Schooling and ‘Learned Helplessness’ in Northern Nigeria

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Godwin ODOK, Department of Sociology, Federal University, Dutsin-Ma, Katsina State, Nigeria, Nigeria
Education largely reflects that aspect of culture that seeks freedom as well as facilitates survival, wealth creation and retention. Within northern Nigeria, western education (Boko) is conceived to have served in imparting wealth creation and earning ability to children of the sarakis and alkalis (aristocratic class), excluding children of the talakawas and mallamis (commoners). In this way, children of the aristocratic class receive a kind of instruction in certain ‘schools’ that enable them climb the social and economic ladder over and above their peers who have a different kind of education in ‘almajiri’ schools that diminishes their social capital and bequeath an estate of ‘learned helplessness’ (insufficiently preparing students to gain skills that help them change their ‘circumstances’ of modern life). Adopting an ethnographic research design consisting of archival investigations, interviews, oral tradition and life histories in Katsina State, the paper examines the social processes of social inequalities within northern Nigeria. The paper concludes that many improvements can still be made to influence social, economic and political processes within northern Nigeria to serve the interest of the majority of the people when almajiri school administrators incorporate critical-life-skills acquisition and self-esteem building subjects that deliver basic skills in reading, calculating, thinking and communicating into the almajiri school system.