A Borno state government board that was set up to regulate Tsangaya Islamic education system have registered nearly 3000 of such learning centers that are ready to adopt western pedagogy in their curricular.
By Abdulkareem Haruna
As many as 2,775 local Quranic schools, best known as Tsangaya, have been registered by a new board of the Borno state government ahead of the plans to integrate western pedagogy into Quranic schools known for strict teaching of Islamic knowledge.
Before now, it was almost taboo for Tsangayas to contemplate any western curriculum.
The Boko Haram conflict was rooted in the skewed conception that the acquisition of knowledge through western methods of teaching leads to hellfire.
Now in its 13th year, the Boko Haram extreme ideology which later degenerated into the group picking up arms against the Nigerian state had led to the death of well over 200,000 and displaced over five million people, especially women and children.
The ugly situation has since inspired the need to review the concept of the Tsangaya system of education, which in most cases, does not prepare young minds for any productive future aside from the ability to read and memorise the holy books.
Stakeholders in Borno state have since advocated a reform of the Tsangaya system which is also responsible for the prevalence of street children who beg for alms as Almajiris.
The Governor of Borno state, Banagana Zulum, has said that the need to reform the Tsangaya system of Quranic education cannot be overemphasized.
“We must transform the Tsangaya else we will continue to be in problems,” he said.
The governor made this remark when he received an assessment report from the newly constituted Borno state Tsangaya and Islamiya board led by a renowned Islamic scholar, Khalifa-Ahmed Abdulfathi.
The report indicated that of the numerous Tsangayas in Borno state, a total of 2,775 of them have been validated and registered as those ready to integrate western literacy and numeracy into their curricula.
The board said the 2,775 Tsangayyas in Borno state have a total of 12,309 Quranic teachers who are open to the new ways of learning proposed by the government.
Khalifa Abdulfathi said his committee has captured about 224,000 Tsangayya pupils spread across 24 of 27 local government areas that make up Borno state.
“We have found out that 97,279 of the total Tsangayya pupils are boarding learners, while the rest do go to learn from their homes,” he said.
“The board has also found out that 94% of the Almajiris are Borno citizens, while the remaining six per cent are migrants.
“It is heartwarming to note that most proprietors are willing to accept the western numeracy and literacy, skill acquisition and coaching on trading as part of their teaching and learning method.”
The board chairman however noted that about “1,021 of the registered Tsangayyas have no access to water, 1,425 have no toilets and over 2000 have no access to electricity.”
“About 1,683 are qualified for full intervention, while others have indicated a willingness to be integrated.”
The board said it was unable to carry out the inventory of the Islamic schools in the three local governments of Kalabalge, Guzamala and Abadam due to flooding and insecurity in those locations.
“Our limitations during exercise was that many rural areas are not accessed due to insecurity and rainfall.
The board has at the end of the registration and validation report recommended that the “Government should provide basic infrastructure like recitation rooms, toilets, hostels to the Tsangayyas.”
“Train Tsangaya learners to acquire vocation skills; organize a seminar for teachers skills acquisition; Tsangaya teachers should be mainstreamed into the state civil service; government and NGOs should take responsibility for the feeding of Tsangaya pupils to stop them from street begging, and government should draft a unified curriculum for all Tsangayyas in the state.”
Governor Zulum said his major desire for the state is to provide quality education, digital learning abilities, and skills acquisition alternatives for all the children in the state.
He said the state’s Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA), a world bank funded project, has enough funding to enrol more pupils in Tsangaya and cater for their learning and welfare needs.
“I want BESDA to work assiduously with Tsangaya and Islamiyya board in implementing all the recommendations
“Our government will critically examine the recommendations to implement them, and we will provide steady funding to ensure the smooth running of the schools,” he said.
“We must transform the Tsangaya else we will be in trouble because even the formal education sector cannot cater for the educational needs of the state.”
The recommendations made by the board may be welcoming, especially in respect of integrating western numeracy and literacy in those learning centres; however, they have not perfected the sustainability framework for their smooth running.
Khalifa Abdulfathi said the government alone may not be able to provide all the food that will keep the kids off the streets, hence he called on the spirited members of the society to up their acts of charity by constantly donating food to the Tsangaya.