By Sunny Ikhioya
THE Sun news of 5th July 2017 had a Headline; “Nigeria in trouble as production of gasoline cars ends in 2025”. According to the verdict of a Stanford University economist: “leading automobile manufacturers in Asia, Europe and the United States, to discontinue the manufacturing of petrol powered cars, buses and trucks in the next eight years.” The report went further; “…the entire market for land transport will switch to electronic powered transport system…this will lead to the collapse of oil prices and the demise of the petroleum industry, Nigeria’s key foreign exchange earner.” Along the same direction, Volvo cars manufacturer in Sweden just announced that they will discontinue the production of gas powered vehicles by 2019, falling in line with Tesla.
While all of these are going our, our own Aliko Dangote, Nigeria and Africa’s richest man is busy building one of the biggest petroleum refineries in the world, here in Lagos-Nigeria, with very scarce and hard earned cash resources that could have been expended on more futuristic projects- that is; if the powers that be and those in control of the country’s policies allow it to be. If our researchers and planners of our education policies are in touch with happenings in the outside world, they would have been thinking of tailoring our education to fit the needs of our society and for our future survival.
As it is presently, oil is not the solution to our future survival, that is why the oil producing communities must “make hay while the sun shines” because oil has no future as we can see from present world developments. Members of the Nigerian Educational Research and Development council NERDC, must bow their heads in shame for the confusion that they have brought to our educational system. While other countries are making progress with their education reforms, Nigeria’s is mired in controversy. We are busy fighting over religion and ethnicity because some people in position of power have decided to put their selfish and parochial interests over the common good.
The unfortunate situation is that, supposedly well informed individuals are trying to defend the absurd. The simple question is; why do we always love to create confusion where there seem to be none? Why not let things be, especially as it concerns religious matters? The unfortunate fate that has befallen this nation is that we have wasted valuable time and resources to promote religious and ethnic differences, instead of investing heavily in researches that will transform our technological and industrial growth to the standard of the first world. Why can’t we just allow religion to be what it is, and that is; a private affair between man and his creator. Why don’t we allow religion to be what it is? That is; a matter of choice for the individual. Why must we use our position to over ride our sentiments over others? When it comes to the setting up of policies, any decision that tend to favour one religion over another must be avoided. The NERDC must therefore allow Christian Religious Studies CRS, to stand on its own in the other category of the curriculum like the Arabic language, and its study must be by choice. This will end all of the needless controversies surrounding it but, if we keep defending it like the essay of one Pastor Yakub Jonah in the social media, the controversy will fester to a boiling point. The answer is simple: allow the Christians to study what they want as it concerns their religion.
This is what the defenders of the policy are saying: “In 2012, the Federal government approved a curriculum reform aimed at rationalising the subject offered in public schools in line with global practices and standards and the Nigerian educational research and development council NERDC, came up with a-9year curriculum with subjects arraigned into groups, producing a maximum of 12 subjects, at the lower basic (prim1-3), 9 subjects at the middle basic( prim4-6) and 10 subjects at the upper basic ; (Jss1-3)”. There is also a footnote added: “English, Mathematics, French language, Arabic language and Business Studies (at the upper basic) are the only subjects that stand on their own. All remaining 17 subjects in the curriculum have been respectively listed under various subject groupings”. The Christians are saying that; if Arabic language, which is otherwise the language of Islam, can stand alone, Christian religious studies should also be made to stand alone without any tainting. So what is wrong with that request? It is unfortunate that when such policies are made, they use ” so called” Christians to execute the plans and defend it.
Presently, accusing fingers are pointed to Goodluck Jonathan and Nyesom Wike. It does not matter who initiated it, the policy is distasteful to the Christians and their views must be respected. The point is fairness to all. If they want to include Islamic religion, which in a way, is Arabic language, as a stand alone subject, no problem, nobody will dispute that but the Christians must be allowed their wish. And by the way, why will it take a Mallam Adamu to be in charge for such policies to be implemented.
If the Jonathan administration wanted it implemented, it should have been done before his exit from office. When we say we want a proper direction and focus for our education system, we mean in the areas of technological development, science agriculture and medical researches, the type that will move this nation to the level of the developed countries, not to tinker with religion. That curriculum must be corrected now.
*Mr. Ikhioya, www.southsouthecho.com