One in five out-of-school children worldwide is Nigerian. In Africa’s most populous country, at least 10.5 million children under the age of 14 are in school. In the northern regions of the country, a large number of them receive only “Quran education”, which does not necessarily include learning to read and arithmetic. In an effort to address this, Unicef has developed a program to introduce some of the traditional programs in these religious facilities.
Children’s songs reciting their lesson resonate in the streets of Dambatta. These school children are educated in one of the many Islamic primary schools in this large city with over 200,000 inhabitants, 70 kilometers from the large city of Kano.
In northern Nigeria, state schools inspire mistrust, a fear inherited from colonial times, and the introduction of Western education by Christian missionaries in Nigeria. “Most subjects taught are linked to Islam. That is the difference, because in other schools there are few subjects that have a connection to religion “, says Wasilu Adamu, principal of the Islamic primary school in Leastreet.
His establishment, which has more than 590 students, is one of the 35 Islamic schools where part of the classical program has been integrated by Unicef. Hadi Sabiu Mustapha is one of the trained teachers. “We introduced the concepts of arithmetic and literacy. Today, our students pass their exams and can even continue their studies in other schools. They also know the Koran and English well! He argues.
In addition to the introduction of these new subjects, the teachers were trained in new teaching methods, which they can then share within their school. Results: 72 children from this school were able to continue their education in college last year.
A pride, according to Bello Lawan, representative of the students’ parents: “I send my children to a Koranic school because I want them to learn their religion. But over time, we have accepted that in addition to teaching the Koran, they are also exposed to Western education. This school makes us proud. Our children learn not only English, mathematics, but also computer skills. “
This establishment makes it possible to emphasize girls’ education, according to Muntaka Mukhtar Mohammed, education specialist for Unicef in Kano. “One of our main goals is to give little girls, no matter where they are, equal access to basic education. In all these Koranic schools where we operate, the majority of students are girls, because parents prefer to send them to this type of facility. So this is already a step forward. “
The program, implemented by Unicef in collaboration with the state of Kano, currently applies to 420 Koranic schools out of the more than 13,000 established in the region.