Removal of history from school curriculum
Across the world, societies are built on the history of nations. Founded on a well-preserved narrative about their forbears, such societies are shaped by history’s lessons on moral values, social cohesion, politics, as well as cultural and national integration.
On the strength of these ideals, national development picks up as citizens understand their roles and contributions to economic, social and political advancement.
In Nigeria however, the Federal Government officially expunged history from its basic school curriculum in 2007 and relegated it as an elective, instead of a core subject at senior secondary level, thus widening a generational gap on students’ mental development.
The attack on history actually started after the 1969 National Curriculum Conference, which resulted in the adoption of a National Policy on Education, and subsequent adoption of a 6-3-3-4 system of education.
The ensuing years after the conference saw a gradual decline on the teaching of history in Nigerian schools, resulting in the removal of the subject from the 2007 curriculum, which was implemented in 2009 and 2010.
While the decision contradicts the national policy on education, which aligns history with subjects like literature in English and Geography at the Senior Secondary School level, government’s quest for human capital development and eradication of poverty rendered the old curriculum which prioritised history defective.
Consequently, a massive ripple effect has hit universities in the country as very few currently have dedicated departments of history, while some have merged the course with strategic studies, international studies or diplomatic studies.
Apart from undoing such an established system, the surge in criminal activities and glaring lack of nationalistic spirit among young Nigerians, lays credence to the considerable damage the unpopular government policy has inflicted on the society.
Without doubt, lessons derived from national heroes like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Nnammdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa, and Hebert Macaulay among others inspire nationalistic spirit and patriotic zeal, which impact meaningfully on national development.
With the study of history comes an understanding of the society, an imbuement of a sense of identity or belonging, which inspires and warns us to avoid mistakes of the past in order for us to be better people.
As a result, the National Council on Education, NCE, Nigeria’s highest educational policy-making body, must heed the warnings of stakeholders in the sector and reintroduce history as a compulsory subject in basic schools before the country evolves into a dark generation unaware of its legacies.
Government agencies such as the National Education Research and Development Council, NERDC, and the Ministry of Education, which are saddled with the responsibility of reviewing basic education curriculum, must be swift to reintegrate the subject as a core course at both basic and secondary school curriculums.
States, local governments as well as public and private schools, which are implementing agencies should act with a sense of patriotism and ensure that the subject regains its pride of place in the classrooms.
Also, the development or review of instructional materials within the context of the country’s socio political, economic, regional and religious history must be urgently carried out to avoid engaging in the past mistakes of studying American and European history, while students remain ignorant of the nation’s past.
In addition, government’s hiring agencies must segment portfolios for graduates of history in sectors considered to be gainful, to attract more interest on the course and wider enrolment in history departments in universities and other higher institutions.