For the last couple of months, the Christian Religion Studies (CRS) and Islamic Religious studies (IRS) controversy has raged on with stakeholders resenting the idea that both subjects were lumped together with Civic Education, Social Studies, and Security Education in the reviewed basic education curriculum done in 2013 – with implementation to start from 2014.
Now the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) as directed by the Federal Government has disarticulated the Christian Religious Studies (CRS) and Islamic Religious Studies (IRS) from the umbrella subject listing of Religion and National Values meaning that the subjects will once again be taught separately.
Stakeholders have lauded this move saying it’s the right one as it is better than the ambiguity that came with the non-inclusion of CRS from the list of subjects taught at senior secondary level from September.
To clear the air, the Executive Secretary, NERDC, Prof Ismail Junaid said in a statement that the component subjects under Religion and National Values were taught separately.
He also stated that CRS had not been scrapped as had been reported in some places.
He said “The claims peddled on social media platforms and a national daily are speculative, false and unfounded, specifically as regards the Religion and National Values Curriculum.
“The Management of NERDC hereby reiterates categorically that the subject offerings (Civic Education, Social Studies, Christian Religious Knowledge, Islamic Studies and Security Education) under the Religion and National Values Curriculum are distinct and taught separately on the time table.
“In this Curriculum, no child should be coerced or compelled to learn or be taught in school any religious studies not relating to the belief system professed by the child and his/her parents.
“CRK is still taught in schools; as a separate distinct subject with the accompanying Teachers’ Guide. There is no subject in the Nigerian School Curriculum called Islamic Arabic Studies nor anywhere in the world as being speculated.”
This was unsuccessful in settling matters as National Association of Parents Teachers Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and many other groups still wanted a return to the familiar which was to teach both separately.
To this end, the House of Representatives. rejected the policy on the ground that it negated the constitution. This was followed by the National Council on Education (NCE) ordering NERDC to effect changes in the curriculum such that the two subjects stand alone again.
This decision was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the Ministerial Session of the 62nd NCE meeting held in Kano and presided over by the Education Minister, Malam Adamu Adamu.
It reads; “At the ministerial technical session, Council reiterated its decision at the 61st NCE meeting of September, 2016 in Abuja, that Christian Religious Studies (CRS) and Islamic Studies (IS) be separated from Religion and National Values and handled as stand-alone subjects. Council further stated that Christian Religious Studies is a core and compulsory subject for Christian students while Islamic Studies is a core and compulsory subject for Muslim students at the basic and secondary education levels. Council regarded the controversy surrounding the matter as misdirected and unwarranted.”