A solution to the school curriculum fiasco between the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the federal government is in the offing as both parties began exploratory meetings to iron out areas of differences.
Details of the meeting, available to Everyday.NG, which had the Executive Secretary of the National Education and Research Development Council (NERDC), Professor Ismail Junaidu and five of his directors on one hand; and Dr. Sam Itina of the Nigeria Christian Graduate Fellowship and other Christian representatives came up with recommendations that include that NERDC should produce separate curriculum booklets for Islamic Religious Studies and Christian Religious Studies, as it is done with the Teachers manual.
In his presentation on behalf of the Christian group, Prof. Charles Adisa, noted the
obvious lapses in the new curriculum which included:
*Inciting/Derogatory statements which attack the foundation of Christianity. For example, that Jesus was not the Son of God was not crucified and did not resurrect.
*Textbooks in print that combine Islamic Religious Knowledge and Christian Religious knowledge in a single textbook thus exposing children to other religion which negates the principles of the constitution.
*Absence of subjects like History, Geography and Economics in the new curriculum.
*Absence of approved list of textbooks as an appendix in the curriculum/ NERDC website.
*Watered down content of the various subjects as a result of creating an omnibus textbook.
*Making religious studies compulsory without the adequate provision of Teachers in those subjects. The implications are that a Christian student in the core north will be forced to take IRK and ditto a Muslim student in the South. In addition, a student that refuses to take the subject as a result of conflict with his/her religion is shortchanged of marks for that compulsory subject and may have his educational career truncated.
Among the recommendations presented to the educational council are that IRS and CRS should be stand alone subjects which should not be made compulsory for students.
Publishers should also be supervised so that the textbooks in print are a reflection of the principles and standard of the curriculum.
In addition, the list of recommended textbooks should be incorporated as an appendix in the curriculum. In addition, this list should be freely available on the NERDC website.
The group also canvassed the re-introduction of History geography, economics and accounting back into the curriculum, while Curriculum developers should ensure that the content conform with our constitutional provision.
Moreover, the developers should be conscious of the religious and cultural sensibility of Nigerians.
The NERDC team pointed out that it would be willing to collaborate with groups like the NCGF adding that it’s documents go through three levels of review before approval as was done in the case of Religion and National values, noting that CAN was duly invited represented at all these meetings
NERDC disclosed that there are two different teachers manual for IRS and CRS to reflect the separation of the two subjects.
Religious study, it noted was compulsory so as to provide a moral framework for adherence to the teachings of civic education, social studies and security education.
Professor Junaidu disowned the publishers and the books currently in the market but he did not give the name of any approved textbook for the subject, eight years after the publication of the new curriculum.
He accepted the recommendation of listing the approved books in the appendix of the curriculum as well as on their website.
NERDC, the team added, will not be able to exercise oversight function on what the schools are using, rather schools should verify from NERDC, the books that have been approved
The council, it was disclosed, was in the process of achieving a regulatory statue like NAFDAC to enable it prosecute publishers that are in deviance of the standard and principles of the curriculum.
The council accepted the need for further public hearing, sensitization and review of the new curriculum.
Junaidu insisted that it was the responsibility of government at various levels to provide Teachers for the subjects, and where this is not observed, parents were free to insist on it, even through litigation.