Integrated Qur’anic Education: Nigeria Case Study


Tens of millions of children around the globe who do not attend formal schooling are considered to be out of school. A sizable number of these out-of-school children learn in nonformal settings. Throughout several countries in Asia and Africa where Islam is predominant, many out-ofschool children attend nonformal schools called Qur’anic schools. Dating back hundreds of years, these schools cater to the spiritual needs of Muslim children and are places these children go to memorize and recite the Qur’an. In Nigeria, total enrollment at these schools is estimated at over 9.5 million, concentrated in the mostly Muslim North. These students constitute the largest group of out-of-school children in Nigeria. This paper examines the nature of these schools broadly and in the context of Northern Nigeria in particular. It will try to shed some light on the role these schools play in Muslim/ Islamic societies, how they are perceived by local communities, and their comparative advantage over formal schools given the agrarian/rural nature of the environment under which they operate. The paper will also outline current global strategies to universalize basic education and discuss how the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), in alignment with these strategies, plans to transform Qur’anic schools as centers of learning to fast-track its national education reforms. It will later detail how the Nigeria Northern Education Initiative (NEI), a USAID-funded education project implemented by Creative Associates International from 2010 to 2014, collaborated with local governments to incorporate core subjects such as literacy and numeracy, along with vocational training, into the Qur’anic curriculum and mainstream them into the basic education system in Northern Nigeria. In conclusion, the paper will review best practices that could be replicated elsewhere.