On June 16, 2017, Thisday Newspaper reported a claim by The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) that Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) has been eliminated from the new education curriculum being introduced in secondary schools. Dr. Samson Ayokunle, who led CAN’s delegation said “whereas CRK, according to the new curriculum, would no longer exist as a subject in schools but rather as themes in civic education, Islamic/Arabic Studies/French subjects on the other hand, have been introduced in the new curriculum”.
On this same claim, another body, The Incorporated Trustees of Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International, has taken the Acting President, the Minister of Education, and the Federal Ministry of Education to court over alleged removal of Christian Religious Studies from the academic curriculum for Nigerian schools. Another group warned that the removal of Christian Religious Studies from school curriculum is a “sinister plot to cause inter-religious crisis in Nigeria”.
The official response from the government came from the Executive Secretary of NERDC, as follows:
“The Management of NERDC hereby reiterates categorically and unequivocally to all Nigerians 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”. The subjects are as listed 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 subject but only one (out of the two) that restrictively relates to the belief system professed by the child and his/her parents.”
The claims of the major stakeholders and vocal commentators are that:
- Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) has been eliminated from the new education curriculum
- Islamic/Arabic Studies/French subjects have been introduced into the new curriculum
Consistent with the response by Prof. Ismail Junaidu, the Executive Secretary of NERDC, a look at the JSS I-2 curriculum available on the NERDC website shows that a number of subject have now been grouped together and will henceforth be offered as themes under Religion and National Values (RNV) subject group. The subjects under RNV are Christian Religious Studies, Civic Education (Basic), Islamic Studies, Security Education, and Social Studies.
We also confirmed from a number of teachers in Secondary Schools in Lagos State that the subjects in the RNV subject group are listed individually and taught separately in schools.
Additionally, Islamic Studies is also a subject under the RNV subject group, just like Christian Religious Studies.
However, there is no separate subject titled Islamic/Arabic studies in the new school curriculum. Arabic Language is offered as an optional subject.
Therefore, the claim by The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and others that Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) or Christian Religious Studies (CRS) has been eliminated from the new education curriculum is false.
The claim that Islamic Studies is a standalone subject while Christian Religious Studies is not is also false, as both Islamic Studies and Christian Religious Studies are subjects taught separately under the Religious and National Values (RNV) subject group.
Also, the claim of the introduction of a new subject called Islamic/Arabic Studies is false.
Students are now offered an option of Arabic Language (edit: although a subsequent fact-check has revealed that the Arabic Language subject curriculum has elements of Islamic Studies in it).
French Language is also offered in the new curriculum.