Of History as a subject, several authors, historians and philosophers have said a lot of things. Suffice to say here as some of these sayings and quotations, “History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future by (John F. Kennedy).” Furthermore, this has been reinforced by David C. McCullough “History is a navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are” this is to lay foundation for this discussions.
It is important for me to recall that some of the core requirements in every American College or University for anybody who wants to obtain any type of degree or diploma in any discipline are that such a student at any level must have as its foundational course, the American History and the American Government. In addition, such a student must add the History of the particular state where he or she is pursuing the degree or diploma course.
For example, I attended the University of Texas at Arlington in the United States of America. The first set of courses I pursued as a freshman (a new student), were as follows: American Government, American History, Texas History, Sociology, English, Basic Mathematics, Biology, Economics and any foreign language: Spanish, French, etc. These courses must give any foreign student the total number of 12credit load which was the minimum number of load which every foreign student must carry In order to justify his or her visa requirements. That Is to say, at every semester or term, every foreign student who went to the United States with a student visa must continue to carry a minimum of 12 credit load for every semester until the student graduates. This would be the condition for the regular renewal of a student visa every year else the student will be deported without any mercy.
For every foreign student in the second semester/term, the next set of courses must also include: The American History and Government and History of the State where the student is attending the College or University. For clarity, a College or University can award degrees in various disciplines. However, only Universities can offer higher degrees such as Masters or Doctorate. In fact, as a student in the State of Texas, I offered six credit loads of every semester in the first 2 years – six credit hour of American History, American Government and Texas History.” It was during this study that I knew the meaning of six flags over Texas which meant six different powers that ruled Texas. These are Spain, France, Mexico, Confederate States of America, The Republic of Texas, and America itself.
It was during the pursuit of my degree course that I came to learn a lot about the State of Texas, its historical past punctured with chequered history, wars and conflicts. In fact, without such knowledge acquired from the studies of American and Texas History and Governments, a student will definitely not fit in at all. The point that is being made here is to show that every degree offered to any student must be based on that American System of Education referred to as a Liberal Education. This means that for one to obtain a degree in any discipline in any American College or University, a student must have received a combination of credits in several disciplines to make such a student “Liberally Educated.” That was indeed the foundation of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka when it was established a couple of years ago. The aim is to make every graduate a well rounded graduate who can participate in general discussions when engaged. Because the American degree must include six-credit-hour load in American History – one year, that is two semesters. Six-credit-hour load of American Government, six-credit-hour load of State Government, six-credit-hour load of Sociology or Anthropology or Philosophy, six-credit-hour load of Economics, six-credit-hour load of Mathematics, six-credit-hour load of Foreign Languages and of course, the master of them all, six-credit-hour load of English Language not Literature.
It is after a student has accumulated these credits on these inter-disciplinary and of course within two years that such a student could be allowed to proceed to his third year when he must have become a sophomore. It is during the second, third and fourth years that a student could concentrate on his major disciplines of whatever description – Political Science, Public Administration, Mathematics, English, Mass Communication/ Journalism, etc.
The point that is being made here is to show the importance which the American Educational System attaches to the study of American History and Government. It is important that the knowledge of American History and Government begins from the Primary and Secondary which Americans refer to as Junior and Senior History School. American Educational System centres on a twelve year structure which terminates with twelve grades which is known here as SS3.
Here at home, one is surprised to hear that under this regime, with Professor Anwuka, a Professor of Higher Education trained in the United States as a minister of State, the country was stunned with the information that History has been dropped from the Secondary Education Curriculum, shocking and indeed alarming. To many educated and enlightened minds, this move depicts a display of core ignorance of the knowledge of the importance of History and Government in the life of any nation. In fact, if only to be modest, anybody who initiated that move for the removal of History in the Secondary Education Curriculum must have been a product of Middle Age Education or basically, brain-washed in the Curriculum of Boko Haram which says, “Western Education is BANZAR, useless and worthless.” What a country!
How could a German child be denied of the knowledge of the German History and its myriads of Historical events that took place including the divided Germany and the horrifying reign of Adolph Hitler? Or how could students in Fascist countries be denied of the consequences of inconclusive repressive governments and outright despotism, dictatorship including those ruled with the most draconian laws and decrees? How could a Nigerian child be denied the knowledge of the sequences of chains of colonialism, different types of administrations and more importantly, “how Nigeria came to be, and what are the core roots of several challenges which we are facing today, including the thirty months of civil war which no Historian or History could obliterate no matter the level of prejudice, ignorance or bias?
As expected, there were unstoppable criticisms of such removal of History from the Secondary Education Syllabus. The pressure was so persistent, particularly from Intellectuals and Educationists from the Southern part of this Country. Fortunately, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu and those who gave him that type of advice in the first place harkened to the pressure and last year reinstated History in the Secondary Education Syllabus to the pleasure of many or all and sundry.
Let it be known to all minds in this country that nobody should toil with the Education of our children no matter their tribe. Because if our children know the core content of Nigerian History and Government, they would have in themselves the thinking of the process of putting this Country right. Because according to the over used but never implemented axiom, “our children are the leaders of tomorrow.” According to one author, when will our tomorrow begin?”
In fact, in some fascist countries and communists regimes, the knowledge of History and common knowledge of guerilla warfare are the basic training given to every citizen including market women, artisans and even the down trodden.
Thank God such obnoxious policy has been reversed and reviewed. And those who did it need no commendation at all because the thought of it in the first place was reprehensible. To delete History from Secondary Education Curriculum was in itself a “Primitive Thought.”
Finally, let me make this final quotation about History. According to Lech Walesa, “He who puts out his hand to stop the wheel of History will have his fingers crushed.”
This is highly structured to those Ultra-conservative elements in our society. A word is enough for the wise!!