The Federal Government’s recent decision to reintroduce history as an independent subject into the basic and junior secondary schools in the country is commendable. According to the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who spoke on the development at the launch of History Curriculum and Teacher’s Guide in Abuja, the reintroduction of history in the curriculum would allow students know the history of the country.
The minister further explained that the new history curriculum was designed to expose students to a body of knowledge that would enable them appreciate history as an instrument of national integration and nation building in the 21st Century and beyond. It is also believed that the new curriculum would equip the younger generations of Nigerians with the knowledge of the past and how the past relates to the present.
Before now, history was subsumed under the Social Studies curriculum. But objections by most stakeholders in the education sector, according to Professor Ismail Junaidu, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), necessitated the reintroduction of history as a distinct subject.
We commend the Federal Government for listening to the concerns expressed by many Nigerians and its wise decision to bring history back to schools. No doubt, the teaching of history in our schools will go a long way in fostering nation building, national identity, patriotism and overall human development in the country. The importance of history cannot be over-emphasised.
History provides the students with the knowledge of the past, and its influences on the present and the future. Now that the error of removing history from the schools’ curriculum has been corrected, the emphasis should be on the teaching of Nigerian history, including our origin, cultures, our commonalities as well as differences.
Our students should be taught about the Nok culture, the Igbo Ukwu, Benin and Ife arts among others. These cultural landmarks are associated with the history and archeology of our land. They should also be taught about the history of the various people that make up Nigeria before, during and after colonialism. There is the need to teach them about slavery, colonialism, the nationalist struggles and attainment of independence. They should be taught the history of the Nigerian Civil War and other wars fought among the various ethnic nationalities that make up the country. Also, we cannot be truly united when Nigerian history is not taught in our schools.
In fact, some of the crises of nationhood plaguing Nigeria today can be traced to lack of knowledge of Nigerian history. It is very sad that most Nigerians today think more about their ethnic nationalities and less of the country. We call on the curriculum designers to make the teaching of history appealing and attractive to the students through the use of modern teaching aids.
For us to build a strong and virile nation, the emphasis should be on inculcating in our students the virtues of nationalism, unity and patriotism. They should love and think of Nigeria first before any other consideration. History can be used as a veritable tool to achieve these lofty goals.
In bringing history back to the schools, we should remember the efforts of our historians, including Professors Kenneth Dike, J.F. Ade-Ajayi, Adiele Afigbo and others, in establishing the authenticity of African History as a subject of study in the face of overt Eurocentric biases.
We recall that the most vicious of such Eurocentric views of African history came from the erudite British historian and Regius Professor at Oxford, Hugh Trevor-Roper, who maintained that African history did not exist.
By the government’s gesture, we are reinforcing the fact that the labour of our heroes shall never be in vain. For this effort to succeed, government should train more history teachers.