History is the analysis of and interpretation of the human past that enables us to study continuity and change over time and space. Education on the other hand is about the present and concerned with improving the present individuals by appropriate studies. This relative difference between history and education raises the problem of whether history should have a place as curriculum discipline in modern Malawi. History entails a research, a narrative or an account that is commonly related to person, institution or place.
The society of Malawi has people, institution as well as places that are historical and therefore to forgo the study of these things will bar the citizens to appreciate the social, cultural, political and economic events or changes happening in the country as well as the changes that have occurred. It has to be noted that change and continuity has been of human experience in every society including Malawi. History, as a curriculum discipline in modern Malawi is relevant if Malawi is to understand its role in Africa and the world at large in dealing with global realities such as limate change, gender relations, Pandemics among others.
To begin with, history inclusion in the modern Malawi curriculum as a subject is also justifiable because it vital for good citizenship. Good citizenship is a common justification of placing history in a school curriculum. Other disciplines such as engineering, medicine and agriculture can really provide immediate solution to our daily problems their purpose cannot be an end in itself. There is need for a good citizen who will not avoid tax nor engage in corruption among others to ensure that every citizen benefits from the services.
This is why history has to be taught so that people can learn good citizenship skills. History for instance accounts for why certain civilisations collapsed and why others triumphed. From this, students can deduce good traits of how citizen should act in order to develop his or her country. History provides information about the national institutions, problems and values. It is the storehouse of how nations have interacted with other nations.
It provides comparative perspective essential for responsible citizens in a country. History would give Malawi essential habits of mind important for r public behaviour such as the importance of citizen participation in public activities, such as a community leader, an informed voter, and a well-informed petitioner. The second justification of history as a curriculum discipline in modern Malawi is that history will help Malawi as a country to recognise change and how our society must be channelled to meet the nation’s needs.
For example, it is only when we notice that there is a change in the economic level of the people that we can stop subsidising some public services such as oil, water, education and farming tools. Likewise the changes that have occurred due to the scourge of HIV and AIDS pandemic has necessitated the abolition of some traditional practices Fisi,Kupimbira and Chokolo that increase the vulnerability of contracting the deadly disease. History can provide a historical analysis on why there is resistance from people as well as how people will be affected structurally if they alter their social institutions.
History is able to trace things that have changed in a particular society including those that have resisted change and come up with the causes. This is because history is not just about some fixed or objective facts, as it perceived by many. Rather history is an interpretive discipline that forms the basis of confronting nearly every problem in the society. It promotes a wider understanding of both local and global affairs For instance, the problem of voter apathy during elections.
While other social science may only present a description of the problem as regards the causes and inherent effects to the electoral results, history is able to come with a historical analysis as to when did the problem state since it can detect change. It can also figure out on whether the causes are the same factors over the years or are new reasons for voter apathy. The argument is that modern analysis of the problem is vital but a historical is clearly fundamental since it provides attention to complex processes of social change.
History is also relevant to modern Malawi because it contributes to moral understanding. History challenges people to engage in moral contemplation. Through the study of ancient heroes and heroines such as Rose Chi ambo, James Sangala, John Chilembwe and Nightingale coupled with the situations in which they worked, students of history come to test their moral sense. History records individuals who for example sacrifice all they had to serve the destitute and this sets a good example to people who tend to emulate their moral sense.
Some legendaries show people who were very patriot to their countries. These people portray great moral quality such as diligence, courage, constructive protests, active citizenship, heroism, self-sacrifice and devotion to duty and responsibility. This good morality tends to include the virtues of tolerance and empathy. The study of history lets students recognize the difference between what is good and what is evil. History instils in students the ability to understand and accommodate diverse views there by fleeing from bias and prejudice.
The call to respect beliefs and practise of others is important in every society including Malawi to avoid conflicts such as civil wars. History as a curriculum discipline in modern Malawi is relevant in the sense that it helps citizens to understand people and societies. It is through the study of history that Malawi has come to understand the values and norms of different tribes that constitute the Malawi nation. If it were not for history, it would be hard to live harmoniously in Malawi. It is through learning of history that the people have come to find their identities as well as their values.
History harbours all information about how the people have behaved, what values they have held in highest esteem and their norms over space and time. Among others, the knowledge of history has proven relevant when it comes to conflicts in boundaries both at village level and at national level. For instance, the current boarder dispute between Malawi and Tanzania calls for the stake holders who are handling such cases are to refer to history about the partition of Africa by the Europeans among others. In this case, it can be argued that history is relevant to Malawi as a curriculum discipline to e taught in schools.
A number of other disciplines from social science may try to analyse the patter and operations of people’s values and structures but it may be hard. For example, sociology and anthropology will explain current behaviour using historical data. These disciplines at the end are tied to history as the source of their experiments. History in other words becomes their laboratory. For example to evaluate the values and beliefs of a Malawi, you need to appreciate the past experiences. Helps understand great complexities of the world so that that we better face them and challenge them.
Another justification for history as a relevant curriculum discipline for modern Malawi is that it develops a number of skills required for career development, personal as well as public life of an individual. Studying history one learns the ability to asses proofs of statements and arguments. This in turn builds ones experience in handling evidence. Students learn to interpret statements of the facts about political leaders and distinguish between the objective and subjective statements of their leaders.
They also learn to ask questions and put into use the evidence to arrive at conclusions of various matters that require them to make decisions for their own good or the society in general. These abilities can make good human resource for Malawi’s political , social-economic institutions . A good human resource must be able to bring together different types of evidences – public, private records, numerical data to develop coherent arguments for a decision based on variety of data.
This is the skill students of history develop and can be applied to the daily life in decision-making, law, education and administration among others. History in modern Malawi curriculum is relevant as Malawian need to virtually gain access s to the laboratory of human experience from the infinity to the present. This will help them better confront the challenges they face since history will provide a big picture of those challenges and prevent them from making shortsighted decisions or solutions.
History has to be studied and taught so that usable skills can e acquired to come up with relevant skills whish an enhance capacity for informed citizenship, critical thinking and simple awareness among other benefits that justify the relevance of history as a curriculum discipline for modern Malawi. It has been argued that history engages people in to a dialogue that removes prejudices that people carry always. People come to confront their own biases that create space in the mind for diverse viewpoints without conflicts. Excluding history in the school curriculum would be as dangerous as losing identify. To take the words of Nkrumah that people denied history are people deprived of dignity.
Courtney from Study Moose
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