The study is on an assessment of problems and prospects of Almajiri system of Islamic education by democratic governments in Sokoto State from 2002-2012. It examines the emergence, development and roles of Qur‟anic schools in the promotion of knowledge in Sokoto State. It also evaluates the implication of begging among the Almajiris as the challenge facing the reforms and development of the Almajiri schools among others. The target population of this study consists of Almajiri schools, local government administrators and community leaders in six local government areas in the three selected states of Sokoto State of Nigeria. A sample size of three hundred and eighty four (384) was recommended for a population of 6000 and above. Therefore 384 were adopted as the sample size for this study. A questionnaire containing 37 items was developed to collect data for the study. The data collected were analyzed and presented in sections. The first section presents the frequency and percentage distribution of bio data respondents and nominal questions as responded by respondents. The second section presents the answers to the research questions using descriptive parameters of mean scores, standard deviation and standard error. The third section presents the testing and interpretation of six null hypotheses using parametric statistical techniques of analysis of variance statistics. All hypotheses were tested at 0.05 alpha level of significance. The major findings are then revealed which include the government should not integrate Qur‟anic and Western education in schools, the reformation will not improve the living and learning standard of the Almajiris and their Mallams and the government should not entirely take ownership of the Qur‟anic Schools. The study further revealed that ineffective reform and implementation to support the integration of Qur‟anic and Western education to improve the living condition of the Almajiris within the states. Finally, some of the recommendations proffered on how to make reformation of Almajiri education achive its desired objectives in Sokoto State include; there should be emergence development measure and significance of Qur‟anic schools in the promotion of knowledge to improve the living condition of the Almajiris in Sokoto State; Government should also try as much as possible to reform and integrate Qur‟anic and Western education in curbing begging among the Almajiri in the states; and there should be effective support from the parents, stakeholders, Mallams and government officials to minimize the challenge facing the Quranic Schools.

1.1 Background to the Study
The traditional Qur‟anic school system in Northern Nigeria known as Almajiri school system or Tsangaya School has witnessed massive and unprecedented reforms.

This system of education has in the past produced Scholars, Architects, Historians, Philosophers, Geographers, Mathematicians and Scientists (Qzigi and Ochu, 1991). But over the years the system has suffered a number of crises from the advent of colonialism to the deepening national economic crisis which not only led to the deterioration of the life of the Almajiris and their teachers but almost led to the total collapse of the whole system. The meaning of the word Almajiri which once refers to a Muslim child who is in quest for Islamic education, has now changed to a Muslim child who is identified with begging, destitution and dependency. These sad conditions of the system attracted many Muslim intellectuals, governments and organizations to propose reforms in the existing system of Almajiri education so that they could merge it with western education.

The idea of reforms in Qur‟anic education can be traced back to the colonial era. The colonialists at first attempted to eradicate Qur‟anic schools in order to replace it with their new (Western) system of education. This effort was protested by the majority of the people who gave their children to Qur‟anic School teachers to go to villages away from the European schools. In an attempt to arrest the situation the colonial masters decided to include some elements of Qur‟anic education in their school curriculum in order to attract the Muslims not to go to traditional Qur‟anic schools. An address delivered by the then superintendent of education in the colonial government, in Northern Nigeria Mr. PG-S.

Beylis reads:
Attempts therefore must be made to harmonize our new learning with the indigenous culture with the aim of providing a society psychologically sound and stable in what was best and what should be proved acceptable in western culture were without prejudice accepted. By this attempt of harmonization, lip-services be paid to some aspects of Islam (Qur‟anic Schools inclusive) and with such a deliberate neglect, it would be possible to eliminate the Islamic value by the result of this harmonization (Ref NO:K 6487/142 of 23rd December, 1926).
This effort by the colonialists had totally failed because the people refused to send their children to the European schools and this led to the total neglect of Qur‟anic schools by the colonial government. But it can be said that this idea of harmonization paved the way for Muslim intellectuals to establish new schools that combined both Islamic and western education.

The commitment of the government for the reform of Almajiri system of education attracted seminars, workshops and conferences. These began from late 1950s to the present time. Many books were published as a result of these seminars and conferences. These made tremendous impact on the development of the Almajiri education (Shehu, 2010). These seminars led to the formation of different advocacy, philanthropic groups and organizations with the aim of assisting the Qur‟anic schools and its pupils in a number of ways which include material assistance, vocational training etc.

The Almajiri initiative in Sokoto is an example in this regard formed in the year 2000 (Shehu, 2010).

Integration of the two systems of education is another way of reforming Qur‟anic education. This started as far back as 1920 with the efforts of the Ansaruddin Foundation and NEPU activities of the 1950s, and later, the establishment of government Islamic schools like the School for Arabic Studies in Kano, the Arabic Teachers College in Katsina and Sokoto Judicial School.

This idea of integration was accepted by some Muslim intellectuals and organizations especially in Kano when they started to establish Islamic primary schools. Some of these schools are: Ma‟ahad Sheikh Nasir Kabara, Fityanul Islam Primary

School, Nababa Badamasi Islamic Primary School, Islamic Foundation Schools Kano,

Hudaibiyya Foundation Schools Kano, etc. Presently there are numerous Islamiyya Primary Schools and integrated secondary schools in all parts of Kano State and Northern Nigeria.

One of the greatest interventions of the Federal Government of Nigeria with regard to traditional Qur‟anic education is the inclusion of Almajiri issue in the compulsory, free Universal Basic Education Act 2004, as follows:

Universal Basic Education means early childhood care and education, the nine years of formal schooling, adult literacy and non-formal education, skills acquisition programmes and the education of special groups such as nomads and immigrants, girl-child and women, Almajiri, street children and disabled groups.

Northern State governments and other federal institutions like Education Tax Fund (ETF), Northern Education Research Project (NERP), National Commission for Mass Literacy etc, are also involved in the integration programme. Another great landmark in the development of Qur‟anic education is the recognition of the integration initiatives by the local and International Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). One of the international donor organizations that has been advocating, funding and conducting research on the integration is the COMPASS (Nigeria) with the support of the United States Agency for international Development (USAID) and works in partnership with the government of Nigeria in Abuja, Bauchi, Kano, Lagos and Nasarawa states (COMPASS, 2005). Other international organizations include UN1CEF and UNESCO.

This study therefore intends to examine a number of intervention measures introduced by the democratic governments in the Sokoto Stateern states of Nigeria aimed at rehabilitating and improving the sad conditions of the Almajiris residing within the states. Emphasis is laid on the programmes put in place by these governments. These programmes include accommodation, feeding, clothing, and improving the health conditions of the Almajiris.
1.2 Statement of the Problem

The traditional Qur‟anic school or Tsangaya is regarded as a primary level of Islamic education, which each Muslim child is supposed to attend in order to be able to read the Qur‟an or at least some chapters of the Qur‟an (Dauda, 2002).

It is a well known fact that these Qur‟anic schools enjoyed a remarkable development after the jihad of Shehu Usman Danfodio and this led to the emergence of Islamic schools in Northern Nigeria (Ozigi and Ochu; 1991).

Unfortunately this effective system of Almajiri education suffered a great set back with the advent of colonialism, which introduced explosive policies that undermined the Qur‟anic schools only to replace it with the Christian oriented schools. The national economic hardship of Nigeria perhaps have contributed in forcing the pupils of the Almajiri schools and their teachers to become beggars that roam the street in search of food. This sad situation has made some of the Almajiris to engage in undesirable acts that are dangerous to the peace and stability of the country. These unfortunate conditions of the Almajiri system of education became so obvious that made the Federal, States and Local Governments of Nigeria to introduce policies and programmes that will reform this system of education so as to suit the needs and aspirations of the society.

The effort to improve Almajiri education in Nigeria and to merge it with western education started from the colonial era, but this effort was regarded by Muslim intellectuals as an attempt by the colonial masters to destroy the system. So the real reform of the Almajiri education was considered to start with the political activities of 1951 - 1953. This attempt continues to be seen in all democratic governments in Nigeria.

But all these efforts proved sometimes in-effective because up till today the menace of Almajiri still remains one of the social vices in Nigeria.

The series of interventions by the military administration contributed to the downfall of the Almajiri education due to the negligence of education in general and the economic crises caused by poor governance by the military dictators. With the return of democracy in 1999 and the re-introduction of Sharia by some northern states of Nigeria, the Almajiri education got much more attention than before. Several intervention programmes and strategies were introduced in order to improve Almajiri education. These programmes include: feeding, clothing, accommodation and health care services. Some of these democratic governments went to the extent of building new model Qur‟anic schools for the Almajiris. The curriculum of these schools combined both Qur‟anic and western education. However, to what extent did the intervention programmes introduced by the democratic governments of the Sokoto Stateern states of Nigeria produced progressive change? Similarly the various approaches and activities carried out by different committees set up by these governments to address the problems of the Almajiri education in Northern Nigeria can it be said to have brought the needed change?

1.3 Objectives of the Study
This study titled; Assessment of problems and prospects of Almajiri system of education by democratic governments in Sokoto State, has the following objectives:

1- Determine the extent of the integration of the Qur‟anic education in the Western education.

2- To examine the nature of the reformation and how it affects the life of the

Almajirai and their Mallams.

3- To determine in what capacity the government can take over the ownership of

Qur‟anic schools in the study area.

4- To asses the effect of the reformation and integration of Almajiri education by democratic governments.

5- To evaluate the challenges of Almajiri reform programms.

6- To proffer solutions in the light of Shariah to the problems facing Almajiri education.

1.4 Research Questions
1. What is the extent of integratoin of the Qur‟anic education into Western education in the Sokoto Stateern Geo-Political Zone?

2. How can the nature of the reformation and how did it affect the life of the

Almajiris and their Mallams be examined?

3. How can the government take over the ownership of Qur‟anic schools in the study area?

4. What is the extent of reformation and integration of the Almajiri education carried out by democratic governments in the study area?

5. What are the features of Almajiri Education that defied the development of the programme?

6. What are the views of Malams on the solution to the problems facing Almajiri Education?

1.5 Significance of the Study
This study is important to the various Governments in Northern Nigeria in particular and the Federal Government in general and also to future researchers on how to improve Almajiri education system. Specifically, the following could benefit from the findings of this study:

i. The Mallams: The Mallams, responsible for teaching the Qur,an could find and utilize the techniques of reformation of Almajiri schools so as to enhance teaching and learning of Qur‟anic studies.

ii. The Almajirai: The study could help the Almajiri pupils acquire sound Qur‟anic and secular education through the provision of feeding, accommodation and integration of the Almajiri schools into modern Qur‟anic schools.

iii. The Community: The community could benefit from the findings of this study by presenting recommendations that will lead to the eradication of begging and other abominable acts which the Almajiri pupils commit due to negligence and lack of proper care. This will help the community to change the bad situation of Almajiri school to achieve the basic objective of Qur‟anic education which is to acquire knowledge for the sake of Allah and not for wordly materials gains.

iv. The Government officials: The study will also be of help to future leaders in Northern Nigeria when choosing or planning relevant projects for the development of Almajiri schools.

1.6 Scope of the Study
This study revolves on the analysis of the numerous reforms and intervention programmes concerning the Almajiri system of Islamic education as was pursued by the democratic governments in Sokoto State, Nigeria from 2002 2012.

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