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Nigerian minister explains why government re-introduced history at elementary level

Goodluck Nanah Opiah, the Nigerian Minister of State for Education, said on Thursday that the decision to reintroduce history is another significant milestone in revamping the education sector, starting at the fundamental level of teaching & learning.

Rt. Hon. Goodluck Nanah Opiah, the Nigerian Minister of State for Education, said on Thursday that the decision to reintroduce history is another significant milestone in revamping the education sector, starting at the fundamental level of teaching and learning.

The reintroduction of History classes and the beginning of History teacher training at the elementary school level were announced by Rt. Hon. Opiah, who was standing in for Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu.

According to a press release signed by SA Media & Public Affairs to the Minister of State for Education, Sir Kelechi Mejuobi, and made available to NewsXtra, “this ceremony marks the laying of another sustainable foundation for our educational system and further expands our opportunities for building resilience through an initiative that will inculcate in our young the knowledge of where they are coming from.”

“History used to be one of the foundation subjects taught in our classroom, but for inexplicable reasons, the stream of teaching and learning was abolished, forcing it to be expunged from the list of subject combinations students could offer in both external and internal examinations compared to the subjects that were made compulsory at basic and senior secondary levels in Nigeria.”

The Minister stated, “history underlies approach and methods deployed in addressing our current day challenges, especially with insecurity,” as the rationale for introducing the subject again.

“We would naturally use historical narratives with the application of experience resulting from causes of events to solutions by using homegrown solutions. This is ordinarily centred on our ethnic, heritage, cultural host, and multicultural influences within our peculiar communities, which derive from our common origins.

“Such an entrenched teaching and learning provide the opportunity for appreciating antecedents that extol the great deeds of our past heroes, their sacrifices and contributions to creating the foundation for an indivisible nation. In doing this, we remember and celebrate monumental achievements, memorable dates, events, names, and every event of historical significance.”

Opiah elaborated on the return of history to the elementary school curriculum, saying, “this occasion today reminds us that it is not too late to rediscover and expose our next generations to the historical development of their fatherland and begin to conscientize them on the prevention of pitfalls and how to avoid repetition of past mistakes and failures.  This will help them reconnect with the past. This can be done by documenting facts and figures by teaching and learning history as a subject.”

Opiah elaborated by saying that one of the reasons the topic needs to come back is so that we can profit from the lost original African tradition of story-telling, which was used to capture and teach values, morals, folklore, and most of our oral history.

“This development has pushed us to a point where the study of history has to be brought back to enhance our understanding of how events occurred in the past, how this knowledge can shape our interactions in the present and define what we bequeath to our future generations,” he said.

He continued, “It is logical that if history underlies approach and methods deployed in addressing our current challenges, especially with insecurity, we would naturally use historical narratives with the application of experience resulting from causes of events to solutions by using homegrown solutions. This is ordinarily centred on our ethnic heritage, cultural history, and multicultural influences derived from our common origins within our peculiar communities.”

This is what the Minister of State for Education had to say about the new program’s potential success: “In reintroducing the teaching and learning of history, the government is not only concerned about the learners but hopes to pay particular attention to the teachers who will impart the knowledge. Therefore, training and retraining of these teachers to enhance their capacity development that will lead to the mastery of the subject will be a focus of this reintroduction.”