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What govt must do in restoring teaching of History — STAKEHOLDERS

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By Dayo Adesulu

AFTER  decades  of proscribing the teaching of History as  a subject in schools, the Federal Government is set to commence the teaching in September.

Historians have however said that  considering the decades History had been removed from our curriculum, its effect would have resulted into dearth of history teachers.

The  Federal Government in June had promised to return the study of History to secondary school curriculum while ensuring that all primary school teachers would be retrained to deliver digital literacy.

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It will be recalled in June that during the launch of Education for Justice Programme, organised by the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono disclosed that government will return the study of History into secondary school curriculum.

Stakeholders, especially historians who spoke with Vanguard are saying there is definite dearth of History teachers resulting from years of removal from our curriculum.

While lauding the reintroduction of history to  curriculum, they cautioned that certain steps need be taken before, during and after the  take off of the subject.

Reacting to the development, a Professor of History and former Vice Chancellor, Caleb University,   Professor Ayodeji Olukoju said since  Education is on the  concurrent list, inter and intra tier collaboration is required in returning History to the curriculum.

He said: “First, stakeholders should work out the content of the syllabus to suit the context. Second, as this is a culturally diverse federation, the local, state, regional, ethno cultural contexts should be incorporated in the content.

“Hence, the syllabus will have a series of concentric circles to reflect these contexts.

“Third, separate texts should be developed for Primaries 1-3; Primaries 4-6; and JSS1-3. Fourth, while Education History graduates (classroom teachers, lecturers, Professors) should work out the pedagogy, core historians should produce the content.

“Finally, each text should be produced to suit the peculiarities of the learning stage of the users, both students and teachers, including illustrations and sample questions as appropriate.“At the risk of self promotion, it is on record that a group led by me was commissioned to produce the appropriate  History textbooks, following the foregoing parameters, for the   Lagos State Government in 2015 but the process was never consummated.

Speaking further  on how to remedy the dearth of teachers in the subject,  Olukoju said: “Recruiting History teachers should be done systematically and in phases as the subject is injected into the different levels of schooling.

“Candidates who obtained a minimum of SSCE credit pass in History should be given priority in admissions into NCE and degree programmes in Education History and   History Major. “Incentives should be provided in the short run to encourage prospective teachers as was done for Education Science students. Regular in-service training should be conducted to improve teaching skills.”

Speaking in the same vein, the Dean of Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos, Professor Akinyomi Akinyeye expressed his pleasure on the return of History to our curriculum.

Having taught Military History, Strategic Studies and International Relations since 1990, he stressed the need to overhaul the contents of what should be taught in history class.

While teaching History as a subject, he posited that emphasis should be on nation building, challenges of technological and economic development in our country.

His words: ‘’Emphasis should be on nation building, challenges of technological and economic development. Also, there is need to explain in teaching of history, the reasons for Africa’s underdog position in relationships with other parts of the world.”

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