Looking at a Tsangaya school in Jigawa, 5 years after

The integration of Tsangaya Islamic education into the western system of education has helped in sending hundreds of Almajiris off the streets of Jigawa State, but an investigation by Daily Trust Saturday shows that the inability on the part of the government to expand the existing schools is threatening the system.


The integration of Tsangaya Islamic schools into western system of education was a Federal Government project that came into being in 2012, with a view of ensuring that all Nigerians have access to basic education. Also, the government of the selected states, where such schools would be established, were saddled with the responsibility of providing teaching and non-teaching staff, as well as other necessary logistics for running schools of this type. The pilot scheme took off in 2012 in Niger, Kano, Adamawa, Yobe, Katsina, Oyo, and Jigawa states. Seven of them were established in different locations across the selected local government areas in Jigawa State.

The Tsangaya Islamic schools in Jigawa are categorized into model one and two. The Model One are day schools that were built in the places of the existing Tsangaya Islamic schools, while the Model Two are those that are planned from inception as boarding Tsangaya model schools.

However, at take-off, the Jigawa State government revisited the plan of  the project and remodelled it by making the Model One Tsangaya Islamic Schools to be boarding schools, too.

The model One Tsangaya Islamic Schools, located in Birniwa and Sule, the headquarters of Birniwa and Suletankarkar LGAs as well as in Tarabu, Mai’aduwa, Danbarama in Kirikisima, Gagarawa and Jahun LGAs, are unlike the model two, because they were made boarding schools, with a capacity of enrolling only 50 pupils.

The model two Tsangaya Islamic Schools, located in Gantsa and Gwiwa in Buji and Gwiwa LGAs, have the capacity of enrolling over 300 pupils and above because they are designed from inception to have all facilities required of any boarding school.

The model two schools in Gantsa and Gwiwa, started on a sound footing as the state government provides all logistics as contained in the blueprint of the scheme.

The state government provides the schools with nine conventional and three Qur’anic teachers, cooks, three square meals, uniforms, toiletries and beddings for the Almajiri pupils. The schools are also provided with functional boreholes, and a utility vehicle. The conventional teachers teach nine different subjects, while the Qur’anic ones, also referred to as Alaramas, take care of the Islamic education in a form of typical Tsangaya setting, but in a more conducive environment.

A hall is built in each of the schools for Qur’anic recitations, and during Qur’anic lessons the Almajiris converge to the hall with their slates as it is the case in any typical Tsangaya Islamic school, and at this point the Alaramas take charge.

Apart from the conventional teachers, who are on various salary grade levels in accordance to their qualifications and experience, the Alaramas were all employed on grade level six, while on the other hand the cooks in the schools are on temporary employment and receiving N5,000 remuneration per month.

The schools are, by design, supposed to have classrooms, clinics, Qur’anic recitation halls, language laboratories, as well as entrepreneurship and ICT centers.

However, Daily Trust Saturday found out that the hostel accommodation for the pupils in Gantsa model two boarding school is insufficient, as some pupils sleep on bare floors, without mattress. Also, one of the two motorized boreholes which has been the water source for the school has since broken down, and the school cannot run the functional one on diesel because the school is not connected to electricity. A school source said if not for the alternative manual hand pump borehole, the story of water shortage in the school would been a more pathetic one.

The equipment in the entrepreneurship section of the school, which includes the ICT, tailoring and carpentry centers, have been lying fallow, as since inception they have remained under lock and key. It was also discovered that three years after the establishment of the school, most of the basic daily needs enjoyed by the pupils, like laundry soap, toilet soap and uniforms, are gradually being withdrawn.

The Director Special Programmes, Jigawa State Universal Basic Education Board, Garba Ubandi, told Daily Trust Saturday that there are about 700 Almajiris across the seven Tsangaya Islamic schools in the state. He added that part of the conditions for admitting an Almajiri in the school is the ability to recite from his slate at the time of certification.

Ubandi also said: “The curriculum of the model schools that covers class one to three was specifically designed by Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), but classes four to six use the conventional syllabus. In the past, the State Universal Basic Education Board uses part of its overhead cost to supply the pupils of the schools with toiletries, laundry soap, detergent and others. But now, due to poor funding, some of these have been stopped.”

Ubandi said the Almajiris attend tailoring, carpentry and ICT schools. “Model schools don’t have laboratories. The clinics are not functioning because they yet to start getting supply of drugs, so the pupils attend public hospitals like any other school-going child in the state. Plans are underway to expand these schools in order to give room for more of these Almajiris into the system.”

Tsangaya schools have been hailed as feasible ways of combining western and Qur’anic education, while eliminating the Almajiri system which has come under fire recently because of its far-less-than-wholesome methods which see students/wards endangered in many ways.

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