Don’t Scrap Civic Education Programme,ICE tells Presidency
Adebayo maintained that “Clearly Civic Education is central to our country’s future, and addresses the challenges of deepening democracy and our national identity crisis. We are therefore requesting that Civic Education be allowed to remain a distinct subject on its own.
“In addition,” he said,”strenuous efforts should be made to build the capacity of teachers, develop and produce adequate teaching materials, and periodically review its curriculum content to capture contemporary challenges that the Country may face. In this regard, we note with great appreciation your inclusion of Security education as a thematic area. It is suggested that this thematic area be further expanded to include Peace Building. In essence, the thematic area will now be referred to as Security and Peace education. The two areas are mutually inclusive and they will capture the current concern for Security and Peace in the country. This will also address the call by the First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan for the introduction of Peace education in our school system. She made this call last year at a Stakeholder’s Conference on Peace which she organized in her capacity as the current Chairperson of African First Ladies Peace Union.”
Read the full text of his letter below:
12th March, 2012.
Dr Ike Neliaku
The Senior Special Assistant (Administration),
Office of the First Lady of Nigeria,
Aso Rock Villa,
CIVIC EDUCATION, CITIZENS SOCIALIZATION, THE CHALLENGES OF BOKO HARAM etc AND THE REVISED BASIC EDUCATION CURRICULUM
We write in connection with the above and to formally react to the Guardian Newspaper publication of Friday February 23, 2012 p.45 (copy attached) on the on-going review of the country’s Basic Education Curriculum. According to the publication, the current review of Nigeria’s Basic Education Curriculum has merged Religious Studies, Social Studies and Civic Education together into a new subject to be called ‘Religious and Values Education’. The merger of these subjects according to the Guardian Newspaper was hinged on the need to reduce the work load of pupils. The Executive Secretary was indeed quoted as saying that the ‘review was a response to the recent feedback on the implementation of BEC (suggesting)’ an overload in terms of subjects offerings at the primary and JSS levels’ adding that the presidential education summit of 2010 ‘recommended that the number of subjects offered at this level should be reduced to between six and thirteen in line with international best practices’.
We wish to commend you for the wonderful work of the Council since you assumed duties as the Executive Secretary. You have provided effective leadership and direction to this important national Institution. In addition, you have raised the profile of the Institution internationally as a foremost specialized research Agency. The on-going review of the Basic Education curriculum is an aspect of your leadership responsiveness to public opinion. These no doubt underscore your achievements as a great scholar and a selfless public servant. It is indeed for these reasons that we are writing to request the Council to take a second look at the merger of Civic Education with Religious Studies and Social Studies.
As you may know, the initiative to introduce Civic Education into Nigeria’s school system as a compulsory subject began shortly after the 2003 General Elections. It was taken at a Forum organized under the United Nations Election Support Programme. That Forum was attended by a number of Government Agencies, Civil Society Organizations and the International donor Community. Civic Education was identified as a panacea to the observed deficit in the electoral behavior of Nigerians and critical to our national effort to deepen democracy. It was agreed that it should be taught as a subject distinct from Social Studies in order to achieve the desired goal. You will recall that it was previously a section under Social Studies.
The National Technical Committee on Civic Education (NCCE) was subsequently inaugurated under the chairmanship of the undersigned in 2003 to work out the modalities for its introduction. That Committee comprised of the Federal Ministry of Education, the Universal Basic Education Commission, NERDC, NOA, the UNDP, EU, etc and a number of civil society organizations like the CLO, TMG, etc. I wish to place on record the fact that your organization actively and positively participated in the work of the Committee. A major task at the Committee was to develop an intellectual source material for Civic Education taking into consideration the peculiar socio-economic, political and leadership challenges facing the country. A team of Nigerian experts funded by the USAID through its PACT-ADVANCE project and the IFES developed the ‘Source Book on Civic Education’. The former President Chief Obasanjo indeed showed a lot of interest in the work of the Committee. The Presidential directive to re-introduce Civic Education as a distinct subject was based on national consensus and the availability of intellectual materials for teaching the subject. ‘The Source Book on Civic Education’ was presented to the Nigerian public in July 2009 further to the directive of Late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua.
Essence and the Ghanaian Example
To be sure, Civic Education is simply citizens socialization and its overall impact is to deepen democracy, promote unity and to imbue in future generations of Nigerians a passion for and selfless service to our motherland. This is against the backdrop of the increasing and worrisome activities of centrifugal forces that are bent on pulling the country apart. The issue of leadership deficit was an important factor considered when concerted national efforts were being made to re-introduce Civic Education. It was felt that sustained teaching of Civic Education in our schools system will address the problem of poor leadership and the observed disconnect between the average Nigerian and her/his civic responsibilities to Nigeria. Ghana was used as a bench mark. Ghana raised the status of Civic Education to a constitutional level through its National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) which enjoys the same status as its electoral body. The Commission is a statutory body guaranteed under the Ghanaian Constitution. The teaching of Civic Education has been compulsory for over 30 years in Ghana. The impact of this has been phenomenal and it has positively impacted on every facet of Ghanaian society. It needs to be emphasized that Civic Education is a core component of education for most of the mature democracies. The same is the case in all emerging democracies such as Nigeria.
There is clearly no doubt that there is a national consensus on the importance of Civic Education to our democracy and national development. In fact, you may recall that the Presidential directive, which was the highest point of the concerted efforts to introduce Civic Education, was given during the National Summit on Education in October 2006. That directive was given in response to demands by stakeholders at the Summit. That was also the last official function attended by His Eminence the Late Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammed Maccido. He died in the ADC flight that was to return him to Sokoto after the Summit. Indeed, at every forum to discuss Nigeria’s problems and identity crisis, there has always been an agreement that, Civic Education properly taught over a long period, could help address many of our national challenges. Of course we are aware of the difficulty of merging subjects into a manageable number in order to reduce the pupils work load. However, given the importance of citizen’s socialization at a time of national difficulties such as the current Boko Haram and other threats to our unity, we think Civic Education should be taught separately as a distinct subject on its own.
It is important to disclose that Civic Education in schools is an aspect of a robust Programme which aims to address the problem of dysfunctional behavior and electoral challenges through community civic empowerment, a pilot of which is currently taking place in Kaduna State
Clearly Civic Education is central to our country’s future, and addresses the challenges of deepening democracy and our national identity crisis. We are therefore requesting that Civic Education be allowed to remain a distinct subject on its own. In addition, strenuous efforts should be made to build the capacity of teachers, develop and produce adequate teaching materials, and periodically review its curriculum content to capture contemporary challenges that the Country may face. In this regard, we note with great appreciation your inclusion of Security education as a thematic area. It is suggested that this thematic area be further expanded to include Peace Building. In essence, the thematic area will now be referred to as Security and Peace education. The two areas are mutually inclusive and they will capture the current concern for Security and Peace in the country. This will also address the call by the First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan for the introduction of Peace education in our school system. She made this call last year at a Stakeholder’s Conference on Peace which she organized in her capacity as the current Chairperson of African First Ladies Peace Union.
While we look forward to your response to this letter, we also look forward to collaborating with your Council on any effort to socialize Nigerians.
Please accept our highest regard.
Dr Lanre Adebayo
- Principal Private Secretary to the President.
- Chairman, Senate Committee on Education.
- Chairman, House of Representative Committee on Education.
- Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
- The Hon. Minister, Federal Ministry of Education.
- The Chairman, Governors Forum.
- Senior Special Assistant to the First Lady of Nigeria.
- Director General, National Orientation Agency.
- The President, Nigerian Union of Teachers.
- The President, Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools of Nigeria.
- Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission