Educational System in Nigeria

Topics: Higher education, Secondary education, College Pages: 11 (2865 words) Published: June 24, 2013

The educational System of Nigeria
Education in Nigeria is the shared responsibility of the federal, state and local governments. The Federal Ministry of Education plays a dominant role in regulating the education sector, engaging in policy formation and ensuring quality control. However, the federal government is more directly involved with tertiary education than it is with school education, which is largely the responsibility of state (secondary) and local (primary) governments. The education sector is divided into three sub-sectors: basic (nine years), post-basic/senior secondary (three years), and tertiary (four to seven years, depending on the major or course of study). Education in Nigeria is provided by public and private institutions.

According to Nigeria’s National Policy on Education (2004), basic education covers education given to children 3-15 years of age, which includes pre-primary programs (ages three to five), and nine years of formal (compulsory) schooling consisting of six years of primary and three years of junior secondary.

Post-basic education includes three years of senior secondary education in either an academic or technical stream. Continuing education options are provided through vocational and technical schools.

The tertiary sector consists of a university sector and a non-university sector. The latter is composed of polytechnics, monotechnics and colleges of education. The tertiary sector as a whole offers opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, vocational and technical education. There are currently (2011) 117 federal, state and private universities accredited in Nigeria as degree-granting institutions. Information on all accredited universities is available on the National University Commission’s website. The academic year typically runs from September to July. Most universities use a semester system of 18 - 20 weeks. Others run from January to December, divided into 3 terms of 10 -12 weeks. 

Annually, an average of 1.5 million students take the Unified Tertiary and Matriculation Examination (UTME) for entrance into Nigerian universities, polytechnics and colleges of education. Universities have the capacity to absorb less than 40 percent of these test takers. The other 60 percent tend to go to their second and third choice categories of institutions—polytechnics and colleges of education. Many Nigerian students also apply to institutions abroad. In 2011, 40 percent of the students who sat for the UTME made the minimum cut-off grade of 200 (out of 400) for entry into Nigerian universities.

There are currently various government reforms and initiatives aimed at improving the Nigerian educational system. These include the upgrade of some polytechnics and colleges of education to the status of degree-awarding institutions, the approval and accreditation of more private universities, and the dissemintaion of better education-related data, including the recently published Nigerian Educational Statistics (a publication assisted by USAID among others).

However, with the recent announcement by Nigeria’s National Population Commission that Nigeria’s population is expected to hit 166 million by October 31, 2011 and that approximately 60 percent of this population will be between the ages of 13 and 45, the recent government initiatives fall far short of addressing the educational needs of the country. As a result, an increasing number of families and students are looking at alternative educational opportunities within the region and further abroad.



Primary education (grades 1-6) is free and compulsory, and offered to children aged 6-12. The curriculum is geared toward providing permanent literacy, laying a sound basis for scientific, critical and reflective thinking, and also in equipping children with the core life skills to function effectively in society.

In 2009, the gross enrollment ratio at the primary level was 89...
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