Before the Federal Government misdirects education again – Part 2
A curriculum changing or redesigning initiative for Nigeria is expected to reflect some attention whether major or minor, to such issues of national concern.
Just as it is expected that a country surrounded by aggressive and highly militarized neighbours is expected to have military psychology and training accommodated at the appropriate levels of its schooling, the above enumerated issues are of central concern in Nigeria and deserve some place in the curriculum being redesigned for Nigerian schools.
Anti-terrorist education, anti-insurgency curriculum, peace education, learning for deradicalization, and education-based counter-radicalization, should be among the central themes or propellers whenever the idea of curriculum redesigning features in the Nigeria context, as will be demonstrated in what follows, drawing on some of my earlier publications in some notable national dailies.
The proliferation of militant groups in the country can only be portentous of an unfavourable security situation in near future.
Then the Niger Delta avengers were asked to surrender their weapons for amnesty, what percentage of such weapons was surrendered by them? When the Ile-Ife communal clash subsided how much of the daggers, arrows and bows Dane guns, cutlasses and charms used by the blood-thirsty and trigger-happy “warriors” was really surrendered by them? By the time the Boko Haram insurgents dispersed from Sambisa Forest, what percentage of their weapons was dropped or retrieved? When the herdsmen are eventually persuaded to embrace peace, how are we handling the disarmament aspect of the conflict resolution? What about the arms and ammunition that normally constitute the backbone of the “professional” Nigerian politician? Where are they sourced? Where are they stored? And how are they accessed preparatory to electioneering.
There is a free flow of arms into Nigeria owing partly to the porous nature of its borders which are vast and undermanned. There are pedestrians’ access routes at virtually every border town in the country. This is coupled with the fact that virtually all the border towns are bounded by conflict zones. More critical than all that is that animals such as donkeys are used to transport firearms into the country.
Another method that has become common knowledge is the concealment of firearms in cargo flown, ferried or transported into the country through other means as livestock trucks, too, are used to convey these goods to urban settings for sale.
There have been several embarrassing revelations over border security breaches in Nigeria, in recent times, and the authorities and security operatives in the country seem yet unabashed. So, there now are weapons everywhere in Nigeria! Does the education system not have a role to play in this connection? Why therefore is the new curriculum redesigning initiative oblivious of this?
In mid-May 2019, a container full of firearms was imported into the country through the Lagos Port. After a purported comprehensive examination by the entire military operatives at the port, the head of the operations addressed the Press and revealed that the importer of the consignment was a licensed importer who is doing legitimate business and has all the documents required to deal in firearms.
Accordingly, the head of the operations assured that there was no course for alarm as the consignment was legally imported. The contents were said to include sub-machine guns, pump action removers with magazines, pump action removers without magazines, automatic remover (magazines). However, the purpose of the importation was not disclosed. What that says about Nigeria is that firearms are now ubiquitous!
Issues concerning the youth militancy, armed banditry, terrorism, unrestricted access to arms, or proliferation of small arms and slight weapons are not wholly addressed through military strength, soldiers’ macho character, or government’s masculinity. They are often characterized as a subset of ideological war and are therefore so treated. For more than four years, I articulated “Why Nigeria may not defeat Boko Haram soon” in several publications in various Nigerian dailies.
The question is, what can you do to make people surrender the arms and weapons in their possession or to make them abdicate a particular ideology or belief system? This belongs to both the cognitive and the affective domains of learning and there is need for a pedagogical engagement with a combination of thinking and attitudes, perception and feelings, understanding and dispositions, knowledge and values, philosophy and behavior, content and outcome, as well as learning experiences and change.
A school curriculum is never designed in a closed-door session but rather through the agency of an extensive stakeholder mapping and subsequent consultation with them with special attention to technical stakeholders.
How did the Federal Government come about the curriculum redesigning initiative in question which unfortunately seems to have missed the point from the conceptualization stage? Aside the question of youth radicalization and deradicalization, the high disaster risks in Nigeria are outstanding for high incidence of natural disasters.
As noted earlier concerning a country surrounded by militarily aggressive neighbours which should make military education a core of its school curriculum, the catastrophic effects of climate change in Nigeria seem more visible than the sun in daytime. It was reported that in 2017, flooding affected an estimated of 250,000 Nigerians and in 2016, 92,00 were displaced, while 40, percent of the country’s land area is now estimated to be subject to periodic drought.
Yet, the government’s response to natural disasters is below the desired level as the subject of climate change itself is not encouraged as a subject of popular debate. Floods, oil spill, drought, bush fire, landslides have always been in the top five natural disasters in Nigeria.
A recent report by Council on Foreign Relations scores Nigeria low in this regard and calls for an urgent reform of the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). However, the Federal Government seems unaware that there is a technically strong rationale for the introduction of climate change to the Nigerian classroom as the subject is deserving of a consideration in school curriculum proportioning for the country.
The literature may also be relied upon in determining the national education standards to guide curriculum redesigning for Nigeria. There is need for analysis of comparative data on the performance of Nigeria among other countries in human capital development through education. Findings from such analysis may offer some directions to curriculum reform. It should be noted at this juncture that what is generally known as national standards with regard to curriculum framework development is often technically referred to as conceptual and design principles.
Based on the above considerations, national standards may be generated to ultimately guide curriculum contents, pedagogical practices and assessment methods, in the context of the education reform planned or being designed for implementation by the Federal Government as hinted in the excerpt under discussion.
To be continued tomorrow
• Rufai is immediate past Dean of Education, Sokoto State University
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