SUBJECT OVERLOAD IN NIGERIAN SCHOOLS

By Nkem Iloeje-Agu

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I’m doing this post because I find that certain things which we may ordinarily take for granted and accept on the assumption of them being given and common-place, are anything, but.

Nigeria is blessed with a huge and ever-increasing number of private schools, which help complement the efforts of government to guarantee that we educate our children, and create a one-hundred-percent literate nation.

In the last few months or so, since I began my active campaign in the education sector, through school visits and trainings exercises, I’ve came to discover that a large majority of our private school, including the “government-approved” ones are largely uninformed and non-compliant as to the number of subjects recommended and approved for the children they teach. Some who are informed defy these regulations, in their efforts to impress their customer, the parents, with the variety and quantity of subjects they teach. I therefore, found schools offering as many as twenty to twenty-three subjects, even in the nursery classes. No wonder our children struggle, academically!!! Because, how in the world does a three-year-old cover four, much less thirteen to twenty-three specific subject areas!!!

Today, again, I was confronted with the same question by a school owner, which most others in the group could not address: How many and what subjects has government approved for our primary schools?

PLEASE NOTE THE SUBJECTS APPROVED FOR NIGERIAN SCHOOLS:

Primary 1  to 3 are allowed to take six subjects, as follows:

  • English Studies
  • Mathematics (with local contents)
  • Basic Science & Technology
  • Creative & Cultural Arts
  • Religious & National Values
  • Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba

The omission of French here, is not in error.

Primary 4  to 6 are allowed to take eight to nine subjects, as follows:

  • English Studies
  • Mathematics (with local contents)
  • Basic Science & Technology
  • Creative & Cultural Arts
  • Religious & National Values
  • Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba
  • Pre-vocational Studies
  • French
  • Arabic Studies (Optional)

JSS1 to 3 are allowed to take six subjects, as follows:

  • English Studies
  • Mathematics (with local contents)
  • Basic Science & Technology
  • Creative & Cultural Arts
  • Religious & National Values
  • Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba
  • Pre-vocational Studies
  • French
  • Arabic Studies (Optional)

SSS1 to 3 offers some electives, in addition to the compulsory ones listed below, all of which add up to no more than nine subjects:

  • English Studies
  • Mathematics (with local contents)
  • Basic Science & Technology
  • Catering or Data Processing (or several other alternatives)

NOTE that the subject, History, has recently been reintroduced in the Nigerian curriculum.

Another question raised by my audience:

What is the place of Quantitative and Verbal Aptitude?

Quantitative and Verbal Aptitude or Reasoning are not subjects per se. they are like sub-themes or exercises under specific subjects, and should only be treated as such.

Contrary to what many people think, the decision of government to restrict subjects on offer to these stated above, does not in any way, water down the quality or quantity of contents delivered. Rather, by these restrictions, the content quality and delivery approach are dramatically enhanced.

Take the subject, RNV, for instance. Even though it is just one subject, it comprises a rich and strategically-structure combination of the Social Studies, IRS and CRS (which can be delivered concurrently), as well as Civic and Security Education.

In general, the Nigerian policy on education clearly and carefully explains how the schools may plan and implement delivery; and it is left to us to ensure we comply, and also for the various education compliance teams to be judicious in their supervisory and advisory roles.

An interesting question from a school proprietor, “should I use my state (government) curriculum, even when my school is running Montessori?”

There is no reason you shouldn’t; after all, the Montessori is a delivery approach, which is chuck full of healthy principles, policies, practices and contents which can work with and does complement and enrich every curriculum or education system.

Finally, now that we all are informed, let’s do the right thing by our children. Subject overload is, in fact, really an act of abuse on the child. The parents are not the professional, and may, in an ignorance powered by unnecessary competitiveness, demand certain thing of us as school proprietors. But, it is our duty as knowledgeable professionals to advise, instead of succumb to them.

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