The House of Representatives yesterday waded into the controversial introduction of National Values/Civic Education in school curriculum, which requires children to be taught Islamic Religious Knowledge and Christian Religious Knowledge as compulsory subjects, irrespective of their religious beliefs.
In the previous order, IRK and CRK were taught as independent subjects, leaving Christian students with the choice of taking CRK and Muslims, the IRK.
But a new policy of the Federal Ministry of Education billed to take full effect in September, has replaced the old order with a new curriculum, combining the two subjects and making civic education or national values compulsory.
On Tuesday, however, lawmakers opposed the policy on the grounds that it would not only confuse children, but also deny them and their parents the right to a religion of their choice.
Members said much as civic education or national values could be taught in schools, they should be clearly separated from religion.
The House, which was presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yusuff Lasun, took the decision after exhaustively debating a motion moved by a member from Plateau State, Beni Lar.
Lar, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Science and Technology, specifically mentioned that the policy was in breach of Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which “makes Nigeria a secular state, and therefore, religion should be separated from national values.”
Lar’s motion read partly, “Under the previous Secondary School Curriculum, which brought a lot of discontent, Civic Education was not a compulsory subject and religious education was taught as Islamic Religious Knowledge and Christian Religious Knowledge, both of which were optional subjects.
“The House notes that the Federal Ministry of Education introduced the revised curriculum without due consultation with parents and stakeholders and the new nine-year Basic Education Curriculum on Religion and National Values consolidated religious education and civic education under National Values and made Civic Education a compulsory subject for the SSCE.”
Many members, including the Majority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila; Chairman, House Committee on Federal Judiciary, Mr. Aminu Shagari; Mr. Johnson Agbonayinma; Mr. Ben Nwankwo; and Mr. Orker Jev, also quoted sections 38 and 10 of the constitution to buttress their opposition to the new policy.
Explaining the import of Section 38, Gbajabiamila, a lawyer, told the House that no Nigerian child could be forced to study or practise any religion other than the direction given to them by their parents.