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Striving for Knowledge and Dignity: How Qur’anic Students in Kano, Nigeria, Learn to Live with Rejection and Educational Disadvantage

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  • Hannah Hoechner

    (University of Oxford, UK)

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    What is it like for young people not to conform to increasingly globalised standards of ‘modern childhood’, as epitomised by formal schooling? Drawing on ethnographic and participatory research conducted with Qur’anic students (Almajirai) in Kano, Nigeria, this article explores how young people – excluded from forms of knowledge to which they aspire – struggle to make sense of the constraints upon their lives and futures. It first traces how the Almajiri system evolved from a prestigious avenue to power into a coping strategy for the poor. It then describes the educational policy context of the Almajirai's experiences and explores how, shut out from modern Islamic and secular models of education, they cope with the exclusion and rejection they face in daily life. Throughout the article, the problematic implications of pushing for universal enrolment without addressing the inequalities governing access to education that is meaningful and of acceptable quality are pointed out.A quoi ressemble la vie des jeunes qui ne correspondent pas aux normes de plus en plus globalisées de ‘l’enfance moderne’, telle que la symbolise l’école formelle? En nous appuyant sur une recherche ethnographique et participative menée auprès d’élèves d’écoles coraniques (appelés les Almajirai) de Kano, au Nigeria, nous cherchons dans cet article à savoir comment les jeunes – exclus des formes de savoir auxquelles ils aspirent – donnent tant bien que mal un sens aux contraintes qui pèsent sur leurs vies et leurs avenirs. Nous cherchons tout d’abord à déterminer comment et pourquoi le système des Almajirai, après avoir constitué une porte prestigieuse d’accès au pouvoir, est devenu une stratégie de survie pour les pauvres. L’article décrit ensuite le contexte de politique éducative dans lequel vivent les Almajirai, et examine la manière dont ces jeunes – écartés des modèles d’éducation moderne musulmane ou laïque – font face à l’exclusion et au rejet qu’ils subissent quotidiennement. Tout au long de cet article nous soulignons les conséquences problématiques associées au fait de pousser à la scolarisation universelle sans remédier aux inégalités dans l’accès à une éducation pertinente et d’une qualité acceptable.

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    Article provided by Palgrave Macmillan & European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) in its journal European Journal of Development Research.

    Volume (Year): 23 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 5 (December)
    Pages: 712-728

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    Handle: RePEc:pal:eurjdr:v:23:y:2011:i:5:p:712-728
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