In this article, you will learn the history of education in Nigeria, the current education system and the policy that governs the educational system in Nigeria.
As such, if you’ve been wondering about how education began in Nigeria, pay attention and read through. Before then, what is the literacy rate in Nigeria?
History of Education in Nigeria and Literacy Rate
According to UNESCO, the adult literacy rate is estimated to be 62% among Nigerians aged above 15 years. What does this show?
This shows that the average Nigerian possesses the ability to read and write. However, this is so even if that may not be fluent.
While evaluating the history of education in Nigeria, note this. The education system in Nigeria influences the literacy rate of its citizenry.
Interestingly, education in Nigeria grew over the years after the Methodist missionaries introduced formal education in Nigeria.
History of the Nigerian Education System
The history of education in Nigeria is tied to what you are about to read. Methodist missionaries started the first primary school in Nigeria in 1843. Thankfully, they introduced formal education in Nigeria.
A few years later, in 1854, some Christian missionaries started CMS grammar school in Lagos. This became the first secondary school in Nigeria.
However, once Lord Lugard had amalgamated the northern and southern parts of Nigeria in 1914, there was a growing demand for schools in Nigeria.
The rapid growth in education led to the establishment of the University of Ibadan in 1948. Amazingly, this was the first Nigerian university.
As years went by, individuals and groups in the private sector took the responsibility. They established private schools in addition to public schools.
Thus, the educational sector in Nigeria has both government and private schools across all levels of education.
History of Education in Nigeria in Statistics and Facts
According to statistics, 7.2 million children enrolled in early childhood education programs in Nigeria. In contrast, 22.2 million children aged above 6 years enrolled in a public primary school. And 5.5 million children registered in a private primary schools.
For secondary school enrolment, the pattern was clear. The survey revealed that the enrolment rate in junior secondary school was 54.4%. And those for senior secondary school was 68.6%.
A 2017 university census revealed that the total number of undergraduate students was 1.7 million. And the number of postgraduate students (students carrying out either a master’s or doctorate degree) was 234,000.
History of Education in Nigeria and the Educational Policy
As you research the history of education in Nigeria, note. The national policy on education is legislative guidelines from the federal government.
This sets standards, procedures and implementation plans that ensure educational development and delivery of qualitative education in Nigeria.
The first national policy on education was published in 1977. However, it has been revised several times by successive stakeholders in the federal ministry of education. And this is because of growing changes in education delivery.
As you research the history of education in Nigeria, note. The 2014 edition of the national policy on education stipulates that the government handles formal basic education, which is compulsory and free to all. The basic education covers:
- 1-year pre-primary education.
- 6 years of primary education.
- 3 years of junior secondary education.
Also, new objectives and curricula were highlighted in the national policy on education. And this was to guide and regulate educational activities across all levels of education, both in public and private schools.
How Education in Nigeria Works
The government and private stakeholders such as non-governmental organizations and private individuals manage educational facilities. And this is as stipulated by the national policy on education.
However, the federal ministry of education regulates public and private educational institutions.
Nigeria has 3 government levels:
The federal government and statement government manage public tertiary and secondary level institutions. And the local government oversees public pre-primary and primary level institutions.
Structure of the Nigerian Educational System
As you research the history of education in Nigeria, note. The Nigerian educational system was formerly structured using the 6-3-3-4 formula.
This means 1 year pre-primary, 6 years primary, 3 years junior secondary, 3 years senior secondary and 4 years tertiary education.
Thus, tertiary education covers universities, polytechnics and educational colleges. However, in 2008, the federal government introduced the 9-year basic education curriculum. And this was to achieve the goals of the universal basic education program.
Thus, the Nigerian educational structure became 9-3-4, which means 9 years basic education, 3 years senior secondary school education and 4 years tertiary education.
The structure of the 9-year basic education curriculum is:
- Lower basic education curriculum- Primary 1-3
- Middle basic education curriculum- Primary 4-6
- Upper basic education curriculum- Junior secondary 1-3
The 9-year basic education program, together with the recent curriculum changes, was implemented in 2014 across various schools in Nigeria. As you research the history of education in Nigeria, note the above.
More Details in the Educational Structure in Nigeria
The Nigerian formal educational structure is divided into:
- Basic education
- Senior secondary school education
- Tertiary education
- Basic Education
The 2014 national policy on education stipulated that basic education covers early child care and development education (crèches, daycare). And covers pre-primary education, and primary and junior secondary education.
As you research the history of education in Nigeria, note. Basic education provides formal education training to children aged between 0-15 years. The age group distributions for sub-level of basic education are:
- Early child care and development education – 0- 4 years
- Pre-primary education (1-year duration) – 5-year-olds
- Primary education – 6-12 years
- Junior secondary education – 12- 15 years
Also, as we look at the history of education in Nigeria, note. English is the official language of instruction at the basic education level, but they may adopt indigenous languages depending on the location.
For instance, educators in a particular geopolitical zone of Nigeria may choose to teach primary school students in their local languages, such as Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba.
Schools use the national policy on education guidelines to decide on the curriculum and subjects to teach. Also, they give a student that successfully completes primary education a primary school leaving certificate. This is to progress into the junior secondary school level.
Also, a basic education certificate is awarded to successful students that pass the entrance exams into senior secondary school education.
History of Education in Nigeria and the Senior Secondary School Education
As we look at the history of education in Nigeria, note. The current secondary curriculum prepares students to have vocational skills apart from their formal education training.
Vocational training empowers senior secondary school students to gain skills such as:
- Fashion designing.
The formal education curriculum offers core subjects such as:
- Civic studies and entrepreneurship.
Interestingly, this cuts across the different fields of study which include:
- Technology and business.
For senior secondary school students to progress into the tertiary level of education, note. The student must pass the senior school certificate examination prepared by the West African examination council (WAEC) and national examination council (NECO).
The WAEC exams are usually taken every year in May. And they only expect senior secondary school students in the last class to sit for this exam.
Also, successful students are given a senior school leaving certificate upon completing senior secondary education.
For instance, for students to gain admission into a Nigerian university, the student must pass both the West African examination council (WAEC) or national examination council (NECO) and the unified tertiary matriculation exam (UTME).
The joint admissions and matriculations board prepares the UTME as a uniform admission test. And it is for all eligible senior secondary students, regardless of location.
However, in 2016, because of some irregularities in the conduct of the UTME, some universities now conduct their internal exams to screen students further before admission.
History of Education in Nigeria and the Tertiary Education
As we look at the history of education in Nigeria, note. Nigerian tertiary education covers universities, polytechnics and colleges of education.
The National University Commission is the governing body that regulates the activities of accredited universities in Nigeria.
The university curriculum is structured to prepare university graduates to contribute to national development. And it aims at developing entrepreneurs to create employment opportunities.
It is believed that these entrepreneurs will boost economic growth. And this is by creating more jobs and reducing unemployment. Also, this will reduce crime rates among unemployed youths.
Colleges of education are training centres for preparing young students interested in the teaching profession. And these colleges prepare their students to become competent teachers in society.
Additionally, polytechnics provide specialised technical training and skill acquisition for students. And this is so they can contribute to the industrial and economic developments in Nigeria.
As we look at the history of education in Nigeria, note. Education in Nigeria has developed over the years after the initial introduction by Christian missionaries. And this is because it is one of the major sectors in Nigeria that contributes to nation-building and economic growth.
The federal ministry of education regulates education in Nigeria. And the national policy of education sets standards and guidelines that educational institutions follow. And this is to ensure students are prepared for national building and development.
The current educational system in Nigeria follows a 9 years of basic education, 3 years of senior secondary education and 4 years of tertiary education.
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