Headline News Special Report

History-A compulsory subject in primary and junior secondary schools

Thursday, the 24th of November will remain memorable in the minds of Nigerians especially those who clamored relentlessly for the reintroduction of History as a subject in the school curriculum. The official announcement by the federal government on the reintroduction of History as a compulsory subject in primary and junior secondary schools on this date marks a watershed in the Nigerians match to civilization. The conspiracy to edge out this basic and fundamental discipline in schools began when some viewed the subject as irrelevant to the realities of the moment. While others saw the discipline as an unscientific subject that could not bring food to the table. Others who attempted to garnish the subject in a palatable manner, complained that the discipline was too complex and was so difficult to understand especially when preparing for examination purposes thereby justifying their reasons for abysmal performance of students in organize examinations like WAEC, GCE, or –E. These conspiracy theories were hatched deliberately to change the hand of the clock. Whatever reasons that may have been adduced for this dishonorable act, remains to be seen in the days ahead. Now that the presidential directive on the reintroduction of History at the foundation level in primary and junior secondary schools in Nigerian is complied with, beginning with the training of about three hundred and seventy teachers in history nationwide at the basic level, care must be taken adequately, to avoid pit fails.  Though, some teachers have been assembled across the nation for an intensive training in History to facilitate teaching and learning, this approach brings to mind the usual Nigerian fire brigade approach to national issues of relevance.  This hasty arrangement might result to monumental failures since not well-trained History teachers with Bachelor degrees in History will be assembled for this all-important exercise. This is so because the conspiracy of neglect and abandonment in the study of History overtime has led to the scarcity and near absence of trained teachers in the subject and one wonders where such experienced and well-trained personnel will be found.  Most times, people misconstrue the subject of History as being a mere story- telling discipline of the past. The case is however different. This subject which is a scientific art, deals with the knowledge of man, his thought and actions as well as characteristics of animals, plants and his immediate environment, especially, such knowledge is arranged in an orderly manner for observation and testing of such identifiable, and interpretable raw facts for the purpose of transmitting to basic facts using the sources of archaeology, oral tradition and written records to construct and project the future.  History therefore, is a continuous dialogue between man and his environment which deals also with his evolution, existence and the things that affects him daily. History as a discipline becomes relevant as an enabling tool for assessment, revenue mobilization, resources management, governance, mediation, adjudication for posterity, inter group relationship, conflict management and nation building. The strategic mistake made by the re-designers of the system of education, further placed the nation in a state of social quagmire engulfed in the wind of globalization and annihilation of social norms. This situation led to the lost of values and belief systems that kept us together, which is why foreign cultures now dictate our very essence as a people.  The reintroduction of the discipline in school calendar especially at the basic level of education is therefore patriotic and germane in the process of nation building and the only imperative to the unity of the nation. It is instructive to note that, this policy drive of government on the reintroduction of the discipline at this level is to avail the students or the Nigeria Child with the knowledge of historical facts about the people and their Nation.  Against this background, concrete efforts should be taken to address the inadequate number of History teachers at all levels of our educational system. Government should ensure that people with a bias in History subject are massively recruited and retained to fill the existing gaps of man power in institutions of learning rather than allowing such persons to dabble into non profitable ventures.  Also, the discipline of History should also be made a mandatory subject in all the technical and non-technical schools for the purposes of integrating the subject in daily routine.

The private sector should also be allowed to contribute substantially by investing heavily in this sector to drive the policy to its logical conclusion by establishing merit awards to deserving students of History, release of intervention funds to schools with set targets in the promotion of History subjects and award of scholarship grants to students and teachers of History. To ensure adequate learning process government should provide teaching aid materials and text books to these schools for teaching and learning.

The use of primary and secondary sources to teach students should be encouraged more at the basic level rather than the aggressive use of ICT (Information, and communication technology) for enhanced learning. Parent Teachers Associations at this level should also ensure adequate supervision of the topics taught to their children or wards to breach the gap of teacher- student ratio in the class rooms to facilitate smooth and coordinated approach to teaching of the subject to sustain this policy directive of government. A strategic partnership between relevant agencies and the Nigerian Historical Society should be cultivated for robust engagement toward achieving these lofty goals of emancipating ourselves from the shackles of degradation.  When these ideas are put together for achievable results, we may be bequeathing an enduring legacy to our children and the children yet unborn. 937

Writing by Kume Agher; Editing by Fany Olumoye and Tersoo Nicholas