It is difficult to understand why the error that has occurred in Nigeria with regards to History and Geography as subjects of study happened. It is obvious that we have ignored these subjects and still do.
And I say this even though I am aware that the subjects have now been re-introduced into the new primary school curriculum.
In order for our young ones both Primary school and secondary aged students to actually understand their environment and take up the mantle that will be handed over to them, they need desperately to know where they came from. They need to know their history and geography to be the leaders we expect them to be.
Yet these children have no understanding of the real stories of the past. Now thankfully that we have a new curriculum that has now included history in Upper Primary content of learning, children can now begin to learn these stories. This is all good, but from experience I know for a fact that most of the teachers in the primary schools have little or no real knowledge about our history, due to no fault of their own.
Luckily the Montessori curriculum does include these important subjects, but teachers need time to learn and know more (local content) in order to help our children gain interest and be motivated to learn more themselves.
The family, religious institutions and schools may have failed to educate the children, young adults and even middle aged parents about their past, and now we just expect the teachers to pick up the new curriculum go into the classroom and use the textbooks to teach these subjects!
Yes I know that we could employ part-time teachers who have specialised in History for example to teach in the Primary schools, but I think this is not right to continue to increase the expenses of schools because we tend to simply change the system without realising what the future effects of these decisions would be.
Does that mean, we should not implement the new curriculum?
No! That is actually not my point. There needs to be a permanent solution.
What we may need to do is to have, History and Geography workshops for teachers so that we can get to grips with the details of what we need to be teaching our children.
It is worthy of note that the Phonics, Literacy, Mathematics, Hand-writing, and STEM experts have taken up their banners and helped the education sector learn 21st Century skills to help teachers deliver effectively in the classroom.
Can we ask the History and Geography subject experts to do the same?
I hope that what we are asked to teach the children would be age appropriate:
Nursery school children: Need stories of our heroes and a general understanding of the world and their continent and country
Primary school children: They need a brief history of the Precolonial Empires, The Colonial Period and a Brief History of Nigeria all knit together with stories of people during these periods. As well as a well grounded knowledge of the Nigerian environment.
Secondary school students: Need to be able to explore, local and global, political and constitutional aspects of our history and geography.
We need the help of History and Geography experts in the society, so that the country at large can learn about the past in a meaningful way, and the errors made by excluding History and Geography from the national content in our schools can be repaired.