By: Daud Abdul Fattah Batchelor
The infamous Boko Haram sect erupted on the world stage in 2009 with their aim to establish an Islamic State. Since their subsequent radicalisation resulting from harsh treatment at the hands of State security forces, they degenerated into harassing innocent civilians, especially school children. Boko Haram’s approach is aligned with certain influential opinion-makers in the Nigerian Muslim states who teach that receiving a modern education is evil and forbidden as the popular name of ‘Boko Haram’ implies. Such education is derisively dismissed as “western education” – synonymous with Christian missionaries and British colonialism. Demonisers of such education are often supervisors of traditional “Qur’anic schools”, which follow a restricted non-contemporary syllabus. These are however, still the mainstay of the education system in the twelve northern ‘Shariah-states’. A strong state-driven modern education system is essential, but a state program, which commenced in the 1970s flounded when oil prices fell abruptly. In the northeast and northwest Muslim zones, 50% of children do not attend formal schooling compared with 20% in southern Nigeria. Consequently, large segments of Muslims cannot participate effectively in Nigeria’s development.