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BEHOLD, THE ‘BOOK’ OF CONTENTION

Deconstructing the CRK, IRK apprehension inside the controversial new school curriculum

      

Why Oyo is not making the teaching of Arabic compulsory like Kwara did  –Prof. Olowofela, Education Commissioner

       

Merging CRK, IRK and  Civics is totally unacceptable to us  – CAN President

            

No need to quarrel, document provides room for making amends where necessary  – Prof. Junaidu, Exec. Sec. NERDC

From Fred Ezeh, Abuja, and Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan

The mutual suspicion between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria assumed a new dimension recently  when President of  Christian Association  of Nigeria (CAN) drew attention to what he described as “time bomb” buried in the revised 9-year Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) new national curriculum released by the National Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC).

Frowning at the alleged ‘merging’ of Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK), Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK)  and Civics under a new subject grouping called Religion and National Values,  Ayokunle, who is also the National President of Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC), warned that such merger is capable of setting the country on fire because of the fundamental differences that exist in the tenets of the two major religions.

  He accused President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government of trying to islamize Nigeria through the “backdoor,” via the new curriculum.

The observation attracted nationwide criticisms from church leaders and other Nigerians. Soon it spread like wild fire across Nigeria, generating, in the process, an unprecedented traffic and discussion in both social and mainstream media.

CAN had queried why the NERDC should allow Arabic language which is the language of Islam to be a stand-alone subject while collapsing CRK into what the education authorities tagged Religion and National Values.

Officials and members argued that the move was deliberately orchestrated to impose Arabic language on Christian students particularly those in Muslim-dominated northern states, with the view of gradually converting them to Islam.

The umbrella body of Christians in Nigeria cited example with Kwara and some other Muslim-dominated states in the north which have begun to implement the guidelines released for the 2017 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) which allegedly made Arabic language a compulsory subject for all students irrespective of their faith.  CAN also alleged that provision was not made for CRK students in the ongoing 2017 BECE in Kwara which began on July 1 and will end on 13th July, 2017.

Area of contention

Despite several explanations by the government, CAN and some other Nigerians insist that the revised 9-year BEC document which came into effect in 2012 is a time-bomb that should be defused before it explodes and kills or maims many people.

“All the clauses in that curriculum, which is antagonistic to the tenets of another major religion should never appear in the national curriculum,” Ayokunle said while addressing pastors recently at the South West Regional Conference 2017 organised by the Fuel the Fire Ministers’ Network (Covenant Alliance). “It will not do us any good. This is what we are telling the  government, that curriculum must be repealed….it is an ill-wind that blows no one any good.”

Speaking further in an interview with journalists, he added that, “if we are going to continue this pilgrimage together as a nation, there must be fair play, justice and mutual respect for one another. We therefore demand for justice from the government on this matter very quickly. We are resisting with everything within us the attempt to merge Christianity, Islamic studies, civil education and call it Religion and National Values.”

The man who spoke at length, called for “immediate return” to the former curriculum, arguing that “it was the students that came from a school system where morning devotion were abolished that are behind the insurgency and kidnappings that are currently denying peace in Nigeria now.”

He clarified his position: “Those of us who passed through the former system where we all did devotion in the morning and in the afternoon lived together peacefully irrespective of our religions. So we maintain our position that government must stop the implementation of this new curriculum because it did not come out of a forward-looking researchers but backward ones. A stitch in time saves nine. We also caution the Federal Government against the use of propaganda in addressing this sensitive issue because the unity of the country is at stake. We are not crying wolves where none exists.”

In his response to the heated debate, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, insisted that the allegation of alteration in the BEC to favour certain faith or interest was totally untrue. He said that the unnecessary distraction was the handiwork of some mischief-makers who were bent on fueling religious and ethnic crisis.

“There was no truth in the allegation at all,” he said. “It was just somebody’s imagination, perhaps to raise tension in the country after the Biafra issue and the quit order given by Arewa youths on people from certain parts of the country. So the person just took advantage of situation to fan the embers of religion. Disregard the information because there was no truth whatsoever in it. I repeat, no truth in it.”

Dissatisfied with the Minister’s explanation, Dr. Ayokunle issued a statement insisting that the implementation of the revised BEC document in which IRK and CRK would no longer be studied as separate and distinct subjects on their own but as themes in civic education is “totally unacceptable.” He expressed his belief that it would undermine the sound moral values that the two subjects had hitherto imparted in children and which has helped in enhancing religious and ethnic co-existence in the country.

The making of the new curriculum

To better understand the contending issues involved, our correspondent decided to visit the headquarters of NERDC in Sheda, Abuja.

NERDC, a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Education has the mandate to develop school curricula for all levels of the education system in Nigeria. Federal Government adopted a 9-year UBE programme in 2006 and NERDC was mandated to develop the curriculum that would meet the ideals of the UBE programme.

The major aim of the curriculum is to ensure that learners, having successfully completed the six years of primary education and three years of junior secondary school should have acquired basic numeracy, literacy and life-long skills.

They are also expected to acquire basic skills in science, technology, information technology, rudiment of creative thinking and to develop the foundation for technical, vocational and entrepreneurship culture. In addition, they are expected to imbibe high moral values and positive ethical standards.

The new document also accommodated the fundamentals of both the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (NEEDS) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The implementation began in September 2008 with Primary 1 and JSS 1 classes.

But in the course of it, there were barrage of complaints that the curriculum was overloaded in terms of the number of subjects being taught in schools. There was also the issue of incorporating new changes that are relevant in the 21st century technology-driven world.

To this end, the Federal Government organized a Presidential Summit on education held in October 2010. The summit which had representatives from across Nigeria and other major stakeholders highlighted some observations to the federal government. Directives were given to the Federal Ministry of Education through NERDC to review the entire BEC document, in line with the Presidential Task Team report. They were also asked to take into cognizance international best practices and global competitiveness, without compromising the quality of the school curriculum.

The process of curriculum review, The Sun Education learnt, involved wider consultation with relevant stakeholders particularly curriculum experts, subject matter specialists, teachers, policy makers, employers of labour and parents helping with the preparation of the conceptual framework for the review of the BEC document.

The rigorous but transparent process culminated in the production of the revised 9-year Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) which was collectively endorsed by members of National Council on Education (NCE) which is the highest decision-making body for education sector in Nigeria.

The NCE is made up of education commissioners from the 36 states of Nigeria and the Executive Secretary of FCT Education Secretariat with the Minister of Education as chairman. They were the ones that unanimously reviewed and endorsed the document in 2012 for use in schools.

The then Ministers of Education, Ruqayyatu Rufa’i and Nyesom Wike, and then Executive Secretary of NERDC, Prof. Godswill Obioma also endorsed the use of the curricula beginning from September 2012.

Inside the new curriculum

The revised BEC document for Religion and National Values for primaries 1-3, 4-6 and JSS 1-3 which became issue of disagreement were, alongside the Teacher’s Guides, exclusively obtained by The Sun Education.

The teachers’ guide for the various subjects of the revised curriculum was a document developed by NERDC to assist and guide the teachers on how best to prepare their scheme of work and to also deliver same effectively to their students.

It also addresses subject specific issues that are pertinent to quality education delivery such as syllables development, lesson plans, teaching of difficult concepts, resources for teaching, classroom management and assessment of learning, amongst others.

A careful study of the curriculum document reveals that the subjects hitherto contained in the old BEC curriculum were carefully realigned and regrouped according to their similarities.

The NERDC Executive Secretary, Prof. Ismail Junaidu, who spoke to our correspondent in Abuja explained that the idea was to achieve a reduction in subject overloads on students with regard to the number of subjects being taught in primary and junior secondary schools.

Like Adamu did, he described as untrue the allegations made by CAN that the outcome of the review process was deliberately orchestrated to fulfill a so-called secret plot to islamize Nigeria through the “backdoor”.

While summarizing the adjustments made in the curriculum, Prof. Junaidu explained that related UBE subjects curricula like home economics, agriculture were merged to create a UBE umbrella subject called pre-vocational studies. Civic education which focuses on the inculcation of values (societal, moral, interpersonal) was collapsed to form Religion and National Values.

Primary 1-3 students are expected to take six compulsory subjects and one optional subject. The compulsory subjects are: English Language, one Nigerian language, Mathematics, Basic Science and Technology (which comprises Basic Science, Technology, Information Technology, and Physical and Health Education) Religion and National Values (which comprises CRK, IRK, Social Studies, Civics and Security Education), Cultural and Creative Art and Arabic (which is optional, contrary to CAN’s allegation and the rumour making the rounds).

The list of subjects are for Primary 4-6 classes but with the addition of pre-vocational studies (which comprises home economics and agriculture). French language and Arabic are also added but the curriculum documents highlighted that the Arabic language must be OPTIONAL for students.

Prof. Junaidu clarified that subjects like IRK, CRK, home economics that are placed under pre-vocational, religion and national values are still taught distinctly within their alloted periods, contrary to claims that they have been collapsed into one. But the essence of the adjustment is to reduce the burden on students.

“Come to think of it, how possible could it be to islamise the country using the documents,” Junaidu rhetorically asked. “Remember that the document was reviewed and unanimously endorsed by Commissioners of Education across Nigeria. And you don’t expect an Education Commissioner from Imo, Anambra, Enugu or such other states with his or her right senses to endorse such document, neither do you expect the then Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike and then President, Goodluck Jonathan, to endorse the document knowing fully well the implications. Nigeria is a secular and not an islamic state.”

Oyo State was part of the National Council on Education (NCE), that, in 2012, ratified the new curriculum, Prof. Adeniyi Olowofela, the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, told our correspondent.

“Before the new curriculum, students in secondary school used to offer up to 14 subjects, whereas a student would only be allowed to register eight or nine subjects for the senior secondary school certification exams,” he said. “Now under the new curriculum, a student can only offer nine subjects and a maximum of 10. Under the Religion and National Values, CRK and IRK are taught separately, and each student will choose one of the two. Arabic is not a compulsory subject in the new curriculum. It is optional. It is grouped under language studies, the way we have French Language. Since Arabic and French were not made compulsory, none of the subjects hitherto taught in schools was removed from the curriculum. So Oyo State has been implementing what is in the curriculum.”

The NERDC Executive Secretary, Prof. Junaidu, added that while states have the exclusive right to introduce whatever subject they deem important, the BEC document is a dynamic and open document meant to undergo periodic review in accordance with changing needs, challenges and aspirations of the society.

consider relevant for the good and development of its people. But they must first teach the content of the NPE approved BEC curriculum.

“Arabic is the language of Islam,” he explained. “The Islamic Holy Books were written in Arabic. Teaching is mostly done in Arabic. So, whoever that must study and understand Islam must be conversant with Arabic. That was the reason Arabic was made optional, not compulsory, in the education curriculum. That might also be the reason some states chose to introduce it in their schools.

“There are lot of misinformation, sentiments, misinterpretation and suspicion out there. Mischief-makers have also hatched onto the situation to continue to deceive people and to raise unnecessary tension. But that shouldn’t be the case because the curriculum was well researched and endorsed by NPE.”

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5 Comments

  1. Emmanuel Chukwuma Umeh 11th July 2017 at 9:17 am

    The main problem, among others, of the current Federal Government in NIGERIA, especially the Executive arm, is unnecessary propaganda and politicizing of the sensitive issues, even by blackmailing the well-meaning Nigerians populace, the same way the Fulani’s herdsmen control their cows!

    Nigerians are not cows, and Federal Executive Government should stop treating Nigerians as animals under no circumstances!

    Marginalization, witch-hunting, militerization and brutality strategies, among others, they have been applying in handling socio-political problems NIGERIA, especially since 2015 till date, is a clear evidence that they are handling Nigerians like the Fulanis cows. It must stop! Nigerians are not animals or Fulanis cows, as the Federal Executive Government had seemed to be handling NIGERIA and Nigerians over socio-political sensitive issues!

    On the matter at hand, there is no gain say about it!

    Northern political cabals, who use their Religion for their selfish and self-centeredness advantages, are subtly out to marginalize others of/from the other Religions, especially Christianity, with serious attempt of Islamization of the country NIGERIA at all cost! Global communities are very aware of this hidden agenda, which the Northern political cabals want to use Buhari’s administration to achieve at all cost.

    They started the political move, more openly, in year 2000, when they felt unease with Obasanjo’s adninistration, especially when they felt he might not return the Presidential power back to the North, they started clamoring for Sharia law enforcement in Northern NIGERIA States, just to checkmate Obasanjo’s adninistration!

    Obasanjo, been a highly politically intelligent man with Military experience, said that their clamoring for Sharia law enforcement accross the Northern NIGERIA was Politically motivated, and that it would die natural death!

    When he later reassured the Northern political cabals that he would return power to North as they initially agreed, they calmed down!

    When Musa Yarad’ua, the Northerner, took over the Presidency in 2008, they felt unease again, especially with his health condition, the same Northern political cabals, then staged their political and religious terrorists, called “Boko-Haran”, more openly in 2009, to terrorize Nigerians, just for their own selfishness, which was extended during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan. He unfortunately played into their selfish hands, thinking that that would make them to love him and support him politically, but opposite was the case, as he later experienced!

    Let it be on global records that Christianity must, under no circumstances and conditions, be Marginalized in NIGERIA, as those political wolves in sheep’s clothing are seriously making the subtle move, especially through all the means available, including the Educational Research Curriculum, if they truly love the unity of “ONE NIGERIA” as they often claimed that they love the NIGERIA unity in diversity and peaceful coexistence of all NIGERIANS of diversified tribes, cultures and religions!

  2. Onyewuchi Nze 11th July 2017 at 9:43 am

    The reality is that Islam abhors plurality. As Nigerians elected a salafists as their president, and the Fulani have been controlling the nation, since independence whether in or out of power. let us call this country, FULANISTAN.

  3. Emmanuel Chukwuma Umeh 11th July 2017 at 10:38 am

    Prof. Juaidu is obviously playing on words, thinking he is talking to the suckling babies accross the globe!

    If you stated in the curriculum in question that “Arabic language” must be optional for Students, as you claimed, how come you also said that States have exclusive rights to adopt the subjects they want in their Educational Curriculum, what does it imply to the global sensible and reasonable minds? That is clearly, a subtle attempt to begin the Islamization hidden agenda from the nintheen (19) Northern States, as Kwara State is said to have made the move very recently, to make it compulsory subject for all students!

    You also said, Prof. Juaidu, that the essence of the Educational Research Curriculum adjustment, especially CRK and IRK as themes under the main current Religion and National Values as the real subject, is to reduce burden on Students, and at same time, you still claimed they are taught differently, what burden have you reducd on the Students, if you are honest, without any political and religious hidden agenda?

    That subtle statement, is a pure political lie from the pit of hell.

    You can not even convince the birds of air, with those politically motivated statement!

    NIGERIANS are not fools as many of you that are holding the political posts in NIGERIA often think!

  4. mazi offor joseph okereke 11th July 2017 at 10:57 am

    i wonder why it took the education ministry so long to come out with this explanation. because the government took nigerians for animals that’s why all these rumors are milling around. the government must be accountable to the people. these demands that there should be information from the government to douse rumor mongering.take for example, the president illhealth. it was lack of proper information management that led to people saying all kinds of thing about him ranging from incapacitation to death. when i see how things were done since 1999 to date, i begin to ask myself if this democracy is different from the democracy of 1979 under shagari. upon on the insults heaped on shagari government, nobody can compare that period with this wicked era. immediately shagari assumed office, he started with a visit to all the states of the country on familiarization visit. but this days, nothing like that. they only go to commission projects for ego trips. if a leader does not visit his people, how does he know their problems? the leadership from 1999-present are very arrogant, highhinded, nepotic, information hoarders, trouble shooters, yet, they expect nigerians to be patriotic while they don’t live by example. and to forstall this in future,nigerians should do away with any candidate for election that has military background because, from obasanjo regime and presently, buhari regime, the heat on nigerians is overbearing compared with shagari, jonathan who are purely civilians.

  5. Nursejoe 16th July 2017 at 7:23 pm

    Unless Christians and other non-muslims religionists forge a common front and use the now opportunity to fight for their rights the muslims are bent on islamising Nigeria and they could succeed if they’re not resisted to a stand still with all the necessary wherewithal.

    President Buhari, an extremist, first ‘northernised’ his administration as consolidation for continuing the islamisation process. This explains why any public office of strategic importance was and is occupied by a Muslim even if in violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is an offence for which he could be impeached but he cared less. For about six solid months he was confused on how to constitute his cabinet but did promptly what he knew best to lay traps for northernisation and islamisation as other operations of lesser priority could wait and they did wait!

    In the first instance, why should there be Arabic in the curriculum without an egalitarian provision for Hebrew, Greek, and Latin languages for Christians to enable them better grasp the tenets of their faith? Moreover these languages are no lingua franca to us unlike English and, later, French but gradually. Why should Arabic be singled out for preferential treatment?

    The two journalists, I hope they’re not brown envelope journalists, who wrote this article are the least qualified for a subject matter of a more critical analysis that requires more than listening to Prof. Junaidu and nodding their heads like a sun bitten lizard in affirmation to whatever he told them. lslamisation is a gradual process which the Muslims have already embarked upon but requires being stopped in their track now willy – nilly.

    I’m yet to see the attraction of this religion they are bent to foist on others where worldwide it is the source of agony, hatred and division, violence and war of attrition and utter hatred, death, child abuse or forced marriage, insurgency, forcing non-adherents to marriage but prohibiting reciprocal gesture with certain death, means of conversion is subtle allure or with in – built death sentence as a repercussion for refusal. Check anywhere Islam is predominantly practiced it is violence, coercion, or dictatorship by their national leaders and denial of rights and freedom to so many people in their enclave.

    Hence unless Christians through powerful and informed approach stand up now and checkmate Buhari and his islamist agenda in the future Nigeria will be Islamised. We should historically also remember that the present day Turkey and Egypt centuries ago were wholly Christian countries but are now mere 4% and 10% respectively of Christian population. What they are doing in the area of education they’re are also doing the same in other spheres of governance just to dominate and control everything Nigeria whether deserving it or not. Unfortunately, however, this attitude of imposition and undue desire to dominate the show is responsible for our dwarfed development and growth since our amalgamation in 1914 and largely the mother of the current agitation for restructuring and secession. Let’s partner with God to frustrate the islamists in Nigeria.

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