Proffering Solution To Nigeria’s Woes

Proffering Solution To Nigeria’s Woes

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 1:14 pm

Stephen Oni/Ilorin

To Mrs. Alice Arinlade Jekayinfa, a Professor of Social Studies Education at the University of Ilorin, for Nigeria to get out of the woods, it must get back to basics by according essential education such as history and social studies their rightful places in the country’s school curriculum. The twin subjects, which incidentally have been neglected or relegated to the background in the country, aside instilling patriotism and nationalism in citizens of any nation, also help in inculcating virtues, values and skills required to be responsible and disciplined members of the society. And curiously, while history has now become an elective subject alongside government at the senior secondary school level, its social studies counterpart has been replaced with civic education, despite their very essential status.

Prof. Alice Jekayinfa

Prof. Alice Jekayinfa

Without the knowledge of history, Jekayinfa posited, it would be an uphill task to produce a successful generation. “The present is a product of the past as the past is the foundation of today, and today is the foundation of tomorrow,” she argued. To her, the trio of the past, present and the future are organically inter-connected because the knowledge of what happened before is bound to influence decisions on how to conduct today’s affairs, if the pitfalls of the past are to be avoided, adding that those who fail to learn from history are bound to repeat its errors.

“How are our children supposed to internalise the values of integrity, tolerance and hard work which are celebrated in the history of our various peoples but which are totally lacking in our public service today because of the relegation of History as a subject in the senior secondary school level? queriedJekayinfa.

According to her, there is no way the future can be projected into if the past is not studied and understood, pointing out that any person without the mastery of his or her history would be like a tree without roots that is bound to collapse. “There is no way we can progress as a people and nation without history,” she maintained.

The don, who delivered her inaugural lecture entitled, “Essential Education Beyond Relegation”, on 5 June 2014, noted that social studies education, which incidentally has suffered a worse fate than history, is a value-laden instruction which relates citizens’ obligations and duties to the state, wondering why such a vital discipline that is a veritable tool for achieving national integration and development as well as capable of checkmating the rising spate of corruption in the society should be sacrificed on the altar of politics.

Social studies education, Jekayinfa said, seeks to make children develop a sense of comprehension towards other people, their diverse cultures, history and those fundamental things that make them humans, adding that the unified integrative nature of the subject rightly positions it as an embodiment of essential education which should not be relegated. To her, an individual that is exposed to social studies content is given a positive orientation, which would ultimately prepare him or her to function effectively in the society.

Curiously, unlike in Nigeria, the don observed, social studies education is gaining increasing ascendancy in the schools’ curricula in countries like Ghana, Sierra Leone and other parts of Africa, pointing out that given the striking similarities of the Ghanaian and Nigerian socio-cultural and political experiences, it is foolhardy to undermine the advancement of the subject in Nigerian Senior Secondary School curriculum, which is now posing a serious threat to the realisation of the goals of the country’s educational system.

To Jekayinfa, it is Nigeria and its people that now bear the brunt of this neglect or relegation which has resulted in numerous challenges caused by political and social vices prevalent in the system, arising largely from monumental corruption. Little wonder, the country can hardly boast of decent roads devoid of potholes while most public schools, public universities, and the civil service have been operating with serious constraints. “Some Nigerians wear corruption like an ornament and flaunt loot like a medal and one can hardly get anything done in the private or public sector without partaking in corruption,” Jekayinfa lamented.

While the country is swarmed by ethnic and religious conflicts, neck-deep in tribal wars, the don decried the high rate of unemployment, poverty, hunger and insecurity which have enveloped the whole strata of the economic and political terrain, saying corruption is waxing despite the establishment of anti-corruption agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC. She said: “Corruption has been so much rampant in Nigeria that it appears to be an official policy in public and private transactions, while it involves both the high and the low and covers all areas of life.”

Thus, corruption is the greatest problem facing the country, resulting in poor governance, socio-political and economic problems which, according to the don, are the direct consequences of relegation of the twin essential education where needed virtues such as honesty and integrity are learnt and imbibed.

Certainly, there are crises here and there across the country with incidences of communal clashes among the various ethnic groups, kidnapping, militancy, terrorism, flagrant disregard for the rule of law, electoral violence and thuggery, among other vices, which, sadly have made the people to be hopelessly in the firm grip of terror. The core message in all this, Jekayinfa reiterated, is that the country needs a new crop of citizens who can effectively address its developmental challenges as a post-colonial state, making it imperative for the teaching of both History and Social Studies Education from the primary to the higher institution levels, adding that there is an urgent need to imbue all and sundry with an enduring sense of history, if genuine development is to take place. In addition, it was her contention that government should assist by encouraging the development of Historical Centres where pupils can visit with a view to making them interested in the subject because that would enable them to have a clear picture of what they are being taught in class. It is, therefore, her submission that both history and social studies education are “essential education beyond relegation”.

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