Paper Title
Almajiri System of Education in Northern Nigeria: Implications for National Development
Godwin C. Agbo, Ph.D

This paper advocates ways to tackle the age long Almajiri culture which has become a menace to the Nigerian society. It notes that the Almajiri system of education in its originality could not have contemplated the ways the practice has been abused in modern times, to wit, the Almajrai are now turned into child labour ‘profession’. They fend for themselves and are equally exploited by their parasitic teachers (Mallams). It further notes that, for some time now, factors such as poverty, government neglect, parental irresponsibility, population explosion occasioned by culture of marrying many wives, undue emphasis on Qu’ranic literacy, etc., have bedeviled the Almajiri system of education in Northern Nigeria. This no doubt has affected the socio-economic development of the zone as well as national development.  For instance, out of about 13.2 million children of school age that are out of school, North alone has about 70% of the number.  This ugly situation which is a sign of educational under-development requires that urgent solutions be proffered to this menace. To do this, government at all levels should eliminate street begging; and ensure that all children are compulsorily enrolled in an integrated education system with emphasis on vocational and entrepreneurial education. This is necessary because to continue having a growing army of uneducated children roaming the street will end up spelling doom to the country.

Development, national development, education, Almajiri system of education


Originally, the Hausa word Almajiri referred to a pupil under the tutelage of an Islamic teacher receiving Qu’ranic education. In those days, the Almajirai were sent by their parents and guardians to far away villages or towns to seek for Qu’ranic knowledge under the guidance and supervision of a Qu’ranic teacher known as a Mallam. Then it was the responsibility of parents or guardians to see to the upkeep of the pupils. The system was also supported and funded by relevant stakeholders viz: traditional institutions; host communities and sometimes through the farm output of the pupils/students. People gave accommodation to the pupils and at times fed them because their population was small (Maraya, 2019).  During the period emphasis was on how the child can learn the rudiments of Islamic Religion especially on recitation and memorization of the Holy Book.


The origin of Almajiri system of education has for decades been the issue for very serious intellectual discourse. Many scholars had in the past given various accounts of its origin.  According to Ahovi, Alabi and Adewale (2019), the practice predates the colonial era. It was a system of education that put children, as young as four years in quest for Quranic literacy. Maraya (2019) opines that “the history of Almajirism, the system that allows people to seek Quranic education is traceable to the advent of Islam in Nigeria, in the year 1056 AD. To Babagana, Idris, Danjuma and Abudullahi (2018), the word Almajiri and the concomitant system of education could be traced to Prophet Mohammed’s migration from Mecca to Medina. Further, they maintained that the word Almajiri coiled from Arabic word Al-Muhajirin was first used by Prophet Mohammed to indicate those of his companions who migrated with him for the sake of Islam from Mecca to Medina. When he migrated from Mecca, some people followed him in search of knowledge and they were catered for; they were not left hungry, they were fed.  The above view was supported by the assertion of Olurode (2019) which is to the effect that “the concept, Almajiri as well as its system of education dates back to the time of Prophet Mohammed’s migration from Mecca to Medina – the period of Hijrah.


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