Mallam Hamza, a local Quranic school teacher in Yel Wawa, a suburb of Jigawa State, is changing the public notion about Almajirai system through his self-reliance approach to the archaic practice.
Commonly, Almajiri children in northern Nigeria engage in alms begging and some menial works for their upkeep and that of their Mallam, in some cases.
But that is not the case with Hamza. According to a tweet by Sadiq Mustapha, he often caters for the children under his care.
When he was younger, Hamza was said to have learned cap embroidery skills. This was in addition to farming experience garnered from his master’s farmland.
“Instead of depending on alms, he spent a lot of his time designing different cap patterns and caring for his vegetable farm,” Mustapha said in the Twitter post.
He added: “When he isn’t teaching the Quran to his students, he shows them how to make caps and how vegetables are cultivated. He believes that knowledge and skill are the paths to being righteous.”
The Almajiranci practice or Almajiri system is an ancient system of islamic education in northern Nigeria where children are convened in a boarding house under the supervision of a mallam, an islamic teacher who teaches them for a period of time.
In this system of education, the students are not entirely the responsibility of the teachers, despite being under his authority.
The practice has faced heavy condemnation by many Nigerians who believed it to be a causative factor of several societal ills including street begging, juvenile crime, terror recruitment among others.
But, the condemnation did little or nothing as the practice kept surging. In 2020, during the pestilence COVID-19 reign, many of these children were repatriated from their studying centres to their home states. As the pandemic relaxed, they returned to the streets again.
Prior to this, the Nigerian government at different times provided aid including infrastructures, in an attempt to modernise the practice, sadly the ancient system overshadows the efforts.