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The New Nigeria School Curriculum Review: Alienating Arabic And Muslim Students

15 November 2009

By Jibril Idris

Educational system in Nigeria has come under series of attacks from various angles either from academics and non-academics as well. These criticisms give ways to different reforms right from Pre- independence to Post-Colonial era, notably, Universal Primary Education (U.P.E) to under both the military rulers of Obasanjo and Babangida respectively. Though under Obasanjo in his second coming as a civilian president tried unsuccessfully to reform the present reform is suppose to acts as a replacement for any system that is not working. Is this the case with Nigeria? I don’t think so. Most reforms in the history of Nigeria were either partly implemented or not implemented at all.

With the failure of president Obasanjo to reform education sector .on the 8th of November 2007, the Federal Government of Nigeria launched a new curriculum known as New Basic Education Curriculum for primary and junior secondary schools. The executive secretary of Nigerian Education Research and Development Council (NERDC), Professor Godswill Obioma said “the new curriculum seeks to correct the abnormalities of the former one which was lacking in the areas of human capacity development, eradication of poverty, and the country’s quest for total emancipation as an independent entity”. Is the new curriculum driven by patriotism as the professor would want us to believe?

Under the new system, the structure is divided into three levels of lower, middle and upper basic education curriculum. The lower level is for primary 1-3, the middle level is for primary 4-6 while the upper level is for J.S.S 1-3, in each of three levels there are about twelve compulsory core subjects with one elective subject. English studies, Mathematics, Social Studies, Health and Physical Education, Religious Studies as well as French are among the compulsory subjects while Business Studies and Arabic are relegated to the back-waters and to compensate each other as elective.

The new curriculum is effective from 2009/2010 academic session. The born of contention is the way and manner the new curriculum will alienate Muslim students completely from the scheme of things and rendered Arabic teachers less important from our schools. We all know that Muslim comprises of more than 90 percent of students that partake in Arabic as elective in our schools even though the subject concern is purely a language like any languages in the world. In the old curriculum, you either choose French as elective subject or Arabic for which both are languages. With the new system in place, French for whom historically we have no any cultural ties whatsoever in any form or shape is now elevated to the same status as English and mathematics in our education system to detriments of our indigenous languages like: Yoruba, Ibo, Hausa, Tiv and host of others .Does this sound as a quest for our country‘s total emancipation as an independent entity, our Dear Professor?

Now Arabic cannot enjoy the same status as its French cousin, where does it stand since there is no language partner? According to the new curriculum, Arabic is partnered with business studies (the mother of Accounting, Econonomics and Business Administration) for which business studies is no longer as important as French in our schools. The big question is, who is at the receiving end? Certainly from the look of things Muslim students and poor Arabic teachers are. Reasons are not far-fetched. As I mentioned earlier, Muslim students choose Arabic more than any religious groups in the country. For instance, if a Muslim student with the new scheme of things decided to fore-go business studies as a subject and chooses Arabic as an elective, definitely that student is loosing out completely from either becoming an Accountant, Economist or Business Administrator for which Business Studies comprises of all the elements mentioned above. If on the other hand, such student decided to pick business studies in place of Arabic, has help in all honesty without suspecting what his/her action will cause, in eradicating the foremost source knowledge in the history of Nigeria that ‘s Arabic and rendering Arabic teachers and anything associated with Arabic less important thereby facing lay-off. Dear Professor, where does the eradication of poverty stands?

Muslim students and Arabic teachers are in dilemma, we either go back to status quo or the people concern with formulation of such policies must come out with modalities that would be of beneficial to both parties as per as Nigeria is concern for our existence as a country free of bias. Because this is not the first attempt and I suspect is not going to be the last to phase out Arabic in our national lives. Remember Nigeria Defence Academy(NDA) where Arabic department is now history, Arabic inscription in our naira notes and now our educational sector is about to suffer the same fate? Please, the federal government should try as much as possible not to make “Boko Haram” again by alienating Arabic and Muslim students for which Boko is Halal as per as they are concern.



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