The Almajiri system of education has for long been the topic of debate in the country, particularly in Northern Nigeria. Some are of the opinion that it should be abolished totally while others spiritedly searched for an alternative to the system. In fact, some states had already sent the Almajiris back to their respective states of origin, suspecting that their roaming in the streets and peeping into homes is a menace to the public.
Coming up with a solution to this lingering problem has been the topic of discussion for several years. Many public commentators have added their voices to the debate with some supporting the abolition, while others holding contrary views. But as usual, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has a good initiative, divergent from both the views – ‘for and against’ the system (Almajiri). His own initiative for dealing with the system was borne out of his desire to cater for all, regardless of status and class. Already, Tambuwal has upgraded the two Almajiri Schools within Sokoto from their moribund state before his administration, to modern standard.
Two years ago, Governor Tambuwal led a delegation from Sokoto to faraway Indonesia, as part of the plans for taking Sokoto State to greater heights through the reform of the Almajiri system of education and on other areas of development. And, there, he noted a solution to the very debate Sokoto and other Northern States are entangled in, with regard to the issue. The Indonesian Pondok system of Almajiri education which is operational in some Muslim countries of Asia is just the panacea. Sokoto State’s pursuit of the system in a re-modelled form would make it the brightest star in Northern Nigeria. Pondok system entails a combination of Qur’anic education with western one as well as the provision of skill training simultaneously to Almajiri pupils, which will make them become self-reliant on completion of the search for their education.
This shows how advantageous is the system to the Quranic pupils. The structures within the Indonesian Pondok system are everlasting and infinite. If there is any alternative to Almajiri system in Northern Nigeria, it is the Indonesian Pondok system.
As Social Institution too, the Indonesian Pondok system has played a major role over the centuries. It emphasises core values of sincerity, simplicity, individual autonomy, solidarity and self-control. Children just like Almajiris are separated from their families, which contributes to a sense of individual commitment to the faith and close bonding to a teacher.
Let me pay tribute to the leader of the new modern Sokoto, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal for becoming the unbreakable shield to these defenseless children roaming the streets of Sokoto. Any sane or kind-hearted person will have to feel for them. And Tambuwal, again, with no exception, came to their rescue. If implemented and going by his staunch opposition to immoral conduct, and behaviour, and as he pledged during a stakeholders meeting held in Sokoto, the ancient city will once again be in the limelight.
On many occasions, a lot of us in the state misunderstand his ways. Whenever he makes a case for Sokoto, the outcome will naturally unfold as the best decision. He has a way of silently achieving the unachievable in a manner that other actors got swayed to his side. He is exceptionally the best mathematician in the field, and unarguably amongst the best administrators in Nigeria.
The education sector in its entirety has been given much elaborate attention by Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal’s administration. To make the work easier, Tambuwal subdivided the sector into Ministries of Higher Education, and that of Basic and Secondary Education assisted by Arabic and Islamic Education Board, and Female Education Board in order to provide an affordable Education template that the present and next generation will be proud of.
As if that is not enough, Tambuwal reinvigorated and rejuvenated Sokoto State Universal Basic Education to further enhance and re-energise the Education of Sokoto citizens. Tambuwal further accorded a high premium to the Ministry of Science and Technical Education by changing it to the Ministry of Science and Technology alone, and schools under it receiving the needed care.
The results of these massive outreaches to the Education Sector in Sokoto State are overwhelming. There is no doubt Tambuwal has achieved indelible footmarks in the Sector that can stand the test of time. The State Government has also passed the Compulsory Education Bill which stipulates penalties for parents that deny their wards the chance of going to school. The bill mandates not only the enrolment of students but also the retention in a school of every child in the State.
The State Consultative Committee on Education headed by the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar has built, renovated and upgraded a number of schools across the 3 Senatorial Districts of Sokoto. To summarise it all, Sokoto State Government from 2015 to date has built, renovated, and upgraded hundreds of schools across the 23 Local Governments.
With the Indonesian Pondok system set for implementation in Sokoto, Tambuwal will once again emerge as the saviour of the downtrodden. The talk of his naivety, and the rescue mission he spearheaded to the clothless, and homeless Almajiris walking barefooted on streets in Sokoto will become the legacy of legacies. And if sustained, the North will redeem its long gone position in the annals of history.
Mr Lema wrote from Sokoto, and can be reached via [email protected]