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Social studies, as a course of study constitutes a special field within the educational system of many advanced countries.Â In developing countries like Nigeria, the course is relatively a new subject, which was introduced in schools in the early 1963.
Since then, the subject has continued to give immense recognition from government circles.Â The importance of the subject was further given a boost when it was made one of the core subjcts in school curriculum National Policy on Education (NPE), 1981.
In this NPE, social studies was made compulsory for both primary and junior secondary school levels.Â Thus, in a place like United States of America, social studies is virtually synonymous with citizenship education.Â The subject provides significant means of helping citizens to use schooling effectively to attain self-empowerment and help the individual to look at his society, understand its problems and seek solutions to them.Â Different societies have different problems.Â Hence, the concept of social studies in any given society must take into account the peculiarities of each.Â The concept of social studies in Nigeria is closely tied to the changing needs, problems and challenges of our society as they occur over time.
Although, social studies aims at impacting knowledge and providing valuable information necessary for life, its function is to help inculcate in students desirable social habits, attitude and values so much needed for their survival in the society.Â A major aspiration of every nation is the desire for rapid development which naturally depends on the quality of leadership, followship, honesty, self discipline, resource endowment, use of science and technology, rational utilization of her human and natural resources and above all unity and stability of the nation.Â All these can be solved through the studying of social studies.
In the Nigerian context, social studies have been regarded as one of the subject that can bring about fulfillment of all these demands of the society.Â The introduction of the subject in our school curriculum is aimed at bridging the loop holes of colonial education, which was mainly to pacify Africans.Â The reason why the government introduced social studies into the Nigerian school curriculum, was to make education relevant to the socio-economic and political needs of the country.
Okam (2008) is of the view that social studies is expected to provide studentsÂ with insight to the use of various knowledge, structure and procedures that have relevance to modern civilization by fostering understanding of the movement of events and personalities that have influenced the history of Nigeria.
Awe (2001) saw social studies as a problem-solving discipline.Â She declared that:Â social studies as a discipline if properly programmed and effectively taught should help to solve social problems that are facing developing countries like ours (Nigeria) where the old norms are fast losing their grips and no effective substitutes to replace them.
NERC (2007) defined social studies as a way of seeing, viewing and approaching things with special regard to their proper place and function in the ordering and management of man total natural social and technological environment.
CESAC (2002) defined social studies as a relationship between man and his physical and social environment as well as his relationship between science and technology.
Attitude of students towards the study of social studies in secondary schools