THE ROLE OF SOCIAL STUDIES EDUCATION IN PROMOTING RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE IN NIGERIA
The study tends to bring another dimension to the debate about the declining state of values in our society. It is pertinent to note that over the years, education, that has been a tool for shaping and molding the values and character of our children has faced years of neglect. The implication of this is the rising cases of crime, kidnappings, religious violence. Therefore, this paper makes a strong case that for the society to correct the moral decadence, education, through social studies should be employed. This is with a view to inculcating value education, which ultimately will turn around the situation of things in the country.
The concept of education has been defined as all efforts, conscious and direct, incidental and indirect, made by a give society to accomplish certain objectives that are considered desirable in terms of the individual’s own needs as well as the needs of the society where that education is based (Otive, 2006). At the outset, it is important to point out that education goes beyond schooling. But schooling at all levels help to achieve the purpose of education.
Social Studies education as a field of study has a lot of contributions towards the attainment of the national objectives. It involves the adult and the young within the society. It helps in the development of their competencies to enable them solve and manage the socio-economic and physical forces arising in their midst. It is not concerned with the study of man per say, rather with the study of man within the context of his environment, his social, physical, political, economic, cultural and technological environment (Ezegbe, 1994).
Religious tolerance implies treating one another in situation of peace or under provocation. It does not imply requiring one member of a religion to compromise the laws of his/her religion. As a matter of fact, Islam and Christianity in Nigeria do not require a compromise of the teachings of their scriptures to live together. In their scriptures there are many guiding principles encouraging reasonable coexistence in a society like that of Nigeria.
Social Studies touches on every facet of human existence and it has long been identified as a veritable tool or avenue for reshaping society. The very nature, content and scope of new socio-political order.
According to Akinlaye (2003), the following are the goals and objectives of social studies:
1. To create an awareness and an understanding of our social and physical environment as a whole in its natural, man-made cultural and spiritual resources for national development.
2. To develop a capacity to learn to acquire certain basic skills including not only those of listening, speaking, reading and writing and of calculation, but also those skills of observations, analysis and inference which are essential to formation of sound social, economic and political judgment.
3. To ensure the acquisition of that relevant body of knowledge and information which is an essential prerequisite to personal development as well as positive personal contribution to the improvement of mankind.
4. To develop a sympathetic appreciation of the diversity and inter-dependency of all members of the local community and the wider national and international community.
5. To develop in students positive attitudes of togetherness, comradeship and cooperation towards a healthy nation. The inculcation of appropriate values of honesty, integrity, hard-work, fairness and justice at work and play, as well as ones contribution to the development of the nation.
6. To encourage learners to appreciate that all the things they have learnt are inter-related.
The importance of the introduction of social studies education into Nigerian school’s curriculum cannot be overemphasized. This is due to the fact that it infuses in the young a love of the country, thereby fostering national unity which is essential to our development as a nation.
Social studies education in Nigeria has a special task to perform in transforming Nigeria into a modern state. They include: healing the social, political and religious wounds of the past decades, nurturing the most recent hopes in good ethnic group relationship and nationalism, and the engendering of constructive reforms to make the nation a just and progressive society. It also helps to foster the desire for self-reliance, national efficiency and national pride.
Social studies education contributes in the attainment of national goals through citizenship education. Citizenship education refers to the culture of certain behaviours, knowledge outlooks and values which are found in the culture the individual participates. A citizen however, is one who conforms to certain accepted practices, holds a particular belief that is loyal to certain values, participates in certain activities and conforms to norms which are often local in character.
It contributes in making citizens understand the diversity among the people of Nigeria, and further leads them to see the cooperation and later dependence among them which are among the major elements of nation building. It further plays the role of making the people appreciate and respect the cultural diversity of Nigeria and to realize the need for cooperation, tolerance, unity and people in the country (Sheshi, 2002).
The nation’s policy on education is government’s way of realizing that part of the national goals which can be achieved using education as a veritable tool. The National Policy on Education is formulated and anchored on the overall philosophy of Nigeria as a nation which include to; live in unity and harmony as one indivisible, indissoluble, democratic and sovereign nation founded on the principles of freedom, equity and justices; promoting inter-African solidarity and world peace through understanding.
The policy was drafted with the believe that education shall be an instrument per excellence for national development; in the end, the formulation of ideas, their integration for national development, and the interaction of persons and ideas. Education shall foster the worth and development of the individual, for each individual’s sake, and for the general development of the society. That every Nigerian child shall have a right to equal educational opportunities irrespective of any real or imagined disabilities. And that there is the need for functional education for the promotion of a progressive united Nigeria.
However, there are some challenges that hamper quality education in Nigeria, which ultimately leads to low value culture and religious intolerance.
1. Infrastructure: Many schools lack the essential infrastructure to enable them to function as safe, efficient and effective schools. The vast majority, whether urban or rural, have no water, sanitation and electricity. These services needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The physical state of the classrooms is very poor with floor full of holes; roofs and ceilings broken in most of the schools, the overall fabrics in a poor state of repair. Windows do not have shutters and doors are often not locked so schools lack security. Few schools have perimeter fence or enclosure, again, making them open to intruders and vandalism.
2. Teacher quality, development, motivation and retention: No education system can rise above the quality of its teachers. The standard of teachers invariably affects the performance of the pupils and students. The major challenges include; inadequate number of qualified teachers with a large number of grade 11 teachers and secondary school leavers teaching; uneven distribution of teachers between urban and rural schools; poor remuneration and motivation and low teacher support. A large number of teachers with certificates below the NCE (38.75%) still born in the system. In the North East and North West region, the figure is about 70%. The existing shortfall in teachers is 969,078 for Early Childhood Care Development and Education: 338,147 for primary education: 581 for JSS: 1,580,000 for adult literacy and 5,329 and 12,329 for nomadic education. Another challenge is the alarming discrepancy between teachers certified qualification and their actual teaching competency and performance of the job.
3. Curriculum relevance and review: The curriculum and instructional material have a direct impact on the quality of teaching and learning in schools. The major challenges include: effective implementation of the new 9-year education curriculum; lack of regular review and updating of existing curricular to meet changing societal need; low capacity of curriculum developers and implementers; lack of digitization of curriculum including the use of computer simulations and inadequate funding for curriculum development and review.
4. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT): The potential of ICT in fostering sustainable national development generally and quality education delivery in particular, is globally recognized. As a result, concerted effort has been made, especially at the policy level, to ensure the inculcation of ICT skills into pupils from the basic education level. Unfortunately, the implementation of the policy is plagued by lack of requisite ICT infrastructure.
5. Technical and Vocational Education Training: In the basic education sector, technical and vocational education and training is infused into the subject areas. Schools would be expected to ensure that adequate attention is paid to the development of the foundational skills upon which TVET will be developed at the highest level.
6. Funding, Resource Mobilization and Utilization: There are no accurate data on public expenditures in education in Nigeria because of lack of information on the education expenditure of states and local governments. Within the existing structures, there is no constitutional obligation for state government to provide funding information yet transparency in funding is critical in order to obtain a broad picture of funding. Commitment to education can be judged by its resource allocation. Tracking of expenditure also helps to ensure that funding allocation goes to where it is most needed in the education system.
Education is the first instrument which can be used to enlighten Nigerian citizens concerning religion. The planners of education need to value religion and recognize its significance in the curriculum of education. It is necessary for every follower of a religion to understand his/her religion very well from the scriptures.
Therefore, efforts should be put in place to address the challenges highlighted above, with a view to providing the needed education that will improve learning in our schools and promote religious tolerance in the country.
The inculcation of national consciousness and national unity, social values and skills for active social life through social studies education, serves as necessary ingredients for nation building. Social studies education plays a very vital role in development of the critical and national thinking ability of the citizens for practical social life, promoting of political literacy and encouraging democratic values and principles in tackling dynamic problems in the society. It also enables citizens to develop positive attitudes towards other people and towards citizenship, and also to contribute their best towards the welfare of the society and nation building.
Considering the look worm attitude of parents especially in the rural areas in sending their children to school, the government should enact a law that stipulate punishment for defaulting parents who will fail to send their wards to school.
Government should also encourage and support the establishment of more neighbourhood schools by communities, voluntary organizations and faith-based organizations to synergize existing structures.
Akinlaye, F. (2003) Fundamentals Social Science Studies Curriculum Planning and Instruction. Lagos, Pumark Nigeria Limited
Ezegba, M. (1994) “Building a Strong United Nigerian Nation Through Social Studies Education in Nigeria”. Journal of Social Studies Review I
Otive, I. (2006) Funding Primary Education in Nigeria: An address delivered at a Roundtable Organized by the Commonwealth Education Forum Abuja.
Sheshi, M. (2002) Citizenship Education: A panacea for National Consciousness and Sustainable Democracy in Nigeria. A paper presented at the 7th Annual National Conference of Federal College of Education, Kontagora.