8.3 History of Education: Can you describe the Koranic School System?



8a iii). Illustrate the Koranic School System

The Koranic School System

Children between the ages of six and fifteen are admitted to the Koranic schools, usually found in or outside a mosque, but sometimes in private houses or premises. In these schools, the Mallam (teacher) teaches the children to memorize the shorter verses of the Koran through repetition and rote.  The teacher uses tada (ink) to write each chapter on the wala (slate) of each child. At the primary level, children are only required to memorize one or two of the shorter chapters in each part of the Koran that are needed for daily prayers.

From here the child is taught the alphabet of the Arabic language, which is composed of 26 letters, all consonants. This stage lasts between six and thirty-six weeks. This is followed by a period in which the child is taught the formation of syllables with vowels, which are four notations or signs written above or below a consonant to indicate what vowel sound should go with it. The newly acquired skills are used to read the first two parts of the Koran all over again. This stage can take between six and eighteen months.

The above is the elementary level, which every Muslim must pass through to be able to pray and perform other religious duties and ceremonies, which are done in Arabic.

Some students proceed to secondary school or Ilm, which has a wider curriculum covering Islamic literacy, theological and legal subjects. The curriculum includes tafsir, the interpretation of the Koran; literature, mainly derived from Koranic commentary; study of hadith, the texts that contains teachings about the Muslim faith, traditions, rites, personal conduct, and social organization; study of the fight, the theory of Islamic sacred law (sharia), which prescribes people’s status, duties and rights; Arabic; Madith or praises to Prophet Muhammad; Sira or literature on stories in prose and verse about the life of The Prophet; and Wa’z which is literature describing the Islamic ideas of paradise and hell.

The secondary level is for students of all ages.  The stage merges with the post-secondary level and marks the point where the students start to specialize in a chosen area. This marks the beginning of the university level.  Having chosen the area of the specialization, the student proceeds to a university or continues under the tutelage of local specialists. At the end of university learning, a license is awarded, empowering one to practice either as a teacher (Imam or Alkali), depending on their specialty.

Some of the characteristics of the Koranic educational institutions are:

  • There are no rigidly codified rules; only conventional was of behavior to guide pupils and
  • Periods for classes are vaguely
  • Teacher can declare a holiday if included in other matters such as burial a naming
  • Teacher-pupil relationship is cordial and, personal, with the former acting as a
  • School week starts from Saturday to
  • Usually, there are three sessions a day, whose times for beginning and ending vary from area to area and from teacher to
  • Fees are nominal, paid in cash and kind, and not fixed. Teachers may also receive gifts, especially during the festive
  • During the month of Ramadhan, pupils accompany their teachers to their preaching
  • On ceremonial occasions, pupils present plays based on the life of The Prophet.
  • The Walimat or graduating ceremony is the most momentous occasion in the life of a Muslim scholar and can take place any time after the primary
  • Teacher qualifications differ from school to school and from place to place and range from the highly learned Ulama to those whose only qualification is that they can recite the Koran and write Arab characters.
  • Most schools are run according to the discretion of the individual proprietors, who are usually Koranic schoolteachers themselves. Due  to this, there is no uniform curriculum, teacher qualifications, teacher wages, tuition and admission fees, and


Note: The lack of a well-defined and rigid structure of Koranic schools, unlike in formal schools which are rigidly segmented into levels and learning programs.

Question:   What are the four levels into which the Koranic school system is divided?

Activity:   Using what you have learnt in this lesson, try to come up with as many differences as you can between Koranic and forma schools.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s