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No longer ‘Christian’ Education: Ulama Edu-preneurship in Ilorin in the New Millennium

No longer ‘Christian’ Education: Ulama Edu-preneurship in Ilorin in the New Millennium  

by Dr. Sakariyau Alabi Aliyu

Thu 28 April 2022  12-14, Zoom  636 4425 1252 (RS Learning)


Formal western education in Africa generally has its roots in Christian missionary endeavours and colonial encounter and was initially resisted by Muslims as Judeo-Christian agenda.  Nevertheless, from the colonial period, Muslims also began to acquiesce and appropriate values of western education, especially for its emancipatory powers.  By the post-colonial period, Muslims of Ilorin have mostly adapted to western education as a social necessity. In spite of this, from the mid-1980s following the oil boom of the 1970s, neoliberal economic policies began to take its toll and education was one of the hard hit sectors. Government responsibility on education declined and by the turn of the millennium, private enterprise had become the major provider of pre-tertiary education in Nigeria. The old fear of Christianization through education resurfaced and challenged the Muslims. Socio-economic contingencies and prodding by the Muslim populace encouraged some of the ulama to venture into edupreneurship. Using the infrastructures of the madrasah education, some of the ulama adapted to the new trend by establishing western Nursery/primary schools; running the two systems in the same space but at different times. What are the arguments of these scholars and how are they managing the tension between embodied and disembodied knowledge for Muslim children? How empowering is education, Islamic and western, for Muslims? Why have Muslims, at different times, approached western education in a variety of ways and how has this rubbed off on the Islamic educational system? Using the conceptual and analytical lens of multiple and adaptive position taking, this paper argues that contrary to the negative stereotypes of Muslims’ educational system as breeding grounds of terrorism, apart from the economic benefit to the system, the development also broadens Muslims’ socio-economic and political agenda. Thus, Ulama Edupreneurs appropriated western ‘Christian’ education for the advancement of Muslims’ and Islamic cause.   

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