Less than 10 students apply to study history at the Kaduna State University, KASU, every year, according to Jatau Gaius, the immediate past head of the department.
“Students are not interested in history; we receive less than 10 applications every year,” Mr. Gaius said on Thursday, in Kaduna.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Mr. Gaius was speaking with a group of post-graduate students on how history had lost its prestigious place in the society.
While blaming poor government policies for the situation, he said that the decision to replace History with Social Studies and Government in primary and secondary schools curriculum, created a gap between secondary and tertiary institutions.
“Students do not develop interest in studying History because they do not offer it as a subject in secondary school; they study Government instead.
“While less than 10 students apply to study History in this institution, more than 800 apply to study Political Science, while an average of 1,000 apply to study Sociology every academic session.
“We have to force most of the students that you see in the department to study History; surprisingly, after the first year, they all developed interest and passion for the course,” Mr. Gaius said.
He, however, noted that the number of students that applied for Masters in History was quite impressive.
Mr. Gaius said that more than 30 students apply for Master of Arts degree in History every year, more than the number the school could accommodate.
“This is largely due to the interest and passion the students were able to develop during their undergraduate studies,” he said.
The university don regretted that Nigeria was still battling with the issues of nationalism, patriotism and nation building, 57 years after independence, and blamed that on a loss of touch with their history.
He opined that historical consciousness held the key to solving the country’s socio-economic, cultural, religious and political problems.
According to Mr. Gaius, knowledge of history promotes national consciousness, patriotism and moral leadership, which ensure overall national development.
In a related development, Barry Lee of Morehouse College, Georgia, U.S.A has said that it took concerted efforts by institutions to give meaning and value to history.
Mr. Lee said that the family, the school and as well as the government must accord some level of value for history, for it to be relevant.
“When institutions make history a priority, it becomes the people’s priority, because it becomes an important part of their culture.
“If the country can figure out how to make history part of the peoples cultural upbringing, then history will have a chance of creating the desired impact in nation building.
“The responsibility is in the hands of the government to make the necessary policies; government must beef up the academic institutions to train and produce the needed materials, while the family must make history part of the child’s cultural upbringing,” he said.