Education In Nigeria: 20 Million Out-of-School Children

Nigeria has the largest population in Africa. The country serves a diversified population through its education system, with a literacy rate of 69% according to UNESCO. However, problems with accessibility, quality, and funding still exist in the education system.

There are currently an estimated 20 million out-of-school children in the country, the majority of whom are girls. The reasons for this include poverty, cultural differences, and insecurity. For Nigeria’s future, investing in the education sector is essential.

What is basic education in Nigeria?

In Nigeria, the government has made tremendous efforts to provide access to basic education, especially for children from underprivileged homes.

A traditional education system was in place before the introduction of Western education. Education was provided using stories, songs, and proverbs. The focus was on teaching young people traditional values, culture, and life skills like farming and hunting. Traditional education had immense benefits for Nigerian children due to its emphasis on decent work, appropriate social behavior and interpersonal skills.

However, the Nigerian education system saw considerable changes when Western education arrived in the country in the 19th century. Traditional education progressively fell out of favor as Western education took its place.

What is the current system of Education in Nigeria?

Nonetheless, some ancient habits and practices have been adopted by Nigeria’s contemporary educational system. These habits are still a strong part of the social studies, history, and culture classes.

The current system of education in Nigeria is the 9-3-4 system. The system includes nine years of basic education, three years of senior secondary education, and four years of tertiary education. Tertiary education includes universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education.

The Federal Ministry of Education, which establishes the country’s educational policies, is in charge of overseeing the Nigerian educational system. Officials from the federal and state governments compose the National Council on Education. They play a crucial role in Nigeria’s process of developing educational policies.

Primary education in Nigeria

Pre-primary education in Nigeria is not compulsory or part of the education system, but has gained popularity due to the adoption of American curricula. Primary school education is the first federally recognized and compulsory stage of education.

A student normally starts at the age of four and spends the next six years in Primary School. English language, mathematics, science, social studies, and vocational topics are all included in the primary education curricula. Home economics, agriculture, and computer studies are all part of the vocational curricula.

Primary school education in Nigeria covers Christian Religious Knowledge and Islamic Religious Knowledge, as well as instruction in one of the three most popular Nigerian languages, namely Yoruba, Hausa, or Igbo. Students are taught these subjects by government-employed educators. However, the government’s insufficient funding causes a lack of resources, poor infrastructure, and a smaller workforce.

Difficult learning environments and shortage of skilled instructors make it harder for students to advance academically. Many graduate from high school without acquiring the skill sets to succeed in the modern workplace.

A significant issue in Nigeria’s educational system is corruption, including bribery and nepotism. According to UNICEF, about 10.5 million children are not in school, even though primary education is free and compulsory.

Factors affecting education in Nigeria

The two main issues affecting education in Nigeria are poverty and inequality.

In Nigeria, an estimated 20 million children are unable to receive an education. Notably in rural areas, where poverty and cultural factors often prevent children from attending school. Generally, children from low-income families are less likely to attend school. Those who do may face difficulties like insufficient resources, poor quality of instruction, and a lack of family support.

In some regions of Nigeria, cultural customs might operate as a roadblock to education. For instance, harmful practices like female genital mutilation, and early marriage can stop girls from enrolling in school or pursuing further education.

Moreover, schools have been the target of many terrorist attacks over the years. Terrorists have affected education in several regions of the nation, forcing closures and the eviction of pupils.

Nigerian military van

Among the notable incidents is the 2014 Chibok abduction, in which a terrorist group known as Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a school in Chibok, Nigeria. The majority of the victims were Christians between 16 and 18 years old.

The terrorists used them to try to get their members released from prison. Although some girls managed to escape or were rescued, many are still missing. A global viral campaign, #BringBackOurGirls, was launched in the wake of the abduction. Michelle Obama also shared a post using the hashtag for awareness and solidarity.

Meanwhile, most Nigerian educators do not perform at their best because of a lack of training and inadequate salaries. Internet access and technology limitations further prevent students from benefiting from online resources and e-learning opportunities.

In addition, Nigeria’s budgetary allocation of 7% is not enough to reduce the growing number of school dropouts.

Online schools in Nigeria

Nigeria’s recent increase in internet reach has triggered the growth of online education.

The National Open University of Nigeria, the University of Ibadan Distance Learning Centre, Obafemi Awolowo University Distance Learning Centre, and Learn@ease are few active online institutions. Undergraduate and graduate programs, secondary and elementary education, skill-based and vocational training, and vocational courses are all available at these online schools.

two boys using laptop

Nigeria’s Universal Basic Education program (UBE) aims to raise the quality of elementary education by providing free, universal, and compulsory education to all children. The UBE program has increased the number of children attending primary schools and prompted the building of additional schools.

Moreover, the government has put policies into place to raise the standard of education, such as new curricula and teacher training.

Despite federal government attempts, the Nigerian education system has faced considerable difficulties over the years. This has led to a drop in educational standards in the nation and a high rate of youth unemployment. However, to claim that the educational system in Nigeria is a total failure would be inaccurate.

It is no secret that Nigeria has produced many outstanding, highly educated individuals who excel both domestically and abroad in multiple fields. Nigerian universities, like the University of Ibadan and the University of Lagos, are highly regarded across Africa, having trained numerous notable alumni.

Nobel-Prize winning Nigerian Playwright, Wole Soyinka and Current Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Ngozi-Okonjo Iwaela are just a few of the professionals to graduate from Nigeria.

In light of the country’s current education crisis, it is crucial for the Nigerian government to implement a diversified strategy to fortify the education system.  

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