BY VICTOR OKEKE, Abuja –
The Vice Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) Professor Abdalla Adamu has cautioned that the almajiris should not be regarded as illiterates because they are roving scholars in search of knowledge.
Professor Adamu said this yesterday at 11th Conference on Literature in Northern Nigeria organised by NOUN in Abuja adding that the almjiris are learned in Arabic.
He said the “Almajiris are very literate people who are seen as illiterates. You see those Almajiris going about dirty, haggard and begging. They are not just beggars, they are scholars. They have been sent from one place to another to learn and all of us here including you are almajiri because almajiri means someone who moves from one place to another searching for knowledge. If you leave your home and go to the University of Ibadan to study, you are an almajiri.”
According to Adamu, the almajiris study Arabic, learn Arabic and can read and write in Arabic fluently. “Ask any one of them, give him the Koran, he can read it. They have used the letters of the Koran and now they are able to compare their own letters themselves. They can read and write in Hausa but using Arabic scripts which they have been learning everyday. They don’t go to western conventional schools so they don’t learn A, B, C, D, but they have learned the Arabic alphabets.”
He however added that almajiri schools that have been built by successive governments are not wasted efforts as the almajiris have not said they wouldn’t go to school.
“The government in various states have been making arrangements in order to make sure that the almajiris attend western schools but it is very important to understand that the almajiris are not abandoning their primary mandate which is to acquire Islamic education,” he said.
The Vice Chancellor maintained that literacy goes beyond the ability to read and write in English. “If you say literacy, you are talking about a person being able to read and write in any language.”
He said that the purpose of the conference is to draw attention to Northern Nigerian genre of literature adding that “The idea is to say that Northern Nigeria publishes, is not backward and is literate.”
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