What Nigerian children are missing by not studying history – historian Chigudu explains
NEWSMAN, Abuja – The study of history helps us understand why the present is what it is and it equally helps us prepare for the future. Knowledge of history for children cannot be overlooked, as they are in fact the future of a nation.
According to Theophilus Tanko Chigudu, a research consultant who holds a first degree and a masters degree in History from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, “it is important that every child is taught history, because it helps them to appreciate themselves, their origin and heritage”.
In a chat with NEWSMAN, Chigudu explains the need for children to know their history because according to him: “History tells you the story of how your nation, city, or community came to be everything that it is. It tells you where your ancestors came from and tells you who they were. Most importantly of all, it gives you the ability to spot (and appreciate) the legacies you may have inherited from them.”
“To understand who you are, you need to develop a sense of self. A large part of that is learning where you fit into the story of your country or the global community in the grand scheme of things“, Chigudu explains
-Implications of not knowing History-
Nigeria, during the 2009/2010 academic session, removed the study of history from primary and secondary schools’ curriculum. Official reasons given then were, among others, that students shun the subject; only a few jobs were available for history graduates, and that there is a dearth of history teachers. Lamentably, Nigeria today has no official account of the 1967 to 1970 civil war.
Seven years after, the government decided that the decision was wrong, and in 2017, the Nigeria Education Research and Development Council (NERDC) announced it was set to reintroduce history as a subject, beginning from the 2018/2019 academic session, a Guardian report stated.
The implication of removing history from primary and secondary schools curriculum according to Chigudu, “spelt only doom”.
“It means a total denial of who we are. A lot of students between when it was removed and reintroduced lost a touch with their history and that is why it became easy for students and young ones generally to have a problem with other Nigerians. History in the past served as that medium that taught students they were one.”
He added that “the fact that history as a subject has been reintroduced means a lot. Students can now be taught about their history and country in general.”
-Importance of knowing history-
There are so many ways history can help a child, and indeed every individual.
History according to Chigudu “is not just an essential introduction to your own country, ethnic heritage, and ancestry. It’s also a valuable tool when it comes to understanding those who are different from us.”
“It helps us develop a better understanding of the world. children and adults through history learn more about happenings around the globe. History helps us learn to understand other people. It helps us understand ourselves.
To understand who you are, you need to develop a sense of self. A large part of that is learning where you fit into the story of your country or the global community in the grand scheme of things.
He added that History gives us the tools we need to be decent citizens, and makes us better decision makers. Good citizens are always informed citizens, and no one can consider himself to be an informed citizen without a working knowledge of history.
-The way forward-
Events in the last few years have shown that lack of a reasonable grasp of history will only widen the gulf of animosity, and as history keeps repeating itself in some aspects of Nigerian life, it just goes to show the poor state of historical knowledge amongst Nigerians, especially young Nigerians.
History should be properly taught in schools (primary, secondary and tertiary institutions). In tertiary institutions it shouldn’t just be taught as a degree course but core courses in every department. It should be made compulsory on every school and course.Chigudu advised.
The research consultant further advised that it is pertinent that “parents also make it a point of duty to always read history books to their children. This step should be encouraged. Primary schools should have history teachers for every class.”
He finally suggested that rich history books should be made available in the libraries, in schools all over the country.
Also, a submission by Dr. Akin Alao, professor of Legal History at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife says “a country without a sense of history is a soulless, country. It could safely be said that many of the challenges facing state and nation-building efforts in Nigeria are a result of the neglect of history.”