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EDITORIAL: Return Of History To School Curriculum

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Times were, when secondary school students could paint vivid pictures of Songhai Empire, Mali Empire, Old Oyo Empire, Bornu Empire, with words.

This was made possible in the past when History was part of the subjects in the secondary school curriculum.

All that changed when government, in its wisdom, took a decision to delist History as a stand-alone subject of study in the primary and secondary schools. It was then argued, in some quarters, that students were no longer attracted to the subject and not willing to pursue it as a degree course in the university.

Expectedly, this gap bred a new generation of youth who could not understand the socio-political and economic realities of the country within the context of our historical evolution.

Indeed, the collateral damage of expunging History from the curriculum can be appreciated from the prism of commentaries by youths on the various social media platforms.

The history of Nigeria, as recent as the June 12, 1993 debacle, not to mention the various internecine wars across the country are, most times, not on the card when this generation of youths are wont to debate.

History, simply defined, is the study of the past. It attempts to discover, collate and interpret data or information – oral or written form – from the past, link it to the present and adopt same for future plans. Indeed, with History, cultural values, ethos, and civilization are preserved.

Despite civilization, it is not possible to graduate from a college in some European countries without studying European History.

Not a few Nigerians have expressed reservation about this development.

There has been clamour and concerns expressed by several groups, in open debates for the re-introduction of the teaching of History as an independent subject and not as a mere appendage of other subjects at primary and secondary school levels.

We cannot agree less given the continued erosion of values that has accentuated various vices considered antithetical to the society in the past.

The Federal Ministry of Education recently developed its plan on “Education for Change: A Ministerial Strategic Plan (2016-2019),” which contains several initiatives and activities to be executed, including the disarticulation of Social Studies and the reintroduction of the teaching of History in primary and secondary schools.

The plan document was approved by the National Council of Education (NCE) at its 61st Ministerial Session of September 27 – 30, 2016. Following this, the National Education Research and Development Council (NERDC), the agency that has the mandate to develop curriculum, especially at this level, was directed to start the process of disarticulating History from Social Studies.

However, more than a year after, this committee has yet to implement this mandate. This is worrisome; given the urgent need to change the current narratives in the polity.

Save for the Lagos State Government which took up the gauntlet using the State House of Assembly to ensure the return of History as a subject, the Federal Government has yet to come up with a decision on this.

This is, therefore, a wake-up call for the committee and the NERDC to wake up from their slumber and bring back History.

To think that Nigeria, with our rich diversity of culture and tradition, wealth of heroes and heroines and their exploits in politics, military, commerce and sports, could attempt to end History, the way we tried to do, is preposterous, to say the least.

In reality, History provides analytical insights into social formations, anthropological developments, inventions and innovations that shape what is called. “our shared humanity.”

The roles of history in governance, conflict resolutions, diplomacy and international relations, science and medical studies, technological developments, nation-building and human relations are vital.

In traditional African culture, our different societies looked up to history by tapping into the knowledge and the accumulated wisdom of their forebears, their sense of values, the morality and the norms which were the foundation of every society.

History has traditionally occupied a unique position in African societies and was prominent as a subject in the preparation and training of the citizen. Clan or village heads, parents, grandparents and older siblings and others from the level of the nuclear family helped to transfer history from generation to generation.



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