprietor/Alaramma, construct classrooms, hostel and VIP toilet for him. There is also the Model Two, which is bigger in size. In the smaller model, there are up to 200 pupils, while the bigger model can accommodate 500 pupils,” he said.

Baban Saibo also informed that there were three structures each of both models in the state, which had already been built by the Federal Government and transferred to the SUBEB, while another one of Model Two was still under construction in Bauchi, which was expected to be completed by the end of this year.

According to him, the Model One Almajiri schools in the state were in Alkaleri, Ningi and Gamawa Local Government Areas of the state, while the Model Two were built, apart from the one at Buzai village, at Sade in Darazo Local Government Area and Azare in Katagum Local Government Area of the state.

“All these projects are Federal Government constructed schools. Bauchi State had constructed 20 before the Federal Government started to intervene in Tsangaya schools, but they are very small and are not the standard classrooms. The Models One and Two were constructed by the Federal Government and handed over to the state government. The enrolment of pupils, recruitment of academic and non-academic staff are the responsibility of the state government,” the IQE coordinator told the Nigerian Tribune.

He added that SUBEB had only recruited 24 teachers and other non-academic staff for three of the schools, with 300 pupils enrolled for the schools in the state. He stated that the schools in Buzayi and Azare had the capacity of 500 pupils each at a time, while the one at Sade had capacity for 200 pupils.

When asked why the take off of the IQE system in the state was delayed till now despite the facilities being in place, Baban Saibo said that they were waiting for the Federal Government to officially inaugurate the school to formally flag off the programme in the state, saying that, “we are waiting for the Vice-President to come and commission the school in the state.

We are waiting for the commissioning of Almajiri education in the state (sic). Normally, very important personality goes to the states and launch Almajiri education as was done in Sokoto, Jigawa, Katsina and other states. As done in other states, we want our schools to take off at the same time, even those under construction.”

According to him, what operates in the three Model One Almajiri schools in the state is for the government to deploy teachers of basic education in the schools who are to teach the Almajiri basic education subjects, including Mathematics, English, while the teachers do not interfere with the Alaramma’s curriculum, saying that he is the one to allocate the time the basic education subjects will be taught by the teachers deployed by the government. He, however, added that SUBEB had directed the Model One schools to wait until the time the Vice-President or any other person would formally flag-off the IQE system in the state for them to fully commence the system in their respective schools.

He informed that SUBEB had sensitised the proprietors of Tsangaya schools in the state on the need for integration into the IQE system, saying that some agreed to introduce basic education in their schools, while some refused. He added that those who agreed had been integrated by SUBEB with a view to ensuring the teaching of basic education subjects in the schools. According to him, going by the census conducted by SUBEB in 2009, there were 7, 646 Tsangaya schools with an enrolment figure of a little bit above 500, 000 pupils. Out of this figure, Baban Saibo said only 620 schools were integrated into basic education with a little above 35, 000 pupils, adding that some of the Alarammas had even indicated their intention to have Western education.

He, however, noted that most of the Almajiri in the state were not from Bauchi State, saying that, “most of them are emigrants, mostly from Kano, Katsina, Jigawa and all these states. We don’t normally interact with their parents. It is the proprietors that we deal with. I can tell you, some of these proprietors have even enrolled themselves to learn Western education in some schools. It is very difficult to interact with the parents because if you find an Almajiri and ask where he is from, if he tells you that he is from Sokoto, how are you going to interact with his parents. It is very difficult.”

Speaking on the challenges faced, he said, “really we encounter challenges but the biggest challenge we have is funding and secondly qualified teachers. These are very, very important challenges to deal with. We have problems of funding and lack of qualified teachers. Even in the formal schools, we need more teachers. If we compare the enrolment, those in public schools are a little more than those in Tsangaya schools. If we need 20,000 teachers in our public schools, we may need at least 10,000 in our Tsangaya schools. It is a big challenge. We are managing this; we assign teachers, though not on permanent appointment but on allowance.

The teachers that we use are on allowance.”

Meanwhile, some parents who spoke with the Nigerian Tribune expressed disgust with the Almajiri system of education in this modern age, submitting that it was high time government at all levels paid more attention to the issue of education in the country for Nigeria to truly attain development. According to Hajiya Rahmatu Bababa, “it is disheartening that some parents still accept Almajiri as a way of life for their children. The fact that most of them passed through the similar system is even enough for them to do away with it and give their children quality education with which to compete with their counterparts from everywhere.

“To me, it is irresponsibility on the part of any parent to give his child to an Alaramma in the name of acquiring Islamic education. It is not the acquisition of Islamic education that is bad, no. In fact, acquisition of Islamic education is compulsory for every Muslim child and every parent has the obligation of giving their children this. What is bad in this is giving away children to Alarammas who themselves are not sure of what they will eat.”

Category: Bauchi State News

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