Deciphering Nigeria’s controversial subject; RELIGION AND NATIONAL VALUES…

                 A glance through the content of religion and national values (RNV) will convince or misguide one on what exactly the subject represents. For starters, RNV is a subject introduced to the Nigerian basic education (primary & JSS) curriculum. It is a merger of some liberal arts subjects, to include C.R.S., Islamic studies, social studies, civic education & security awareness. The subject is a product of the review of the Nigerian basic education, a streamline which intends to produce a viable curriculum to meet national and international goals (including NEEDS, EFA & MDGS) and also void of subject overloading.

         However RNV viz. the curriculum review has at different occasions been a controversial issue on the conventional and new media and as turned a hullabaloo in the political, religion and educational quarters, because of its purported unification of two religions- Christianity and Islam. While liberalists are popular supporters of the subject, core religionists and individuals with religio-political sentiments kick against it.

Church-Mosque

            While it is true that trinity and monotheism cannot fit in the same box, the fact is that the subject does not compel a child to take teachings of the other religion. Far from a total fusion, RNV is a subject with different units (i.e. IRS apart, CRS apart). With this clear, one would wonder why necessitous cry against the subject by Islamic scholars and educationists or at least why should it wake the Islamisation myth?

            There are reasons to be alarmed, grumble and complain but it is only unfortunate that many only pick up keypads against the wrong reason. Our reasons are worrisome, justifiable and erudite ones. RNV may accomplish some of the goal of its creation but there is no doubt that not only will it backfire on some important essentials of some Nigerians’ life, it also uncovered certain crooked and unmerited lapses of Nigeria Educational authorities.

            The content and structure of Islamic studies part of the RNV has shown clearly that the curriculum lacks the input of Islamic religion experts. If there has been, there should not have been such a slim down on the Islamic studies content such that necessary lessons with lofty goals and objectives have been substituted for an handful of some lessons a child may gain on his outing to a weekend Islamic course. Should this be at a time when many Muslim parents no longer patronize Non-formal Islamic schools, but instead make their kids depend on the content of the formal school Islamic studies curriculum?

            The absence of Islamic religion experts in curriculum planning may not be convincible before the eyes catches up with some unforgivable mistakes that appears in the NERDC published curriculum. At this, the curriculum does not only disparage Islamic studies, it rubbishes simple terminologies in the subject, say a topic “qayammumk” in the middle basic, it takes a breath in to decode that “tayammum” was intended. I had guessed it was written under duress but my friends said no! If an excuse of typo is given, it is not believable to say an expert actually proofread that.

            Like rubbishing the wordings in the content of the IRS part is not enough, RNV set to reduce the benefits of the formal Islamic education. Missing a lot in basic classes will result to losing interest in secondary and tertiary level. A Muslim needs a whole lot of knowledge to practice his religion but unfortunately religion and national values fails to offer such.

            The ill side of RNV is not limited on the final consumers of the curriculum as the teachers have a share of it too. Many schools will prefer employing a teacher to teach all components of RNV to employing a teacher for each units. Meaning Muslim teachers will take CRS and vice versa if the school management is not “nice enough” to hire a teacher for the IRS/CRS units. In a case where the school is nice, most likely the teacher will be paid as a unit teacher and not like other subject teachers. Thus, religion teachers will end up unemployed or as half-teachers.

            To say this write up is biased towards the Islamic studies may be true, reason being that; except to blackmail a Muslim-led government that is innocent of the curriculum review, Christians do not speak on this issue since the inauguration, not even the leadership of CAN. One would guess, they care not about the religion curriculum in school since their denominational Sunday schools and bible study classes suffices for all they need to know about their religion. As for a Nigeria Muslim child, he struggles with a surah a year in the RNV curriculum while his equals are celebrated as hufaaz (memorisers) in some other countries.

            Everyone is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock, our grumble and shout will no way amend the perplexing but crucial situation. We need to assist ourselves, our posterities and the society against this raid on Islamic tenets. Islamic authority should query what suggest to be an absence of Islamic religion experts who are deserving stakeholders in curriculum development. Parents and guardians should also be conscious of what their children and wards are being taught in school and through PTA platforms ensure they are being taught the Islamic studies unit of the RNV by competent teachers. To be fair, the Nigeria educational authority should make the 2 religions stand out as separate subjects the same way Nigerian languages are.

            Unmistakably, the school viz. the curriculum has little to offer as far as moral upbringing is concern. Thus parents should give their children the correct Islamic orientation by teaching them and enrolling them to madaris. All these done, controversy will rest for understanding to take over.

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