Daily Trust

Tsangaya schools: How govt’s negligence keeps Jigawa almajirai in streets

The inability of the Jigawa State Government to maintain and expand the Tsangaya Islamic schools in her domain is discouraging a lot of almajirai, forcing a good number of them to remain in the streets, where they beg for alms for survival. Daily Trust on Sunday reports.

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The schools are categorised into model one and two. Model one is day while in model two is boarding. However, at takeoff, the state government revisited the original plan of the project and remodelled it by also making the schools in model one boarding. 

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Model one Tsangaya Islamic schools located in Birniwa and Sule, the headquarters of Birniwa and Suletankarkar local governments, as well as in those in Tarabu, Mai’aduwa, Danbarama in Kirikisima, Gagarawa and Jahun local government areas, were established to accommodate only 50 pupils each.

But the model two schools, located in Gantsa and Gwiwa in Buji and Gwiwa local government areas have the capacity to enroll over 300 pupils because right from inception, they were designed with all the facilities required of any boarding school.

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

The state government provided the schools with nine conventional and three Qur’an teachers, cooks, three square meals, uniforms, toiletries and beddings. The schools were also provided with functional boreholes and utility vehicles.

The conventional teachers were made to teach nine different subjects while the Qur’anic teachers, otherwise referred to as Alarammas, took care of purely Islamic subjects in form of typical Tsangaya setting.

In each school there’s a hall for Qur’anic recitation, where the almajirai converge for Tsangaya lessons.

Unlike the conventional teachers who are on various salary grades, in accordance to their qualifications and experiences, the Alarammas, were all employed on Grade level 6. Also, the cooks have been on temporary employment, with N5,000 remuneration per month.

All efforts to ensure that their monthly allowances are regularized have hit a brick wall as the authorities have been making empty promises.

By its original design, the schools are supposed to have classrooms, clinics, Qu’nic recitation halls, language laboratories, entrepreneurship, as well as information and communication technology centres.

Findings by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed that in Gantsa model two boarding school, hostel accommodation for the pupils is quite insufficient. Some pupils sleep on the floor without mattresses while the roofs of the two blocks of the hostel were blown off by wind, a situation that forced them to converge on the other unaffected hostels. It was discovered that despite a series of complains to the authorities concerned, the affected hostels have been in a deplorable condition for about two years.

Checks also revealed that  the school clinic, which has never been put into use, is not only standing with empty shelves but also has a section of its roof blown off by wind.

One of the two motorised boreholes, which has been the source of water for the school, has since broken down. The school cannot run the functional one on diesel, neither is it connected to electricity. If not for the alternative manual borehole, the story of water shortage in the school would have been pathetic.

A hostel in Gantsa Tsangaya model school

The security of the almajirai is also under a serious threat because about one kilometer of the fence of the school has collapsed for over two years without any effort to rebuild it, leaving a free access to the bush.

Furthermore, the school’s only available vehicle has been grounded for over three years now despite the fact that the school is located far from town and there could be emergency cases notwithstanding. 

At the entrepreneurship section of the school, which accommodates the information and communication technology, tailoring and carpentry centres, various equipment have been laying waste. This is because since inception, the centres have been under lock and key.

Our investigation revealed that the school with 17 classrooms, has a population of 347 almajirai. By any standard, the ratio of pupils per class is fantastic, but there’s clear lack of maintenance, which is putting pressure on the facility.  

It was also discovered that three years after the establishment of the school, most of the social incentives enjoyed by the pupils are gradually being withdrawn. For example, they no longer enjoy free laundry and toilet soaps and uniforms.

The story is the same at Mai’adua in Gagarawa Local Government Area. The Mai’adua Tsangaya Islamic School, which houses 50 pupils, falls under the category of model one. The school has only two conventional teachers. One of the teachers was posted to the school under the N-Power programme while the other one is the school clinic attendant who converted himself to a classroom teacher. There are three Quarnic teachers in the school.

The school has only two classrooms and two hostels that accommodate the 50 pupils. It was also observed that the small Qur’anic recitation hall in the school has started wearing away because parts of its ceiling have started falling off.

Daily Trust on Sunday also observed that the small portion of land on which the school was built is grossly inadequate for academic activities for the 50 pupils. It was also gathered that since the first intake, the school has not admitted any almajiri again as the classrooms and hostel accommodation are not adequate.

Also, the school is not connected to electricity. As a result of this, the pupils live in darkness at night. Unlike in model two schools, the Mai’adua school does not have provision for entrepreneurship, which suggests that after graduation, the almajirai may go back to status quo.

When our correspondent visited another Tsangaya model school in Danbarama in Jahun Local Government Area, it was under lock and key as it is not yet commissioned. However, it was discovered that sections of the school was gutted by fire.

It was also observed that the Quaranic recitation hall of the school was converted to a warehouse as it was stocked with foodstuffs.

When our correspondent contacted the director of special programmes, Jigawa State Universal Basic Education Board,  Garba Ubandi, he said there were about 700 almajirai pupils 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 his slate.

Some students of the Mai’adua Tsangaya school
 

“In the past, the State Universal Basic Education Board used part of its overhead cost to supply toiletries, laundry soap, detergent and others to the schools, but now, due to the present poor economic situation in the country, some of these services have been stopped. 

“They attend tailoring, carpentry and information and communication technology schools. Model schools don’t have laboratories. The clinics are not functioning because they are yet to start getting supply of drugs. The pupils attend public hospitals like any other child in the state.

“Plans are underway to expand these schools to give room for more of these almajirai to be enrolled into the system. There is no school hostel that has its roof damaged. If there is any, we are yet to get report from such schools. As soon as we get the report, action will be taken,’’ Ubandi said.

An educationist and deputy provost of College of Education, Gumel, Dr. Babayo, also told our correspondent that the setback recorded on Tsangaya Model Schools was because government is no longer committed to the project. He said that for the schools to succeed, government must be actively involved, adding that it is a good channel to eradicating ignorance and the almajirai menace in the North. 

“The Quaranic teachers must be trained on formal teaching techniques. Government should also intensify campaign on enlightenment, especially on parents who have apathy for western education,’’ he said.

The integration of the Tsangaya Islamic education into the western system had helped in sending hundreds of almajirai off the streets of Jigawa State, but the inability of government to do the necessary things is threatening the system.

The integration of both systems of education was a Federal Government project which came into being in 2012, with a view to ensuring that all Nigerians have access to at least basic education. Various state governments where such schools were established were saddled with the responsibility of providing teaching and non-teaching staff, as well as other necessary logistics for their operation.

The pilot scheme started in seven selected states across the country, namely, Niger, Kano, Adamawa, Yobe, Katsina, Oyo and Jigawa states.