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Still on the Return of History – By Arnold A. Alalibo

By Arnold A. Alalibo | November 3, 2017 | NNP | The hue and cry in opposition to the eradication of History Studies from our primary and secondary schools has eventually paid off. Its notional existence for about three decades has proved catastrophic to a nation and generations interred in ignorance or incapacity. A proclamation from the Chief Executive Officer of the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Professor Josiah Ajiboye, revealed that the decision was taken at the National Council of Education (NCE) meeting recently. The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, ordered that the subject be taught compulsorily at the basic level. To this end, social studies, which supplanted it, will be disarticulated. This development will certainly gratify historians and devotees of the subject like the All Progressives Congress National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who once clamoured for the return of history to schools, former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Emeka Anyaoku and Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka.
Amazed at the sudden evanescence of history from our school curriculum, Soyinka inquired: “Can you imagine that? What is wrong with history? Or, maybe, I should ask, what is wrong with some people’s head”? The straightforward answer to that inquisition is that our education policy-makers suffer from stupor. History was invented by the Greek scholar, Herodotus. It is the study of past events to preserve society’s heritage and achievements. History, therefore, is society’s memory, the way human memory is to man. With the aid of history, society can easily observe the concatenation and organic linkage among the past, present and future. It is a chain that spells disaster for the society once it is broken. Unfortunately, Nigeria has failed to contend with this fact and the country is paying for it dearly.
By prohibiting history from our schools, our youths missed the values the subject inculcates. Such values include nation-building, patriotism, social cohesion and national pride.
History began its declivity in Nigeria when it was erroneously believed that science and technology were the only subjects worth teaching in our primary and secondary schools. The study of history does not take anything away from a child. Rather, it sharpens their writing skill and deepens their analytic faculties. Isn’t it instructive that despite the technological elevation of Western nations, they have not discarded their history? In the United Kingdom, for example, history is indispensably taught in public schools up to the age of 14. Each time the United States of America (USA) celebrates Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated on April 4th, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, it opens a chapter of its history, particularly for the youths to learn the imperative of a multi-racial society, justice, courage, truth and non-violence Similarly, the Germans essentially teach the holocaust and the Nazi epoch in their schools up to the 10th grade in two regular hours per week. Also, German students periodically visit Adolf Hitler’s Concentration Camps and Museums.

Sadly, the reverse is the case in Nigeria, where a civil war was fought from 1967 to 1970. Because the youths are denied knowledge of that tragedy, its lessons have been lost. It is ludicrous that on October 1st every year, Nigerian school children ramble to their state capitals and local government headquarters for parades to mark the country’s independence, but they are intellectually bereft of the significance of the ceremony and the events that preceded it.
If the Nigerian government truly understands the importance of history and its relevance to our national goals and objectives, it would do all to encourage its teaching at every level of our education system. Now that the NCE has realised its inadvertence and reinstated the subject to the curriculum, it has to adopt a new approach to the teaching of the subject. The emphasis this time should be on Nigerian history and a little of African comtemporary history.
If one does not know the history and political trajectory of one’s country, how can one efficaciously govern it? History will afford us the occasion to learn from the aberrations or pitfalls of the past and avoid them in the present and future development of the country.
The time has come for our political and education authorities to reappraise our total national objectives and the place of the teaching of some subjects in it. When this is done, we shall realise forthwith that in addition to the teaching of science subjects, history and other liberal arts subjects have to be extensively taught because they can advance national consciousness and boost socio/economic development.

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Posted by on Nov 3 2017. Filed under Arnold Alalibo, Articles, Columnists, Education, NNP Columnists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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