Stakeholders in the education sector have condemned the removal of History as a subject from primary and secondary school curriculum.
The stakeholders, who spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) nationwide, said the act was wrong.
NAN recalls that the Federal Government in 2007 launched a new curriculum known as the New Basic Education Curriculum for primary and junior secondary schools.
The existing curriculum seeks to correct the abnormalities of the former one, which was believed to be lacking in the areas of human capacity development; eradication of poverty; and the country’s quest for total emancipation as an independent entity.
Under the new system, the structure is divided into three levels of lower, middle and upper basic education curriculum.
The lower level is for primary one to three, the middle level is for primary four to six, while the upper level is for J.S.S one to three.
In each of the three levels, there are about 12 compulsory core subjects with one elective subject.
English studies, Mathematics, Social Studies, Health and Physical Education, Religious Studies as well as French are among the compulsory subjects.
The new curriculum was effective from the 2009/2010 academic session. The continual relegation of the teaching of History to the background has attracted condemnation from stakeholders.
Mr Paul Elaigwu, a History teacher with one of the government secondary schools, says the removal of History from the curriculums is an error as the subject is about studying events of the past, which “helps to build our today and prepare us for tomorrow“.
According to him, History as a subject, teaches one the lessons of life, just as it makes one learn from past mistakes and gives a person the opportunity to improve.
He says it is a mistake to replace History with Social Studies and Government.
“Social Studies and Government are not in-depth and cannot replace History as they teach things of the present.
“If you do not know the history of your family, you won’t know what happened and how to guard against the repeat of past mistakes.
“It is not proper to replace History with Social Studies and Government because without History, the country cannot be developed further by the younger generation.’’
In the same vein, David Ella, a Senior Secondary School Student, says: “Without History, we will not know our past.’’
Ella defined History as the study of past events and a process of evolution into the present.
“The elimination of History as a core subject from the new curriculum is a wrong idea because the subject enables students to know what happened before they were born and where they are presently.
“It helps them to make reference to the past in assessing the present situation.’’
According to him, without history Nigerians will not know their past leaders and the impact they have made on the development of the country.
He cited Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, and Tafawa Balewa, among others, who left behind good legacies, which formed part of Nigeria’s history.
According to him, their stories serve as motivation to the present generation.
“I believe History is very essential to the youths and upcoming generation.
“History is irreplaceable. Social Studies and Government are only branches or topics under history.’’
On her part, Mrs Chioma Osuji, the Policy Advisor, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA), advised the Federal Government and all relevant stakeholders to re-introduce the subject.
She said the importance of History to nation-building cannot be over-emphasised because without history, there will be no future and citizens will be in the dark.
NAN recalls that the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), during the recent celebration of the 2015 World Teachers Day, also called for the reinstatement of the subject in the curriculum.
The NUT urged the Federal Government to review the curriculum as another core subject like Biology has also been removed.
In the same vein, Prof. Godswill Obioma, the former Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), also called for a review of the education curriculum to accommodate more of Nigerian History.
Obioma said that the content of History thought in Nigerian schools at the moment was deficient.
He said that History had not been removed from Nigerian school curriculum but was made optional while Social Studies captured History at primary and junior secondary school levels.
According to him, the curriculum should be reviewed to capture the aspects of History that matter to Nigerians at the primary, junior and senior secondary school levels.
“In the senior secondary school, History is still there; but is optional. Students choose whether to do History or not; where people do not really understand the situation is at the junior secondary level.
“When the curriculum was reviewed and changed to 6-3-3-4, there were integrations—Physics, Chemistry, and Biology were called Integrated Science.
“At the primary and junior secondary school levels, Social Studies which comprises, Geography, Civics/Government, History – generally man and his environment.
“But in teaching, Social Studies and History, there is need to bring historical elements that are relevant to Nigeria.’’
According to Obioma, many students do not know anything about the Nigerian Civil War – what caused it and how it ended.
He said that capturing events such as the Civil War could promote national integration, as it will make students to know what caused the Civil War, how it ended, and learn some lessons from it.
According to him, the learning of History should not be limited to stories about Mungo Park’s escapades on the River Niger, or about Seven Rivers of Africa and other things that are of no value to the nation.
“What about Nigerian History — Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo to the modern times.
“History prepares a people to know their past: where they are and where they want to be,“ Obioma said.
He said that if Social Studies and History were taught properly at the primary and junior secondary school levels, students would be informed about their country.
Chief Charles Nwodo, the former Chairman of the defunct Progressive Action Congress (PAC), also spoke in favour of the re-introduction of History in the nation’s education curriculum
“It is unfortunate that a nation has removed the subject that teaches the students about their background, where they are coming from and where they are going.
“So, we want the appropriate authorities to reintroduce such a sensitive subject in the nation’s educational curriculum.’’
He says History has the capacity to educate the people on the nature of their emergence and the relationship between one community and another in the past.
“It will help us to know about the types of people we had in the past, the life they lived, how they ruled us and their struggle in the promotion of the unity of this country.
“So, if you remove such an important and all encompassing subject, it blind folds people from knowing anything about their country.“
Nwodo said that history should not only be reintroduced but made a core subject in the nation’s educational curriculum, especially for those in the arts class and perhaps social sciences.
He further advised that the subject should also be made compulsory in the primary schools across the country.
Asked if Social Studies could replace the study of History, Nwodo said that Social Studies were just about current issues, and not mostly about the history of events that took place.
“Social studies are more of current affairs which lacked enough ingredients to be compared to history.
“History is all encompassing, history is not all about Nigeria alone but it involves the history of other countries as well.“
Dr Muritala Olalekan, a lecturer in the Department of History, University of Ibadan, is of the view that history should remain a core subject in the school curriculum because of its importance to national development.
He says there cannot be development without history.
“You cannot do without referring to past events at every stage of a given country’s development. That’s why most of? the developed nations cannot not do without their history.
“History dwells on the economic, political, and social aspects of a nation’s development,’’ he said.
A parent, Mrs Titilayo Taiwo, is of the opinion that History is vital and critical subject as it helps people to deal with the present situation and encourages them to contribute meaningfully to the future of the country.
Taiwo also says History as a subject helps to explain issues and increase the level of understanding and intelligence among students.
“Historians are good administrators because history helps them to develop morality,“she said.
A teacher at Basorun Ogunmola High School, Mr Wale Ogunsola, believes that though History has been removed from the school curriculum, some schools still offer it at the senior secondary school level.
A student at Oluyole High School, Damilola Adesanya, opines that History has always been a tough subject for her.
“History is hard because of the long stories and many dates involved; it’s confusing sometimes,” she said.
She says she will always choose Social Studies or Civic Education over History ?because they are easier to follow.
Kayode Durojaye, who is seeking admission into a tertiary institution, describes History as a boring subject.
“The reason I dropped History in my SSCE is because I was scared I? might not pass it because of the many dates in it and you know dates are vital,’’ he said.?
In Akure, stakeholders also advocated that History should be made a core subject in the nation’s school curriculum.
Chief Bola Omoloja, Chairman, Parents and Teachers’ Association, Ondo Chapter, says History should be a core subject just as English and Mathematics are.
According to him, History is important because it is a record of the past, which represents a window into the future.
“It’s my belief that History, which relates to what happened in the past, is important to the children of today because the events happened before they were born.
“It is like having a mirror to reveal past events, which could be examined and studied.“
Mr Akin Asaniyan, the Secretary, Ondo State Quality Assurance Education Agency, however, believed that the strictness of History teachers led to its eventual removal from the curriculum.
“At a time, History as a subject was held in very high esteem to the extent that students were made to believe that the subject was an exclusive preserve of only the very brilliant.
“This actually accounts for its status today. The dates embedded in History, which a student is expected to cram has made the subject a difficult one to do. So, many students have decided to run away from it.
“As a course of study, History was seen as even more glamorous than Law and I am not surprised by its current status.“
He, however, says the subject has ingredients that are capable of promoting national development.
Another teacher at Omoluorogbo Grammar School, Akure, Mr Deji Gbeje, has decried the removal of History from the school curriculum, saying there is no way Social Studies, Government and Literature can replace History in secondary schools.
“This is sad because I see the study of History as very important in creating knowledgeable citizens.
“Today, very few universities still have a dedicated Department of History, having merged History with International Studies or Diplomatic Studies.”
He, therefore, advised the Federal Government to reinstate the subject in the school curriculum and make it more attractive to young undergraduates.
Meanwhile in Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Yobe and Jigawa states, a cross-section of parents, teachers, and students, has called for the introduction of History as a core subject in primary and junior secondary schools in the country.
They said, in separate interviews with NAN, that History should not only be introduced, but also be made compulsory.
They said the leaders of tomorrow and generations yet unborn, must know the past to enable them manage the present and plan for the future.
Alhaji Bulama Abiso, Borno Chairman of Nigeria Union of Teachers, said that History subject was very important as it would enable students know the past and present of their country’s existence.
“If the country is serious about genuine development at all levels, our schools seriously need to re-introduce the Nigerian History into the curriculums.
“If we must discover sustainable ideas and solutions to national issues, we must engage more with the past and imbibe that knowledge of our norms and values in schools.
“History is consciously used to inspire nation-building in many developed nations, and this places a huge gap between the advanced nations and under-developed ones.
“It is difficult to understand how as a nation, we think we can come close to sustainable change without the knowledge of its History, forgetting that time past is part of time present, and time present is part of time future.
“Studying Nigerian history in schools as a compulsory and fundamental academic requirement and discipline is very vital for the country’s development at this crucial point.’’
Dr Babagana Kachalla, a research expert in the Centre for Trans-Saharan Studies at the University of Maiduguri, said to build a sustainable society, ‘’we must promote our cultures, values and History in schools, for the forthcoming generation to inherit.
“The history reminds us of our ways of life, norms and values, but had almost given away because the subject is not given priority attention in schools,” he noted.
The Jigawa Commissioner for Women Affairs, Hajiya Rabi Ishaq, concurred, saying that the teaching of History in primary and junior secondary schools in the country would impact positively on national development.
The commissioner explained that the subject would make pupils and students know and appreciate what happened in the past, develop the present and plan for the future.
In Yobe, most parents and students in post primary schools, however, said they would prefer History subject being embedded into Social Studies as against standing as a core subject of study in schools.
In Bauchi, a cross-section of those who spoke with NAN, observed that some of the social and economic problems the country was facing today, could be traced to shallow knowledge of the past, hence the need to make History subject compulsory in schools.
A graduate of history and postgraduate student of the subject, Malam Dahiru Garba, said that the subject was very important in shaping the development of a people.
He said people had to remember the past to make amends for mistakes, with a view to ensuring future development.
According to him, History is a vast discipline that can be found in virtually all other academic disciplines, and therefore important and relevant for national development.
Garba further said that because of the relevance of the subject, the Historical Society of Nigeria had, during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, sought for its teaching right from primary school.
He said that the former president had approved the request but it was not implemented until he left office.
However, Malam Dauda Sani, Chief Information Officer, Bauchi State Ministry of Education, said that although History was an important subject, it should not be taught in primary or junior secondary schools.
He said Social Studies, as a subject, was a rudimentary form of History and was meant to prepare pupils and students to study history in senior secondary schools and other tertiary institutions of learning.
In Gombe, the Parents/Teacher Association in the state expressed support for the re-introduction of the teaching of History in primary and junior secondary schools in the country.
Its Chairman, Alhaji Mohammed Usman, said that teaching the subject was key to ensuring national development by way of instilling patriotism in youth.
Dr Isaac Edigba of the History Department, Gombe State University (GSU), defined History as the study of various events that took place in the past in the realm of human world.
He said the importance of History to the national development could not be overemphasized, citing an example with the United States, where History was compulsory to all children
Meanwhile, teachers in Adamawa have lauded the state government for introducing the teaching of History as a core subject in primary and secondary school curriculum.
They insisted that History should be made compulsory for all students in view of its relevance to nation-building.
However, some educationists in Edo and Bayelsa states have expressed different opinions on plans for re-introduction of History in the Nigeria school curriculum.
According to them, re-introduction of History as a subject in the Nigerian school’s system portends what they called the good and the bad for the educational system.
Some of them agreed that the teaching of History was still relevant due to its capacity to impact on national development.
Mr Henson Oduware, a school proprietor in Benin, however, argued that although the teaching of History was relevant, its planned reintroduction would no doubt affect the Nigeria school curriculum with the frequent changes that it has experienced.
Oduware attributed the poor showing of Nigerian students in national examinations to the frequent changes in school curriculum.
He said that the call for the re-introduction History as a subject should be made in ways that would not make its studies compulsory to students.
Oduware said that pupils at the primary school level should be exempted from the subject.
He said the exemption should be for the simple reason that other subjects such as Social Studies and Civic Education have effectively taken care of that.
“Nigeria educational policy has not been consistent over the years and this has been responsible for the poor performance of students in major examinations.
“There is no consistency in the implementation of the curriculum. It is always one changes or the other. Today you make one subject compulsory only to get it reversed later.
“In time past, in the Senior Secondary School, Mathematics , English, Biology and Economic and even Agricultural science used to be core subjects but now you have mathematic, English, Civic education and one entrepreneurial subject.
“With these continuous changes, you found out that at the end of the day, the children are not in a way conversant with the subjects they offer these days.
“These are the subjects that are supposed to be offered down from Senior Secondary School One (SSS1) to SSS3.
“How do you make a particular subject compulsory to students in SSS when they never offered the same subject right from Junior Secondary School One (JSS1)?”
Similarly, Michael Ekhesomi, Education Secretary, Etsako West LocaL Government Area of Edo, said teaching of History should be reintroduced and made compulsory for students because of its relevance.
According to him, Social Studies as a subject cannot replace the teaching of History in Nigeria school curriculum.
“If we know and understand the work of our past heroes, it helps to mould our character and also propelled us to emulate them.
“Yes, it should be a core subject for our young ones and no, social studies can never serve as a replacement for the teaching of history.’’
In Bayelsa, stakeholders have stressed the need to standardise the curriculum of Primary and Secondary schools as a bed-rock to nation building.
According to them, the subject will not only educate the students on past events but enlighten them on men and inventors that they could emulate in the course of their transition.
Mrs Margret Timipa, Headmaster, Township Primary Schools, Ovom, Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa, said that History was good in building children’s level of intelligence.
“Yes, History is a good subject, it will help the pupil to know about states, countries and prominent persons around the world.
“By learning this, students may like to choose a particular lifestyle of any of these inventors; just like when you talk about Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo and the host of them.
“In fact, we must go back to the drawing board in ensuring that we achieve high standards in these levels of education.”
An administrator at St Jude’s Junior Girls Secondary, Yenagoa Local Government Area, who prefers anonymity, expresses support to the call for the re-introduction of the subject.
“The subject will go a long in keeping tracks of our national Heroes in the mind of our children; it will also make the students to know cities in the country and world at large,” the administrator said.
In Kano and Kaduna states, some teachers and parents have backed the call for the re-introduction of the teaching of History in primary and secondary schools in the country, saying that it will promote patriotism and critical thinking among students.
In separate interviews with NAN, they advised the government to also make History a core subject, to equip students with knowledge of the past, to enable them to have a broader understanding of Nigeria.
Dr Gaius Jatau, Head of History Department, Kaduna State University, said that the knowledge of history remained an essential instrument in nation building.
According to him, history promotes national consciousness, patriotism and the flowering of moral leadership which ensures overall national development.
He described the replacement of the teaching of History with Social Studies at the primary school and Government at the secondary school levels as “a pathetic decision.”
“This explains why the country remains a crawling giant with ethno-religious chauvinism as the major driving force of Nigeria’s polity.
“The lack of historical consciousness is a major reason why so much violence, aggression, hatred, poverty dominates day to day existence of Nigerians, because we tend to act or react based on the present situation and care little about the past.
“It is therefore not surprising that only few care about the kind of society we came from, which society we belong and the kind of society we hope to build in the future.”
Jatau described history as not merely the study of the past, but an essential knowledge which gave in-depth understanding of present happenings for a better focus of the future.
“If that is the case, then history has to be taught from the basic up to secondary school, to equip Nigerian children with the knowledge of their history, to enable them make better choices and decisions.
“During our time, we have the privilege of studying history from the primary school up to senior secondary school level.
“At the primary school level, we were taught the history of Mungo Park, Clapperton and the rest of them and in the senior secondary school we were taught the history of the rise and fall of old empires.
“This knowledge had helped in shaping our attitude toward our dear country Nigeria and built our intellectual mind, thereby, giving us a better understanding of our society.”
Also, Mr Abdulallaziz Isa of Kaduna State Ministry for Education, said the re-introduction of History as a core subject in the syllabus of primary and secondary schools would promote patriotism, develop critical thinking and allow students to make informed choices.
“When you study history, you will see things differently; you will understand why and how societies developed or stagnate, how leaders and people fail and how to take positive step for a meaningful future,” Isa said.
Alhaji Abdulkadir Abdulkadir, the Principal of Addy Basic School, Rimin Gata in Kano State, also said that the study of History should be made compulsory.
“It will enable students to study past developments so as to proffer solution to present and future problems,” he said.
He said that teaching the subject would equip students with the knowledge of past political developments of the country, so that when they grow up, they would “avoid mistakes of their past leaders.
“The relevance of teaching History cannot be over emphasised as it inculcates in the students the spirit of nationalism and patriotism, widens their scope and inculcates in them national consciousness and unity of purpose.
“History as a subject enables students to appreciate the labour of the past heroes and understand the level of development in their country.
“So History should be a core subject, not optional, because of its importance to nation building.
“Social Studies cannot replace history because social studies deals with the environmental attributes of man, while history as a subject can give better perspective of the past for the understanding of the present and forecast on the future.’’
Also commenting on the issue, a parent, Alhaji Bashir Mohammed, described history as the foundation of every known civilisation all over the world.
“Without history, one will not be in a position to know the present, the past and the future; it broadens students’ scope of understanding and knowing things accordingly.
“One cannot be able adjust or readjust in what he or she does without taking into consideration the lessons of history.’’
He also supported making History a core subject in primary and secondary schools “and every student must be made to offer it in view of the benefits.
“The scope of social studies is limited compared to the frontiers of the knowledge of history,’’ Mohammed added.
In Lagos, a former Minister of Education, Prof. Chinwe Obaji, said the re-introduction of history as a subject in secondary schools would enhance the building of a better country.
Obaji said that the teaching of the subject was crucial in the current curriculum of secondary schools across the country.
According to her, history, as a subject, will assist in shaping the thoughts of today’s generation, concerning the country and its heroes’ past and present.
She said that a lot of children and some other Nigerians today had little or no knowledge concerning the country’s past, noting that such scenario was saddening.
“I want to say that any country without history can never think of the future, because in every sense, it determines where we go.
“We must be in firm grasp of our history, if we must determine where we are going to collectively, as a people and as individuals.
“So many people in our country today know next to nothing about those who fought for the independence of this country called Nigeria.
“A lot of people do not know some of our heroes past like Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Tafawa Balewa and Obafemi Awolowo, among others.“
Dr Oluwatoki Jamiu, Head of Department, History and International Studies, Lagos State University (LASU), said that history was man’s struggle to understand his environment.
According to him, history is the sum total of action, reactions and sometimes, the inaction of man’s consequences.
He said that history was not just relevant but germane to national development, because the problem presently facing the society? was because history had been neglected.
Jamiu said that when a man or nation did not recognise and learn from the past, which is history, there was no way such person or nation could improve on its present condition.
The lecturer said it was important to teach history at every level of education, so that the younger generation could know their source, and tow the part for a brighter future.
“History should be taught at the basic and secondary levels, even to science students, because science started from the Art.
“When a man recognises the origin of civilisation, he will be determined to improve upon it.’’
Similarly, stakeholders in the South East have called on the relevant authorities to return history to the curriculum of primary and secondary schools as a matter of urgency.
They said that a nation that did not know its history could not plan for its future.