Some notable clergymen, under the banner of The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, issued a statement asking Christian students in Nigeria to boycott what they called Arabic Studies being imposed on them through the new school curriculum.
The National President of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Dr. Felix Omobude said “we are aware of orchestrated plans to subtly use this policy as a means of forceful religious indoctrination and we maintain our stand against it”. Also reacting to the government on this development, Bishop David Oyedepo added: “You cannot force our students to study Islamic Studies or Arabic Studies,” he said, citing the case of a Christian student who was allegedly flogged and forced to take Arabic Studies against his will in Kwara State.
At the start of this curriculum controversy, another Christian body, Christian Association of Nigeria, had made a presentation to the Acting President on, among other claims, the introduction of “Islamic Arabic Studies” in a section of the new curriculum.
In his reaction, the Executive Secretary of National Education Research Development Council (NERDC) denied these claims saying “there is no subject in the Nigerian School Curriculum called Islamic Arabic Studies nor anywhere in the world as being speculated”.
Another government official, @toluogunlesi, reacted to the call for a boycott by the Christian leaders, saying “In my opinion, asking Christian students to rebel against the study of Arabic (a language, not a religion) is ‘Boko Haram’ by other means”.
We will therefore factcheck the claim on the nature of this controversial course: Is it Islamic Arabic Studies, Arabic Studies, or Arabic Language?
The NERDC website lists the subject under discussion as Arabic Language. But no details are provided directly under this listing.
However, a closer look at the Electronic Curriculum (also provided on the site) revealed the following content of the Senior Secondary School (SS) Arabic subject:
The image above shows the Arabic subject curriculum for SS1 class, and it translates into the following themes:
The image above shows the Arabic subject curriculum for SS2 class, and is translated below:
The image above shows the Arabic subject curriculum for SS3 class, and is translated below:
We were curious, so we asked Google: What is Aqeeqah?
For comparison, we also provide the French Language curriculum for SS1 below:
Other than for the general translation errors, the Arabic curriculum appears to have a different structure from the French Language curriculum.
Contained in the Arabic subject curriculum, as listed on the NERDC website, is a mixture of Arabic language and other themes that do not appear to be pure language studies (e.g “The sermon of a priest who helps hands”; “Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and the speech of the conquest of Mecca”; “Male heroes Nigeria”, etc).
Therefore, due to the inclusion of elements of Islamic Studies in the course curriculum, we conclude that the subject being offered is not a pure Arabic Language course, and the claim that the subject teaches only Arabic Language is false.