What is Almajiri System! As El-Rufai Says Almajiri System Has Come To An End

What is Almajiri System

The Kaduna governor said the first step towards ending the system is the repatriation of the children to their states of origin.

El-Rufai said the children will thereafter be returned to their parents while the state governments will ensure they are enrolled in school

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The almajiris are the out-of-school children in the northern part of Nigeria who usually engage in street begging. They constitute a significant portion of Nigeria’s 13.2 million out of school children.

Getting them out of the street and giving them proper education has always been an issue on the front-burner in the north.

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The coronavirus pandemic has taken the almajiri discourse to the centre stage again as the children are being deported to their various states over the fear of COVID-19 spread.

In his latest comment on the development, of Kaduna state said the has ended in his state.

The Kaduna state governor told Channels TV that over 30,000 of them had been repatriated to other states.

It was gathers that Governor El-Rufai said efforts are already ongoing to ensure the system remains a thing of the past in the north. He said parents of almajiris were being educated to take up their responsibilities and send their children to school instead of allowing them to wander on the streets.

El-Rufai said the Northern Governors Forum, an association of state governors in the north, has collectively and unanimously decided to put an end to the .

According to the Kaduna governor, the first step towards ending the system is the repatriation of the children to their states of origin.

After the repatriation, the children will be returned to their parents and ensure they are enrolled in school, Governor El-Rufai added.

“We have done that in Kaduna; we have repatriated over 30,000 almajiris from other states back to their states and we are happy to receive any almajiri from any state of the federation that are indigenous to Kaduna,” El-Rufai said.

He added that his administration is expanding the schools in the state to accommodate more children.

According to him, 169 almajiris who were of Kaduna origin have been repatriated from Kano state.

He noted that though 65 of them tested positive for coronavirus but expressed happiness to receive them.

Earlier, Ejesgist.com reported that about 150 travellers including almajiri children were recently intercepted by security operatives along the Abuja- Kaduna road.

The travellers were attempting to move into Kaduna state from the Federal Capital Territory, (Abuja) and Nyanya in Nasarawa state.

This was disclosed by the commissioner for human resources and social development in the state, Hafsat Baba.

The commissioner added that other almajiris were also intercepted in Soba and Giwa local areas of the state.

Out of the 150, 90 are from Kano state, while the others are from Nasarawa and Birinin Gwari local in Kaduna.

In another report, Governor El-Rufai has narrated the ordeal he endured in isolation while undergoing treatment for COVID-19 and how he contracted the virus.

The Kaduna state governor disclosed on Tuesday, April 28, that he suffered serious headaches and fever within the first week of his isolation.

Speaking in a Hausa live media chat with selected radio stations in Kaduna, the governor said though he was not certain as to when or where exactly he contracted the virus, he suspected that he picked it up from Abuja where he attended several meetings.

History of the in Nigeria

The word “Almajiri” is derived from the Arabic “Al muhajirun”, “an emigrant”. It usually refers to a person who migrates from his home to a popular teacher in the quest for Islamic knowledge. This is the basis of the Almajiri system in what became Northern Nigeria.


Before British colonisation, a system called Tsangaya prevailed in the Kanem-Borno Empire. It was established as an organised and comprehensive system of education for learning Islamic principles, values, jurisprudence and theology.


Modelled after madrasahs in other parts of the Muslim world, Tsangaya was funded largely by the state. Islam traditionally encourages charity, so the community readily supported these al majiri. In return, the al majiri gave back to the society, mostly through manual labour.


The Dan-Fodio Jihad brought with it some modifications; the establishment of an inspectorate of Qur’anic literacy, whose inspectors reported directly to the Emir of the province, concerning all matters relating to the school(s).

In those days, the pupils lived with their parents/guardians for moral upbringing, and all the schools were located within the immediate environment from where the pupils came from.


The students were at liberty to acquire skills in between their Islamic lessons, and so were involved in trades such as farming, fishing, masonry, among others. Many were the farmers whose produce formed the famed groundnut pyramids After colonisation, al majiri were recruited by the British as miners in Jos.


The system also produced the judges, clerks, and teachers who provided the colonial administration with the needed staff. The first set of colonial staff in Northern Nigeria was provided by the al majiri schools.


With the coming of the British, the capture of Emir Aliyu of Kano and the death of Muhammadu Attahiru of Sokoto, the emirs lost control and accepted their new roles as vassals to the British. They also lost fundamental control of education.


The British abolished state funding of Tsangaya, arguing that they were religious schools. “Karatun Boko”, western education was introduced and funded instead. With this loss of support, the system collapsed.


The pupils, and their Mallams, having no financial support, resorted to begging for survival. Animosity and antagonism grew, worsened by the belief that the western education was of Christian-European origin and therefore anti-Islamic. Fears grew that children with Western education would eventually lose their Islamic identity.

The Mallams increasingly sent their students out to beg. To make ends meet, some of these Mallams began to impose “kudin sati”, a form of weekly fees, on the students, reassuring them that to beg was better than to steal. The students in their turn swam into society with no bearing. This was the genesis of the predicament of the Almajiri system today.


But enough of blaming the Brits, we have been “independent” for two generations, and the problem is now ours.

A UNICEF report from 2014 put the number of Almajiri in Nigeria at 9.5 million, or 72 per cent of the country’s 13.2 million out-of-school children. This is a disaster unfolding before our eyes, as some estimates claim that the number of out of school children in the country has risen past the 15 million mark, more of them in the North.


Clearly, there has to be a way to revive the Tsangaya system of old, and it starts with enforcing standards. The system as is currently practised ensures that loads of children never make it.


The system is filled with semi-literate Mallams. This means that students struggle to cater for themselves and to support Mallams. Some are lost through crime and violence in the streets, while others are lost through disease and hunger. This is showing up in rising insecurity as the victims of massive indignity have finally, perhaps unconsciously, had enough. It is a natural consequence of a shrinking pot to share, a lack of productivity, and a growing population of people fed by resentment, and with no hope for the future.


Looking back at the basis of the Almajiri system, and the years of mistrust that have coincided with its decline and eventual failure, it is clear that proper Islamic scholars in Nigeria have a lot of work to do. There is a nexus between Islamic and Western education, and it is our job to find it, and urgently. The alternative is too chilling to contemplate


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