‘Bring back our history’
Hope rises for restoration of history in schools’ curriculum
Since history was taken off the country’s educational curriculum seven years ago, the campaign for its restoration has been steady. Last week, Education Minister, Adamu Adamu raised hopes of its return to the curriculum. ENO-ABASI SUNDAY, writes on the unfolding scenario and stakeholders’ expectations.
When history was yanked off the curriculum of primary and secondary schools in the 2009/2010 academic session, the country’s education managers, perhaps never imagined the extent of hurt they were exacting on the Nigerian child.
Barely six years down the line, subtle protestations as well as sundry hues and cries have continued to greet that singular decision, which many stakeholders believe was not a product of good thinking, and so not in the interest of the upcoming generations.
Perhaps the importance and indeed the essence of the study of history to humans is captured in Roman philosopher, politician and lawyer’s submission that, “To know nothing of what happened before you were born is to forever remain a child.”
American statesman, author, reformer and the country’s 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt, sort of confirmed Cicero’s submission and went on to add that, “The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.”
It was in the light of this that former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, whilst speaking during the 70th anniversary of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) in Lagos State, urged both the federal and state governments to re-introduce history as a subject in their schools to enable the younger ones know about the past.
The former diplomat went on to stress that history was a subject that could enable an individual to know more about his or her past, which should not be eradicated.
‘’Without the knowledge of the past, there will be no fruitful projections for the future. The knowledge of the past is very vital to the development of the country, and we can only solve present societal problems when we know what was obtainable in the past,’’ Anyaoku said.
In February, historian and Chairman, Itsekiri Leaders of Thought, Pa J.O.S Ayomike, joined the league of well-meaning Nigerians clamouring for the reintroduction of the subject into Nigeria’s education curricula across all strata of learning.
In his remarks at the annual reunion of Class of 72/74 of the Federal Government College (FGC), Warri, Delta State, Ayomike said: “I use this occasion to make a call close to my heart. It has bothered many Nigerians that history, as a formal discipline, is no longer taught in our schools up to tertiary level. I call on education planners in the country to have a rethink and go back to teaching history.
“On my part, as a first step, I make a donation to your (FGC) library of historical tools (obtained from the United Kingdom museums) that are significant to our development,” the 89-year-old announced.
In similar vein, renowned author, Prof. Anezionwu Okoro, also recently decried the scrapping of history from secondary school curriculum, saying no country could possibly take definitive developmental strides without a thorough appraisal of its history.
Eighty-seven-year-old Okoro, who spoke in Enugu recently at the maiden meeting of the Board of Trustees of Coal City Literary Forum said, “I cannot imagine a country developing without studying history and this is something that should be urgently looked into.”
Okoro, author of One Week, One Trouble, among other books, said reintroducing the subject in schools would contribute its quota towards reinventing the society, as well as arming the younger generation with salient information.
The disappearance of history, which used to be a vibrant core school subject in the country still baffles many, especially considering the value of the subject to nation building, the development of an individual, his society or the larger community.
In fact, experts say that teaching and learning of history gave tremendous pleasure to the likes of A. L. Rowse, who declared that he had written the Teach Yourself History series “in the conviction that there can be no subject of study more important than history.”
Last week’s declaration by the Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, that the Federal Government was taking steps to restore history as a subject in primary and secondary schools’ curriculum is seen by many as a welcome development.
Adamu, speaking as a guest at on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum said, “Somebody, who doesn’t know his history is even worse than dead. So, this government is going to bring back history. It would even be better if we study local history first. You have to know who you are before you can be anything in this world. I believe this government is going to return history back to the curriculum,” he said.
Before Adamu raised hopes about the restoration of history to school’s curriculum, some efforts have been ongoing at different levels towards realising this goal.
For instance, Emeritus Professor of the History of Education at the University of Ibadan, and Emeritus Professor of History at Babcock University, Prof. Michael Omolewa, in his presentation at a past Conference of the History of Education Society of Nigeria, held at the University of Ibadan, pointed out, “It is important to note that in recent times, the younger and more vibrant historians have constituted themselves to a new outfit, the Organisation for Historical Research, and have launched a new offensive at saving the subject from complete annihilation in the educational system. The History of Education Society of Nigeria has also emerged to join, among other objectives, in the crusade for the revival of history teaching at all levels of education in the country.
He added that as the battle continues to rage for the survival of history that has declined in status in the schools and the tertiary institutions, one can make the point that there is no doubt that considerable damage has been done to the Nigerian nation by the elimination of the study of history in schools.
“For example, the very action of the elimination of history from school curriculum has dwarfed the study of the subject in Nigerian schools. First the elimination sounds like a vote of no confidence on the subject by those in authority, and that very act was unlikely to be helpful to the promotion of the subject. There is also the fact of the natural reluctance of students to take up something entirely new at a later stage of their study. Thus the initial enthusiasm for its study at the tertiary levels has waned. Thus there are now fewer students willing to study the subject that had dramatically disappeared from the school curriculum.”
Chairman, Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) Lagos State Wing, Comrade Segun Raheem, though favourably disposed to the reintroduction of the subject is, however, of the view that the educational system was long overdue for a comprehensive overhaul as it was currently wobbling.
Raheem said, “The National Policy on Education has been subjected to some forms of tinkering over the years. It is long over due for a comprehensive review. Until we do that as a nation, there is little that can be done to save the situation.”
He expressed delight that the process of reviving a subject that links the past with the present and gives an idea of what the future would look like has commenced, urging concerned authorities to be painstaking in going about it.
Ifesinachi Ukandu, a parent is excited about the planned reintroduction. But he had no kind words for those that masterminded its exclusion in the first instance. He is also peeved that some parents are grossly ignorant of the value of history to the average child.
“Restoring history to the curriculum would be a very brilliant idea. But it should not just be for the sake of it. Everything should be put in place to ensure that the young learners derive maximum benefit from the initiative.
I am aware that even some parents are not interested in their wards showing interest in history and the arts generally. But it is important to point out that every scientific invention has an history, which must be cherished in order for the future to be assured.”