SITUATION OF CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE, ISLAMIC STUDIES AND CIVIC
EDUCATION AT THE BASIC EDUCATION LEVEL
Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) has the mandate to develop Curriculum for Basic and Senior Secondary Education levels. The process of Curriculum Development ranging from High Level Policy Committee on the review of National Curriculum, made up of eminent Nigerians, stakeholders in education, parents, market women, faith based organizations, traditional rulers, NGOs, CBOs, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Association of Nigerian Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPS) and International Development Partners and Organised Private Sector. This is to give direction and develop a framework for the type of curriculum that Nigeria needs in the 21st century.
The curricula passes through the next stages of planning, development, critique and editorial as well as the approval stages of the Joint Consultative Committee on Education (JCCE) both reference and Plenary made up of a broad spectrum of stakeholders, all Directors in education, NGOs, CBOs and International Development Partners among others.
The Basic Education Curriculum which includes the Christian Religious Knowledge and Islamic Studies Curricula was approved in 2013 by the National Council on Education which is the apex policy making body in education in Nigeria, made up of all the 36 States Commissioners of
Education and the FCT under the Chairmanship of the Honourable Minister of Education.
For the avoidance of doubt, the last review of the curriculum was approved in 2013 and implementation commenced in September, 2014. In both instances, neither the Christian Religious Knowledge nor Islamic Studies was removed from the curriculum. In fact, at the commencement of the present administration, the Hon. Minister of Education sought and obtained the approval of the National Council on Education to make Christian Religious Knowledge compulsory for all Christians students and Islamic Studies compulsory for their Muslim counterparts.
The claims peddled on social media platforms and a national daily are to say the least speculative, false and unfounded. Specifically as regards the Religion and National Values Curriculum.
These claims are that:
(a) Christian Religious Knowledge is no longer existing in school but it is a theme in Civic Education
(b) Islamic Arabic Studies/French subjects have been introduced in the new curriculum; and that a pupil/student will study either Islamic Arabic studies or French.
(c) Christian Student, based on claim (b) will be left with no option than to study Islamic Arabic Studies since French teachers are more or less non-existent in schools .It is obvious after perusing these claims, that while some of the peddlers operate from the oblivious side of information, many resort to this out of mischief needless of being extended into the critical
sector of education.
The Management of NERDC hereby reiterates categorically and unequivocally to all Nigerians that the subject offerings (Civic Education, Social Studies, Christian Religious Knowledge, Islamic
Studies and Security Education) under the Religion and National Values Curriculum are distinct, as listed and taught separately on the time table.
In this Curriculum, no child should be coerced or compelled to learn or be taught in school any religious studies subject but only one (out of the two) that restrictively relates to the belief system
professed by the child and his/her parents.
Teachers had been trained in the six Geopolitical Zones to be able to teach these distinct subjects. They are well aware of the mode of teaching the Religion and National Values Curriculum as distinct
subjects on the time table.
In view of the claims therefore, NERDC hereby states that:
(a) CRK is still taught in schools; as a separate distinct subject with the accompanying Teachers’ Guide
(b) CRK is not a theme in Civic Education. Civic Education is a distinct subject on its own which teaches the rudiments of good citizenship.
(c) There is no subject in the Nigerian School Curriculum called Islamic Arabic Studies nor anywhere in the world as being
(d) French is a compulsory subject from Primary 4 as dictated by the National Policy on Education Section 2 sub-section 23.7p 13. Efforts are in top gear to print the Christian Religious Knowledge and
Islamic Studies Curriculum separately in order to maintain their characteristics and distinctiveness.
As a Regional Centre of Curriculum Excellence, we are very receptive to good suggestions from all critical stakeholders especially ideas that are policy driven and within the scope of our mandate. Indeed, we sincerely appreciate the organizations, institutions and individuals that considered it wise to contact us on this matter.
NERDC stands for integrity and excellence in educational research and development. The management stands for education for human dignity, economic reconstruction and value reorientation. We therefore sincerely appeal to politicians and fifth columnist to desist from dragging education into the political melee capable of destabilising the education sector and mortgaging the future of upcoming generation of Nigerians.
Professor Ismail Junaidu