Wednesday, June 7, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Report by Christian committee on basic education curriculum

REPORT BY THE CHRISTIAN THINK-TANK COMMITTEE ON THE NEWLY INTRODUCED CURRICULUM FOR BASIC EDUCATION.

PREAMBLE
The Primary and Junior Secondary Schools being the bedrock and foundation, upon which the whole Education system is built has undoubtedly come under a cruel, malignant and satanic siege in Nigeria
..
Following the decision of the Federal Government to introduce the Universal 9-year Basic Education programme, the Nigerian Educational Research Development Council (NERDC) restructured and realigned all extant Primary and Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) curricula into a 9-year Basic Education curriculum which commenced in 2008. This curriculum was recently revised by the Federal Ministry of Education through the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC). Part of the revised curriculum is the omnibus subject called Religion and the National Values. Religion and National Values is said to be the merging of formerly independent subjects such as Christian Religious Studies, Islamic Studies, Civic Education, Social Studies and the newly introduced National Security Education into one compulsory subject.

This decision portends danger as well as infringement on the right of the children and their parents. Hence, there is a need to educate all and sundry (especially Christians) on the implications of the newly introduced curriculum by the Nigerian Educational Research Development Council (NERDC). Therefore, the Christian Think-Tank for the Body of Christ (Edo- Delta) has decided to take a firm stand on the issue; hence this publication.

OBSERVATIONS ON THE NEW CURRICULUM.
Some of the offensive or controversial parts of the curriculum include:
The subtle silence in the entire curriculum on the fact that JESUS is the SON of GOD, The MESSIAH and REDEEMER of Mankind.
The supremacy of Prophet Mohammed over all other prophets or religious icons.
The "glorious Koran" being the final authority of Allah.
Children being encouraged to disobey their parents if they refuse them to follow Allah. It should be noted that Christians will resist any contrary teaching to their beliefs and indoctrination of their children especially when the omnibus curriculum on Religion and National Values is expected to inculcate in and encourage children to disobey their parents (e.g. in one of the textbooks it is stated "Do not listen to your parents, if they prevent you from accepting Islam"). Obviously such a statement is very offensive to the tenets of the Christian faith.
Prophet Issa (that Christians know as Jesus Christ) did not die, nor was He crucified and neither did He resurrect. These statements are deliberate attacks on the very foundation of the Christian faith.
All the children including those of the other faith apart from Islam, are to compulsorily learn, recite and memorize the Koran or Arabic language. It is a cruel infringement on the human rights of Christian children as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution that they should be forced to memorize and recite the Quran/ Arabic language under any guise.
The 9 - year curriculum is written for tender hearts (minors) where indelible impressions are formed to shape them for life. Making this omnibus subject compulsory for the minors or tender-minds negate the declaration on Human and People's Right, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and even the Child Right Act of 2003. More importantly, it takes away the Biblical injunction to Christian parents in Prov. 22:6 which says "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

We are of the opinion that curriculum review ought to eliminate subject matter overlaps, redundancies and enrich curriculum quality through the infusion of emerging issues. However, this duty as exercised in this respect is faulty. A holistic view of the rights - both as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Child Rights Act point to the fact that the parents or legal guardians should be taken into consideration in any matter that affects the interest of the child. Unfortunately, the current educational curriculum didn't take all these into consideration. In fact parents as Stakeholders were not consulted before the formulation and implementation. The right of the child not to be exposed to a contrary religion outside those of his parents/guardian is not taken into consideration by this curriculum. According to Section 38(2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, no person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or take part in any religious observance that is contrary to his religion or religion of his/her parent or guardian. Also, subsection (1) of the same Section 38 makes it explicit that freedom of worship is sacrosanct.

RECOMMENDATIONS/THE WAY FORWARD
Christians should present a formidable, united front and say NO to the new 9 year Basic Education Curriculum on Religion and National Values wherein five subjects have been fused into one.
We wish to present unequivocally the following as "the way forward" on this matter so as to accommodate the interests of all those involved.
Christian Religious Studies and Islamic Religious Studies should be allowed to stand separately and should be studied as independent subjects with separate textbooks just like the Nigerian languages (Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba) in line with the previous curriculum
Re-introduction of History, Geography, Economics and Accounting back into the Junior Secondary School Curriculum.
Curriculum developers should ensure that the contents do not contradict our constitutional provisions. They should be conscious of the religious and cultural sensibility of Nigerians.
Attempts to make the omnibus subject (Religion and National Values) compulsory for Basic Education Certificate Examination should be discountenanced.
The disadvantage of this omnibus subject (integration) outweighs whatever advantage it may be said to have. When five subjects are merged into one, it is obvious that detailed work cannot be achieved both in writing of the textbook and in the instruction/teaching. The child would be made to struggle to learn and comprehend five - in - one subject which will not be easy for him/her. The result most likely would be the sacrifice of excellence on the altar of social integration which will amount to being "penny wise and pound foolish".
Government should devise means of confronting directly the enemies of our corporate existence as a Nation who propagate violence and religious intolerance rather than making any religious subject compulsory as Nigeria has no National Religion.
Christian parents as major stakeholders in the education of their children and wards were not consulted before the formulation and implementation of this curriculum. Therefore there should be a public hearing on such a sensitive matter as this so as to feel the pulse and galvanize the opinions of parents and children.
Relevant authorities who were mandated to "midwife" this new curriculum should urgently revert to "status quo ante".
9. List of recommended textbooks should be included in the curriculum.
Publishers of recommended books should be keenly and closely monitored and supervised to ensure that the Books published on Christian Religious Knowledge represent a true and rich reflection of Christian beliefs, tenets and principles.


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