04Sir: The above title was first used by an English historian Richard Evans, as a title of his 307 paged book published in the year 1997. In that book, at a time of deep scepticism about our ability to learn anything from the past, even to recapture any serious sense of past cultures and ways of life, Evans shows us why history is both necessary and explains the deadly political dangers of losing a historical perspective on the way we live our lives.
Rose Ezewu, the newly appointed Delta State Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, in her first day in office, noted that there was need to critically appraise the curriculum development in order to encourage teaching and learning of History in schools.
In June 2019, the Federal Government had through Mr. Sonny Echono, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, announced that all primary and secondary schools across the country were to immediately implement the teaching of history as a stand-alone subject from the next academic calendar.
But controversy still surrounds the Federal Government’s decision to remove history from the country’s basic education curriculum. Going by reports, the removal, which became effective from the 2009/2010 academic session, was premised on students shunning the subject, thinning job prospects for history graduates, and dearth of history teachers.
The world is in agreement that some knowledge of history is useful to the scientist, the economist or the student of literature or philosophy on the grounds that no science or art is static. History is the reconstruction of the past; by, and for those who are living the life of those who are dead. It is a tool of all disciplines and the key to wisdom. It is a presupposition of history that man is capable of profiting from the experience of his predecessors.
Many Nigerians have consequently argued that allowing history in Nigerian schools (Primary and secondary) could be a possible escape from multi-faceted challenges bedeviling the country.
Also, apart from time-honoured saying that any nation, group or individual that fails to absorb lessons from history, is, in the historian’s phrase doomed to repeat the mistakes, the usefulness of history in human existence cannot be overemphasized as it helped the students (youths) to ‘take in vast amounts of information, teach them how to write and communicate those ideas effectively; expose the students to accept the fact that many problems have no clear-cut answer while helping to cultivate flexibility and a willingness to change their minds as they go about solving problems in whatever field they ultimately choose.
Today, our inability as a people to frankly investigate our past via history, to enable us to correct our backward attitudes developed during the colonial era contributes to why we are not marching forward but groping and stumbling, divided and confused.
Jerome-Mario Utomi is the programme coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos.