1.1 Background to the study
The issue of Almajirai has remained worrisome in the minds of northern elites. This is because the practice has been a source of embarrassment to the region. The concept of Almajiri came as a result of Prophet Muhammad’s migration from Mecca to Medina. In Hausaland the term Almajiri could take any of the following forms; any person irrespective of gender, who begs for assistance on the street or from house to house as a result of some deformity or disability; children between the age of seven and fifteen who attend informal religious school who equally roam about with the purpose of getting assistance or alms; or even a child who engages in some form of labour to earn a living.
According to Muhammad (2010) the concept of Almajiri education in Nigeria started in the days when the quest to acquire knowledge was prevalent, especially the Qur’anic knowledge by the Muslims, there were no laid down procedures or channels to adopt in obtaining such, except the unconventional way to a supposedly teacher, known as Malam. It was this Malam that now enlist the child to the teaching of religious scriptures and Islamic way of life are introduced to the young pupils. It was so perfect and rewarding that highly educated Sheikhs and Mullahs who became successful in life by holding positions of judges and teachers that were molding the minds of the young on how to become righteous and exemplary in their future lives. However, when the civilized life styles of the west started encroaching into the big cities of the north, some of these Malams became allured to the greed for money and started migrating to the cities and towns with their pupils and subjected them to vagaries of the streets.
He further explained that one teacher can register up to a hundred and more pupils who he singularly keeps, guides and control. To keep them fed and accommodated are also part of the teacher’s responsibilities. But nowadays even to keep and feed one hundred mouths is not easy, and perhaps impossible. But life must go on, and the pupils have to, as a must, acquire the knowledge their parents sent them to do. The little stipends the parents were able to give their wards for them and the teachers hardly sustains them for a month, so an alternative means of getting more income has to be employed. During the day time, when there are no classes the pupils are allowed to roam into the town and wander around until when classes were to begin. It is this going about around the town that affords the pupils to engage in menial jobs that fetches them some little amounts. This also was a kind of stopped by the people because they have other means of doing such jobs and so the pupils venture into house to house begging for remnants of food to eat. It is also said that the pupils take back part of this food to the teacher. It is clear from the above, that the teacher himself is gaining from the engagements of the pupils in the town, and can do anything to sustain it.