RETURN OF HISTORY TO THE CURRICULUM
The study of history is significant to all
Thirteen years after it was expunged from primary and secondary schools, the federal government last week announced the reintroduction of history as a subject in the basic education curriculum in Nigeria. At the flag-off ceremony of the event, Education Minister, Adamu Adamu rightly said the subject should never have been removed in the first place. “This single act no doubt relegated and eroded the knowledge and information that learners could otherwise have been exposed to,” acknowledged Adamu. “The immediate implication of this was that we lost ideas even of our recent past, and we scarcely saw ourselves as one nation and gradually began retreated into our primordial sentiments.”
While we commend the minister for summoning the courage to reverse the odious decision, it is perhaps apposite to reiterate that millions of Nigerians had been graduated from many of our institutions without the benefit of learning their own history,and the key component of Nigeria’s nationhood. The decision is even more painful because in the past, history was a popular subject among students and offered in both internal and external examinations. But for inconsequential reasons – ranging from lack of interest by students to lack of jobs for graduands, history was yanked off the curriculum and buried in social studies.
Buthistory is important. It is essential for all of us in understanding ourselves and the world around us. History helps provide us with a sense of identity. All people and cultures are living histories. This position is shared by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, who during the ceremony acknowledged that the country is still evolving and striving to achieve nationhood, hence the rich history of the country’s diverse constituents should be explored and exploited to serve as an effective tool for nation-building.
Indeed, there has never been any controversy about the place of history in the development of the individual and society. It is the bedrock of any nation, as it instils patriotism and nationalism in the minds of citizens. Society looks up to history for knowledge of the accumulated wisdom of the people, their mores, and values. It is also the foundation of all subjects, and a vast umbrella. History embraces all disciplines – the arts, literature, religion, the social and natural sciences, mathematics, and technology.
Knowledge is built on examples of past events and as such history does not only help in shaping our attitude, but it also builds our intellectual mind by educating all about the nature of their emergence and the relationships between individuals, communities and others. Nigeria’s foremost statesman and former President of the Senate Nwafor Orizu had long asserted that unless we know what we are and how we come about to be what we are, we shall be unable to know where and how to go further. Perhaps nobody has put the importance of history in better perspective than a British politician, Robin Walker when he stated that “…To be ignorant of the political and cultural history of a people is also to be ignorant of the contributions of that people to all areas of intellectual activity.”
It is therefore heart-warming that some 3,700 teachers have been selected from across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to give meaning to the new resolve to restore history to its proper place. They must be well equipped with the necessary skills to teach the subject satisfactorily and give data about how various aspects of our society worked in the past so we can understand our present condition better. Doing that will also entail revising the curriculum to remove ridiculous claims that are rooted in our colonial experience like how one Mr. Mungo Park discovered River Niger!