James Sowole in Akure
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has faulted the recently revised Basic Education Curriculum, which merged the formally independent subjects into one called ‘Religion and National Values’.
The subjects according to CAN, Ondo State are Christian Religious Studies, Islamic Studies, Civic Education, Social Studies and Security Education, which have been merged into one compulsory subject.
Addressing journalists in Akure, the CAN Chairman, Reverend John Oladapo, who was accompanied by other officers of the association in Ondo State and south-west, said though a review of curriculum by government is desirable in order to provide functional education, such exercise ought to be done with caution.
He said the review ought to eliminate subject matter overlaps, redundancies and enrich curriculum quality through the infusion of emerging issues.
Oladapo said the review as done by the federal government through the Nigerian Education Research and Development Council (NERDC) was faulty because holistic view of rights as enshrined both in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Child Rights Act were not taken into consideration.
He said the constitution and the act pointed to the fact that the parents or legal guardians should be taken into consideration in any matter that affects the interest of the child.
“Unfortunately, the current educational curriculum did not take all these into consideration. In fact parents as stakeholders were not consulted before the formulation and implementation.
“The right of the child not to be exposed to a contrary religion outside that of his parents or guardian was not taken into consideration by this curriculum.
“This has been made possible because the NERDC-approved textbooks for this subject contain materials on both Christian Religious Studies and Islamic Studies.”
Quoting Section 38(2) of the 1999 Constitution, the CAN chairman said: “No person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or take part in any religious observance that is contrary to his religion or religion of his or her parents or guardian.
“Also, subsection (1) of the same Section 38 makes it explicit that freedom of worship is sacrosanct.”
Quoting some of the alleged offensive and controversial part of the curriculum, Oladapo said the disadvantages of the omnibus integration outweigh whatever could be the advantages.
“When five subjects are merged into one, it is obvious that detailed work cannot be achieved both in writing of the textbook and the teaching. The child will be made to struggle to learn and comprehend five in one subject, which is not going to be easy.
“The result would be ‘penny wise pound foolish’ as excellence would be sacrificed at the altar of social integration.”
He therefore advocated that Christian Religious Studies and Islamic Religious Studies should be allowed to stand separately as independent subjects with separate textbooks just like Nigerian languages in line with the previous curriculum.
He also called on relevant authorities responsible for implementing the new curriculum to as a matter of urgency, reverse it and revert to the previous one, adding that attempts to make the omnibus subject compulsory for the Basic Education Certificate Examination should be discontinued.
The clergy also said there should be public hearing on the curriculum to galvanise the opinion of parents on the sensitive matter. He said the federal government should devise means of confronting directly those who propagate violence and religious intolerance rather than combining two different religious subjects.