Keep the study of History in Nigerian schools

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Keep the study of History in Nigerian schools

This petition had 869 supporters
Omei Bongos Ikwue started this petition to Nigerian ministry of Education

When the Nigerian government decided to remove history from school curriculums the primary reasons it gave were that there are neither jobs for graduates of history, nor sufficient teachers for students of history.

Of all their subjects, secondary school students rank Mathematics, English and Biology most highly because passing these subjects is necessary for admission into universities. History, Geography and English Literature are ranked lowest. Students rate history so low because, according to them, “society itself does not rate history highly."

Science programs enjoy support and many employers don’t favor History graduates. 

Still, it would seem that history students and teachers have a limited appreciation for the purpose of studying history. History teaching methods have traditionally focused on memorizing names and dates of events, without placing them in context or evaluating links between events in the past and our roles in the present.

History completes our existence. People are made up of their past and their present. We all comprise a lifetime of habits, beliefs, doubts, routines and ideologies.

Besides, each of us comes from people who existed in the past, living and interacting in ancient societies. History tells of the emergence of social structures and traditions. But more importantly, history tells of the emergence of the values, struggles and victories of our predecessors. It tells of the ingenious innovations and mechanisms they employed in order to outwit and to overcome the limitations of ancient times.

History helps us understand change and preservation.
It allows us understand the processes that produced our current society. Every convenience of the present is an improvement upon something from history. The car is an improvement on the horse and carriage; computers are an improvement upon typewriters; and radio an improvement upon town criers. Because these things were preserved, new generations were able to study and improve them, while conserving their basic ideas.

On the other hand, every breakdown of structure or value is a result of its neglect in the past. Our devaluation of history, which is in many ways abstract, is directly linked to our devaluation of physical structures: the Railroads, the crumbling Alafin’s palace, libraries, universities and, worst of all, our principles. The vintage is valueless. Where there is no preservation, there can be no study of the old and no means to improve upon it.

In a March 12, 2014 Vanguard newspaper editorial, the writer states that, “When we obliterate history, we should also destroy our artifacts, burn our museums, monuments and heritage sites.” And to that I add if we destroy history, we should also destroy our grandparents and great-grandparents, burn all the biographies and old photographs—because they embody the history that we cannot physically experience—the sacrifices, the labours, the hours of thought and study, or even the hours of plotting and scheming, that went in to shaping our present lives.
History helps us understand our identity.
Countries might be diverse, but they usually have a persisting, thread of unification. In Nigeria that thread is detachment. 
Value and pride are replaced with shame and dissociation. Because although we have heroes and heroines of the past, we do not know enough about them to share in their victories and keep us devoted to our citizenship.

To remove the study of history from schools is to declare it worthless; and because we all owe our existence to history, this move also declares us worthless. Let's help Nigerians appreciate the purpose of history. Keep history in schools!!

*Photo credit: Nigeria Nostalgia Project

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