New research on the Almajiranci system of education

RiCES postgraduate researcher Hadiza Kere Abdulrahman has recently been busy speaking about her doctoral project on the Almajiranci system of education in Northern Nigeria.  

In June, she spoke at both the University of Lincoln Africa Research Forum  and at the 2016 Cadbury Conference, Bodies of Text: Learning to be Muslim in West Africa on ‘Contested Representation of Northern Nigeria’s Almajirai and Qur’anic Schooling‘.

In December 2016 in Washington, DC, she will take part in a panel of the African Studies Association, co-sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa, entitled ‘New Voices in the Study of Islam in Africa I: The Production and Contestation of Muslim Institutions in Contemporary Africa’. An abstract of her paper, ‘Contested Representations of Northern Nigeria’s Qu’ranic Schools and Almajirai’, is below.

‘Contested Representations of Northern Nigeria’s Qu’ranic Schools and Almajirai’ (Abstract)
Hadiza Kere Abdulrahman

‘Almajiranci, Islamic-based system of education in Northern Nigeria, involves boys as young as seven being sent off to study and memorize the Qur’an under the tutelage of a Malam. It is currently a topic of great debate in Nigerian society as researchers and the media have linked Almajiranci and Almajirai to everything from religious uprisings to Boko Haram and political unrests. Early indications from my phenomenological study of the products of Almajiranci have shown that the narratives employed above are contradictory to the narratives that the past Almajirai create and utilize for themselves. The critical and negative representations of Almajiranci are at odds with the ones they have of themselves. There is therefore a tension between the dominant narratives and the experiences of these young men, who see the value of Almajiranci and whose identities—as humans and as Muslims—have been shaped by the system. This research gives voice to the Almajirai, who are centrally involved in the construction, contestation and transformation of meaning in the system. The misrepresentation of the Northern Nigerian Almajiri’s identity and its broader political and social significance is at the heart of this research, which opens up cross-disciplinary inquiry on religion, education and identity.’

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