chapter  2
15 Pages

Pupil and Teacher

WithDavid Williams

If their administration had little effect on the villages of Northern Nigeria, the British introduced to them, however hesitantly and slowly, a revolutionary agent - western education. Koranic schools are found throughout the Muslim areas of Northern Nigeria - Lugard estimated that there were at least 25,000 in 1914. Pupils in these, usually in the open air, are taught to recite, and sometimes to write, passages from the Koran by a “Mallam”, who might himself have only a smattering of Arabic, and who teaches his pupils to use an Arabic script, but little Arabic. Shehu Shagari himself was attending such a school in his village at the age of four, using a wooden slate, a reed pen, and “home-made” ink. Real literacy in Arabic, and in Hausa, a language with a literary tradition centuries old, was confined to a small class of learned men.