Importance of History in nation building
By Ayodele Fagbohun
If you want to suffer a nation, take it away from its history”- Dr Bolajoko Sally, President of National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS).
The latest proposal of the Federal Government to re-introduce the study of History as a compulsory subject in the curriculums of the primary and post primary institutions is not only a welcome and positive development but in no small measure to right the wrongs and the monumental injustices done over the years to our national psyche by the unpopular, unilateral and retrogressive removal of history from the syllabus.
The callous, intemperate and retrograde policy wilfully taken to wipe out history as a branch of learning that fosters spirit of enquiries in contemporary society; was to suffer a nation, denigrate and stultify her growth, progress and completely in perpetuity subservient under the rule of the thumb fashioned by military autocracy.
The declarative assertion of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Sunny Echono making the study of History a compulsory subject to be re-introduced into the school curriculums is not enough.
The recent government pronouncement should be robustly supported, firmed up and bankrolled by equipping the schools with relevant textbooks and listing the recruitment of History teachers a top priority before the resumption of the next academic session come 2019/2020. The teaching of history and other equally important and ancillary subjects like religious studies which are pivotal and strategic to other levels of education and by extension to national development should be given the fillip in the scheme of things.
Besides, the curriculum in the secondary schools should be developed to accommodate the widest scope of learning and scholarship be it moral and religions to enable and guide students in the choice of their courses when seeking admission into various tertiary institutions.
In this connection, the government must priorities the teaching of religious education. Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK),, Islamic Studies (IS) and African Traditional Religion (ATR) should be given the impetus and a pride of place in the school curriculum to dis-abuse the minds of the gullible and to explode the rumour mill and myth surrounding the wicked lie that President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration is heading toward Islamisation and Fulanisation of the country.
The agents and sponsors of religious bigotry and destabilization are the enemies of Nigeria; pack of ignoramuses bereft of our contemporary history. This group regardless of age and status should go back to school and avail themselves the opportunity of adult education to learn the rudiments of Nigerian history. Lest they quail at the might of their strength as the country shall remain inviolable and indivisible secular state.
The ministry in a clever manner to perpetuate their illegal regime discountenanced the study of History in our secondary schools to brainwash the students and the people alike and to put the whole nation in the dark to know and comprehend the evils and enmity of coups detat alongside its violent upheavals which the student of History impacts. Without the requisite personnel by way of enough trained teachers to ground all the classrooms, all spirited efforts of government and stakeholders to rejig education to its top form will be “sound and fury” signify nothing.
Some stakeholders posit that the importance of history as foundation of life and knowledge to national identity, civil responsibility, patriotism, nation building and overall human development could neither be over-emphasised nor quantified by any stretch of imagination
History is taught in schools for the purpose of instilling civic virtue, patriotism, under dictatorship. When Nigerian was under the jackboot of military despotism, our military rulers and the policy makers and their advisers found the study of history and the allied courses irksome, revolutionary and totally unacceptable. It sorely provoked their ires and stroke it out from the school’s curriculums and syllabi. Ever since the nation has been groping in the dark, lost her bearings, and it has become rudderless walking on her head until sanity prevails with the coming of civilian rule that now restores normalcy on the body politick.
Little wonder, Dr (Mrs) Bolajoko Sally of NAPPS submitted as quoted in the preface of this essay that if you want to deny or deprive a nation, you may go for her jugular by taking away her history. You trample or rather distort people’s history to their peril.
Mr Abdul Wahid Obalokun of the League of Muslim School Proprietors (LEAMP) said: “removing history is like asking you to forget your root and yet, you want to forge ahead and we don’t know how possible is such without first looking at the past, so as to compare it with the present and then plan for the future “And that is why Nigeria children of now days don’t know our heroes and heroines and where we are coming from let alone comparing it with the present nor where we are going as a nation.”
History has focused on the actions of government, their leaders and the conflicts amongst them. In other words, all these could be well researched and clinically documented in political and diplomatic history at tertiary level. In absolute and practical terms, history always affords any nation or given society an inclination to know with precision and exactitude the type of leadership and government ideal suitable for a particular phase or epoch. Capacity to manage and navigate; and to reconstruct a better future and civilsations based on the past and present challenges belong forever to the intrinsic value and a matter of great import of history as a field of knowledge.
History as a social science deals with human experience in political science, sociology, anthropology and economics. History is also a social science that attempts to establish objective truth about man and society. Historical study, by the same token starts from curiosity or awareness that impinges on scientific pursuit obviously to provide a greater range of data. It however needs to be re-emphasised that a historical narrative is a form of literature for intellectual pursuits.
To cap it all, it is asserted that the historian must employ his faculties of criticism and objective judgment in order to derive and arrive at the “nearest approximation” to the truth about the past. Only strict adherence to the truth and objectivity which are the hallmarks of the historian shall fast-track the nation on the path of nation building patriotism and rectitude.
The study of history must be amplified to enable the pupils and students in respectively primary and grammar schools have a wider horizon about contemporary and global issues. This will be a deliberate policy to rekindle the flames of patriotism and nationalism whittled down via the rude military incursion into politics.
Hear what Dr. Mike Ene, Secretary General of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) says on the belated re-introduction of history as a compulsory subject: “The law of morality says: if you don’t know where you are coming from, it will be difficult to know where exactly you are going and that is the situation about history in any society.”