Have IRS and CRS been removed from the curriculum?

by Alexander O. Onukwue

There have been reports that the teaching of Islamic Religious Studies and Christian Religious Studies have been removed from the curriculum of secondary school students.

This follows the protest by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) over the replacement of Christian Education in schools with Islamic Studies. The leadership of CAN reportedly besieged the Presidential Villa on the 14th of June in protest of the removal of the Christian item on the educational curriculum of secondary schools, according to ThisDay.

Samson Ayokunle, President of CAN, led the complaining team to the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, demanding explanation for the submerging of the erstwhile stand-alone CRS into a new subject with Civic Education. On the other hand, IRK had been paired with the Arabic Studies and French.

Ayokunle’s complaint was predicated on the bother that, with virtually no French teachers available, the only option that would be left to most students would be to take up the study of Islamic/Arabic Studies.

The popular claim on social media at this time regarding the said removal of religious studies has been quickly attributed to the Buhari Government. However, a report by the International Centre for Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) found that the curriculum in question had taken effect from the beginning of 2015 – in the twilight months of the Jonathan administration – as a brainchild of the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) which is a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Education.

In effect, if the curriculum aims at discarding religious education or foisting one particular religious education on Nigerian students, it cannot be totally blamed on the Buhari administration.

The real question though is: Does the new pairing of the subjects amount to a removal of Religious education in Nigeria? For more clarity, the aim of the Ministry of Education in going about this curriculum review was to cut down on the number of subjects being offered in line with what the ICIJ reports as “international best practices”. This led to previously exclusively taught subjects like CRS, IRS, Civic Education, Social Studies and Security Education being brought under one umbrella as ‘Religion and National Values’ (RNV).

From all available reports, CRS and IRS are still retained in the curriculum of secondary schools. It can be presumed that, in the mind of the propagators, the intention is to foster inter-religious dialogue from an earlier stage of life amongst school children.

That said, the antagonists believe this could encumber the focus of students on grasping the full values of their individual religions at that early stage. The curriculum has been received negatively by persons from the Christian leadership as it more or less coerces persons of differing Faiths to have to study and learn the Faith other than theirs against their will.

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