n Southern African Review of Education with Education with Production - Alternative pathways to universal basic education : through the lens of Almajiri nomadic schooling in northern Nigeria

Volume 23 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1563-4418


Sedentary pathways to organise teaching and learning in fixed-abode classrooms remain a dominant formal schooling practice. This is in contrast to nomadic pathways, which see teachers and/or learners engaged in a form of mobility whilst teaching/learning outside permanent sedentary settings. In northern Nigeria, not all children participating in forms of nomadic curriculum practices are regarded as part of the formal state schooling system, and they are therefore not included in official records on access to basic education. This article focuses on one nomadic model, the Almajiri schooling system based on Qur’anic philosophical roots, to explore the factors influencing its official non-recognition as an alternative pathway in the Nigerian universal basic education system. Combining a historical and thematic review of secondary data, it examines the conceptual and political challenges of Almajiri nomadic schooling. Using Sen’s (2000) theory of active and passive social exclusion, it identifies both internal curriculum and external socio-historical, political and cultural forces influencing the status of this nomadic schooling pathway. Whilst nomadic models have potential as alternative pathways to improve access to basic education, there is a need to examine the nature of the governance of this style of schooling and the quality of education it offers. Furthermore, the article raises important questions about universal basic education agendas and argues for broadened definitions of formal education and schooling that address the specificities of localised aspirations and embrace complexities in alternative models. Suggestions for future research are included.

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