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Title: Ambiguous adventures: 'traditional' Qur'anic students in Kano, Nigeria
Author: Hoechner , Hannah
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Inequality has been described as a 'global pandemic' that agonises poor young people as they struggle to assemble the necessary knowledge, skills and resources for adulthood. Being excluded from the wealth and opportunities others in society enjoy is a challenging experience. This thesis explores such experiences by looking at the almajiri system in Kano State in northern Nigeria. The almajirai are boys and young men who live with an Islamic teacher to study the Qur'an. In the context of attempts to universalise primary education and escalating fears of Muslim militancy they have attracted overwhelmingly negative attention. Informed by ethnographic and participatory fieldwork, this thesis traces young people's trajectories through the 'traditional' Qur'anic education system. A declining rural economy, a public education system in disarray, and frequent family breakups sustain demand for the system despite its waning status. Almajirai and their parents invoke their religious commitment and the educative effects of hardship to explain enrolment. Yet, their experiences threaten to undermine the almajirai's self-justifications. With inequalities on the rise, they acquire aspirations during their sojourns in urban areas that match badly with the ethos underpinning almajiri education. The 'modem' forms of childhood they wish for will likely elude them, and poverty bars many from accessing the 'modem' knowledge (Islamic and secular) necessary today to earn status or a stable livelihood. While tales of alienation and radicalisation lack empirical footing, the almajirai's future prospects are bleak. Extrapolating from how the almajirai engage with their constrained circumstances, I reflect on the forms of agency available to young people who are incorporated into society on adverse terms. I conclude that groups who, like the almajirai, suffer both economic and valuational disadvantage likely pursue strategies with self-defeating or socially corrosive effects. It is therefore imperative to address the structural forces causing their disadvantage
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available