False alarm over new curriculum

No Comments » May 10th, 2016 posted by // Categories: Education for Nigerians (EFN)


Daily Trust


False alarm over new curriculum

By Daily Trust | Publish Date: May 9 2016 5:00AM

Various Nigerian religious organisations and individuals recently rose against what they called the revised Basic Education Curriculum (BEC). Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), for instance, alleged that the revised curriculum merged Islamic Religious Studies (IRS) with Christian Religious Studies (CRS). Anthony Cardinal Okogie, on the other hand, accused the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) of adopting a curriculum that merged five subjects including IRS and CRS into one subject called Religion and National Values (RNV). He alleged that all children including those of the Christian faith would be required by the curriculum to ‘memorise and recite the Qur’an’ just as they would also be taught that ‘Jesus neither died on the cross nor resurrected’. Still others said the “revised curriculum” is a ploy by President Muhammadu Buhari to Islamise the country.

The Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) recently responded to the allegations. It described them as false and speculative. It said the classification of five subjects into one group is for the purpose of subject listing but that each subject has its separate curriculum contents with separate periods on the school timetable. NERDC also said the existing curriculum for each subject was developed with the involvement of critical stakeholders including subject specialists, curriculum experts and faith-based organisations.

In spite of the explanation, some people have maintained their campaign against the curriculum changes. Cardinal Okogie for instance, cited a textbook published by Heritage Integrated Link which contradicts the contents of the existing curriculum. However, this book was not published by NERDC, so neither it nor the Federal Ministry of Education can be held responsible for its contents.
The curriculum revision that NERC undertook has a long history. Back in 2010, former President Goodluck Jonathan convened a national summit on education. There, some delegates called for a reduction in the number of subjects offered at the basic level of education, 20 of them at that time. NERDC was mandated to reduce the number. After much brain storming it arranged the subjects into groups, producing a maximum of 12 subjects at the lower basic (primary 1-3), 9 subjects at the middle basic (primary 4-6) and 10 subjects at the upper basic (JS 1-3).

One of the listed subject groupings for the BEC is RNV which has five subjects each with a distinct curriculum, distinct subject teachers and distinct periods on the school timetable. The five subjects under RNV are CRS/IRS which are offered alternatively as a student is not allowed to offer both; Social Studies; Civic Education; and Security Education. Basic Science and Technology (BST) is also another group of subject listings which has Basic Science, Basic Technology, Physical and Health Education, and Computer Studies all grouped under it.
In the existing BEC, English, Mathematics, French language, Arabic Language, and Business Studies (at the upper basic) are the only subjects that stand on their own. All the remaining 17 subjects in BEC have been respectively listed under various subject groupings as Religion and National Values, Nigerian Languages, Basic Science and Technology, Pre-Vocational Subjects, and Cultural and Creative Arts. It is important to note that the curriculum became over-loaded with a long list of subjects when government heeded the call for the inclusion of certain subjects and themes into the curriculum. Entrepreneurship, for example, is a subject under Pre-Vocational Studies just as Security Education is a subject under RNV. There have been agitations for the curriculum to include subjects for Road Safety, Disaster Risk Reduction Education, Consumer Education Curriculum, Peace and Conflict Resolution etc. The Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) also called for a school subject on corruption. Recently, experts at the National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) called for Sexuality Education as a school subject.
While we urge the FME, NERDC and the state ministries of education to embark on massive public enlightenment on the structure of the existing BEC, we also call on organisations and individuals to distinguish rumours from facts before commenting on this matter. Government should resist pressures from interest groups that agitate for more and more school subjects.

Read more at http://www.dailytrust.com.ng/news/editorial/false-alarm-over-new-curriculum/145934.html#4XD9E8H23xW2jrJF.99


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