Stakeholders calls for review of kindergarten textbook ‘Queen Primer

The Ministry of Education and other stakeholders has called for the review of kindergarten textbook “Queen Primer ” rather than an outright ban by the National Assembly following agitations by some groups on its content.

Minister of Education Prof. Tahir Mamman, made the call in Abuja at a one-day roundtable meeting organized by Ipas Nigeria with stakeholders to present IPAS findings on the “Queen Primer,” noting that the textbook which has been in the public domain for over 90 years needs to be reviewed to meet current education standard in the country.

Queen Primer is used in early grade schools to teach children how to read, alleging the inclusion of lewd and sexual material intended to defile students mentally. These groups argue that such content violates cultural and moral values, necessitating the removal of the textbooks from educational institutions.

Recall that on October 19, 2023, the House of Representatives asked all tiers of government to ban Queen Primer, due to its content.

The resolution followed the adoption of a motion moved by Sulaiman Gumi, on the floor of the House, that the book contains words like “gay” and “eros”, which according to the lawmakers, are words that introduce “gay and lesbians” to children.

The Minister who was represented by the National Librarian, Prof Mrs Chinwe Veronica, affirmed that the concerns raised by the National Assembly regarding the inclusion of certain words in the text would be addressed.

Mamman stated that given the book’s age and availability in the public domain, it could undergo a review, edit, and be republished to align with current educational standards in the Nigerian market.

In his remarks, Hon. Abubakar Sadiq Jallo, a member of Jigawa State House of Assembly, recognized the validity of the lawmakers’ concerns but emphasized the importance of carrying along stakeholders in the education sector. He urged IPAS to conduct sensitization campaigns and collaborate with the Ministry of Education.

Speaking at the meeting, the Deputy Director, National Library of Nigeria, Mrs Olani Olabimpe, acknowledged that some words may not have had negative connotations when the book was published in 1888, and said a review was imperative in the current context.

Presenting the findings, Country Director of IPAS Nigeria, Mr Lucky Palmer, expressed worry over the level of illiteracy in the country, stressing that the book remains critical for a better future,

”Today we just had a session based on a motion to ban the book Queen Premier book which we all know is meant to help to read and spell.”” So we wanted to be with the stakeholders to understand the rationale behind it and how we defend it from happening.”

Palmer maintained that banning the book now was not the way forward and therefore stressed the need for Nigeria’s educational institutions to look at it and look at other words that can be used.

He expressed the hope to meet with the Minister of Education and also members of the Committee on Education to give them additional information about the book itself so that people don’t work on assumptions or deliberate misinformation which are very rampant in the age of social media.

“Queen Primer part II contained longer sentences with more contextual meanings. For example, readers are introduced to two farmboys – Ben and Fan – who are excited about going to play in the hay.
Some of the sentences have been highlighted for context:

“May Ben and Fan go to play in the hay?
“Yes, Ben and Fan may go to play in the hay.
“Let us be gay. Let us run a-way and play in the hay.
“Is this the way? Yes, this is the way to the hay.”

It should be noted that the word “gay” highlighted by the lawmakers claiming the corruption of the mind, means “lighthearted and carefree”. Synonyms of the words also include “cheerful, jovial, merry” – all words that clearly depict the excitement of the characters going to play.
The word “gay” was also seen two more pages to depict similar sentences and as part of the total number of words included in the book,” he explained.