By Ikenna Uwadileke
Abuja – The House of Representatives on Tuesday urged Federal Ministry of Education to urgently cancel the merge Christian Religious Knowledge and Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK) with civic education as a subject in schools.
The House mandated the ministry to make both subjects independent as they had always been and also, to make civic education compulsory in primary and secondary schools across the country.
This followed the adoption of a motion entitled “Call to make Civic Education Optional Instead of a Compulsory Subject for Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE)’’ moved by Rep. Beni Lar (Pleatue-PDP).
Moving the motion, Lar noted that under the previous secondary school curriculum, civic education was not a compulsory subject.
She pointed out that religious education was taught as either Islamic Religious Knowledge or Christian Religious Knowledge, both of which were optional subjects and taught independently.
Lar said that the ministry introduced a revised curriculum without due consultation with parents and stakeholders.
According to her, the curriculum for primary one to three classes which is the formative stage of a child does not provide for adequate teaching of the religious beliefs of the people.
“It rather provides destructive half-truths which destroys the fundamentals of the religious beliefs and erodes the essence of such religion being taught the children.
“The new curriculum which is in conflict with certain religious beliefs also makes the teaching of those beliefs compulsory.
“Section 10 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, makes Nigeria a secular state; therefore, religion should be separated from national values,’’ Lar added.
Speaking in support of the motion, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila (Lagos-APC) condemned the policy, adding that the ministry should reframe the policy.
According to Gbajabiamila, the policy is clearly against the constitution.
“Any law or policy that restricts freedom should be guided. You cannot teach a little child against his or her beliefs.
“When there is a policy of government that goes against our Constitution, such policy should be fought against by this house.
“Religion is a very significant and delicate issue; we must be very careful and be guided,’’ he said.
Okey Jev (Benue-APC) said “I am just wondering how we combined both religions and made them compulsory, considering the religious sensitivity of this country where some people kill in the name of religion’’.
Quoting section 31, sub-section 1 and 2 of the Constitution, Rep. Johnson Egbonniyma (Edo-PDP) said that the Constitution stated it clearly that children should not be taught anything outside the approval of parents or guardians.
“This issue should not even be a controversial one because it is stated clearly in our Constitution.
“Everyone has the right to what religion to practise. It is not proper for an institution to impose religion on anybody without the approval of their parent or guardian,’’ he said.
Rep. Rita Orji (Lagos-PDP) said it was wrong for students to undertake religion that they were not practising from home.
“I am begging this house to save this nation and call on the ministry of education to withdraw this curriculum,’’ she said.
Rep. Aminu Shagari (Sokoto-APC) said that the issue was a Constitutional matter and should not be debated.
“We should be careful to take decisions that deals with sensitive matters,’’ Shagari said.
In his ruling, the Deputy Speaker of the house, Yusuff Lasun, who presided at plenary, described the policy as wrong.
According to him, if the ministry of education had studied the Constitution carefully, it would not have introduced such policy that is totally against freedom of religion. (NAN)