The Tsangaya System of Education and Insecurity in Borno State.

By Abacha Gana, Maiduguri.

Since the inception of insurgency in Nigeria in 2009, Over 5million people have been displaced while number of public structures; schools, hospitals and markets were destroyed as a result of the activities of insurgents in the three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. National Emergency Management agency (NEMA) in 2017 confirmed a total of over 200,000 students were out of school as of 2014 due to the activities of insurgency in the three states, adding that the Safe School Initiative of the Federal Government was initiated to absorb the students in schools outside the troubled states.

Taking hot tea from morning to night has been a popular practice among Tsangaya students especially those doing Tilawa or Takara as referred in Hausa. What then is happening to this interesting practice among Tsangaya students in Borno state and Maiduguri in particular is a question most old time Tsangaya students would like to find answers to.

Tsangaya education system is a form of schooling that is informal which seeks to enable children to memorize the entire verses of the holy Quran by heart which is often referred to as rote learning in the formal educational system. It is otherwise referred to as Islamic education which focuses on recitation and understanding of the verses of the Holy Qur’an.

From time immemorial, Borno state has been one of the centers of Islamic education in Nigeria; as Islam first came to the country through Kanem Borno. Borno is often referred to as “Home of Quran, and Qur’anic memorizations”.

Most families in the state have accepted this form of education as it has been the tradition of parents to send both their male and female children to Tsangaya schools for lessons in the morning and evening respectively.

Apparently, most Tsangaya schools operates as boarding schools while others as day. Most of the schools are either located in an open space along the streets of Maiduguri or at the houses’ of well to do or renown teachers (the Sayinna as refered to in Kanuri).

Children were brought from faraway to the state for Tsangaya education, the students are enrolled as boarding students while residents of the state are mostly enrolled as day students.

Statistics available reveals that Borno state has the highest number of Tsangaya students in the North Eastern region of the country, recording 909,317 students. This might not be unconnected with the influx of people from neighboring states and countries like Republic of Chad, Cameroun, Niger and Benin republic.

In an interview, some parents whose children are in the system noted that, they are eager to see their children become sound Qur’anic memorizers and translators who may eventually save them from the punishment of hell fire in the hereafter.

The year 2009 marked the beginning of backwardness of Tsangaya educational system in Maiduguri the Borno state capital. The present insurgency confronting the state necessitated the backwardness. It was evident that before the violence became worst, lessons in Tsangaya schools were conducted freely throughout Maiduguri and its environs without any hindrances. With the relative peace being enjoyed across the state Lessons has fully takeoff in almost all the tsangaya schools across Maiduguri. classes starts from 2pm and ends 5:30pm.

An interview with one of the teachers at Garba Buzu Tsangaya school Mallam Adam Muktar says the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says “best of you is he who learns the Quran and teaches it”, motivated him to start teaching in the school.

He further added that “Adult Tsangaya students (the Gardawa) are known for Qur’anic recitation with public address system at night and taking hot tea to enable them remain awake, but the insecurity has become a major threat to all our activities”.

Apart from the insecurity, the introduction of modern Tsangaya or Qur’anic memorization Islamiya schools is seen by most Mallams or Sayyinnas as another threat to the long existing Tsangaya system of education. This is so because most parents especially elites prefer
sending their children to such school.

With the insecurity in Maiduguri and its environs, what will be the fate of Tsangaya schools in the nearest future? Remains a question