Education is the greatest force that can be used to bring about change. It is also the greatest investment that a nation can make for the quick development of its economic, political, sociological and human resources.
It was in realisation of this that a National Policy on Education was formulated for the country. The policy seeks the inculcation of national consciousness and national unity; the inculcation of the right type of values and attitudes for the survival of the individual and the Nigerian society; the training of the mind in understanding of the world around; and the acquisition of appropriate skills, abilities and competence both mental and physical as equipment for the individual to live in and contribute to the development of his society.
In order to preserve the culture of the people, government of Nigeria encourages the learning of at least one major Nigerian language – Hausa, lgbo and Yoruba in schools. In addition to the English language, which is the official language in Nigeria and the medium of instruction in Nigerian educational institutions, students are encouraged to learn the French language as a matter of policy.
This is referred to as the education given to children aged three to five years prior to their entering primary school. This type of education is currently being provided for mainly in privately owned institutions. Day care centres also exist for children below the age of two. The pre-primary schools are mainly concentrated in urban and semi-urban areas where there are working mothers who have no relation nor house-helps to take care of their children.
This is education given normally to children aged between six and eleven years and above. Since the rest of the educational system is built upon it, the primary level is the key to the success or failure of the whole system.
The state and local governments have the constitutional responsibility for primary education but private sector, represented by individuals, communities, religious groups, and voluntary agencies are permitted to own and run primary schools. Private schools usually charge fees whilst public schools charge only a token amount in fees. Parents provide uniforms, text-books and other school materials in both private and public schools.
Management of Primary Education
The management of primary education has been entrusted to the National Primary Education Commission which has the following functions:
Prescribe the minimum standards of primary education throughout Nigeria.
Inquire into and advise Government on the funding of primary education in Nigeria.
Manage the National Primary Education Fund as established by the Federal Government and allocate the funds to the appropriate body desginatedby each State and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and to any agency responsible for Special Federal Governent sponsored primary school project.
Collate, after consultation with all the State Governments, periodic master plans for a balanced and co-ordinated development of primary education in Nigeria.
Education of handicapped children was not considered an important investment until quite recently. Infact, the first school for handicapped children (excluding the gifted) was established by the missionaries in 1932. However, by 1974, Government has thought it fit to accord it due priority that it deserves. Since then each State of the Federation has been providing integration facilities for the handicapped in compliance with the Federal Government policy.
Special education is the educational treatment of children and adults who have learning difficulties because of various sorts of disabilities. As a result they are unable to cope with the normal school class organization and methods, without special supportive resources.
There are also the specially gifted and talented children who are intellectually precious and find themselves insufficiently challenged by the programmes of the normal schools, and who may take to behaviour problems in resistance to it. Government has directed that all exceptional children must be provided for under the National Policy on Education.
Basic Education for Nomads in Nigeria
Another area that has attracted special attention is the education of the country’s nomadic population. Realising that the educational needs of this group might not be met through regular channels, government set up a National Commission for Normadic Education to cater for nomadic education in the country.
This policy has resulted in the establishment of 65 regular schools, 46 on-site schools, 10 mobile schools and the enrolment of (6,575) nomadic children in fourteen states and (2,744) adults in 89 classess provided for them in three states. This brings to a total of 0.35% (22,692) nomadic pastoral adults and children who are benefiting from educational provisions.
The above figure of nomads who have other acquired some form of education or are acquiring education, when compared with an estimated population of 6.4 million is very small indeed. Therefore, if education for all is to be achieved in the next millenium, there is the need for a greater support by individual, local, state and federal governments and international agencies.
Secondary education is the form of education children receive after primary education and before the tertiary stage. The broad aims of secondary education within Nigeria’s overall national objectives are preparation of students for useful living within the society and for higher education.
Government plans that secondary education should be of six year duration and be given in two stages, the junior secondary school (JSS) and the senior secondary school (SSS), each stage being of three year duration.
The junior secondary school is both pre-vocational and academic. It is tuition free in some states of the federation and the basic subjects are taught to enable pupils acquire further knowledge and develop skills.
Student who leave school at the junior high school stage may then go on to an apprenticeship system or some other scheme for out-of-school vocational training.
The senior secondary school is for those able and willing to have a complete six-year secondaiy education. It is comprehensive but has a core curriculum designed to broaden pupil’s knowledge and outlook. The core curriculum is the group of subjects which every pupil must take in addition to his or her specialities. They are: English Language, Mathematics, one Nigerian Language, one of the following alternative subjects: Physics, Chemistry and Biology, one of the Literature in English, History and Geography, Agricultural Science Or a vocational subject.
The core subjects are basic subjects which will enable a student to offer arts or science in higher education.
Government has established a unity school in each of the states of the federation except the new ones. There are currently 63 such schools in the country. Government believes that education should help develop in our youths a sense of unity, patriotism and love of our country. It is essential that everything possible should be done to foster in them a sense of national belonging. Every secondary school should therefore function as a unity school by enrolling students belonging to other areas or states.
To this end, the Federal Government has set an example by a programme of Federal Government Colleges which admit students on quota basis from all the states. In this way, young pupils in their formative and impressionable years from all parts of the federation, with different languages, ethnic and cultural backgrounds have opportunity to work, play, live and grow together, to learn to understand and tolerate one another, and thereby, to learn to understand and tolerate one another, and thereby develop a horizon of a truly united Nigeria.
Higher Education including Professional Education
Higher Education covers the post-secondary section of the national education system which is given in Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Technology, Colleges of Education, Advanced Training Colleges, Correspondence Colleges and such institutions as may be allied to them.
The teaching and research functions of the higher educational institutions have an important role to play in national development particularly in development of high level manpower. Furthermore, Universities are one of the best means for developing national consciousness.
Structure and Organization of the Education System
The structure of formal educational system has four levels:
Primary 6-year duration
b. Secondary Junior and Senior of 3-year duration each
c. Tertiary 4 years of University education
4 years of Polytechnic education
(2-years of National Diploma (ND) and
2-years of Higher National Diloma (HND)
3 Years at College of Education
The non-formal system consists of functional literary, remedial, continuing, vocational aesthetic, cultural, political and environmental education for youth and adults outside the formal school system. The non-formal system allows for exit from and re-entry into it at desired points or times in life. There is also provision for movement from non-formal to the formal system.
Deliberate efforts have been made towards community empowerment through primary education intervention. Community programmes are run by community rural market, daily urban market centres, community and women co-operative society and by some mosques and churches.
A home and community based informal low cost and participation initiative is also being employed in the provision of non-formal education at the pre-primary level.
There are currently three main levels of teachers training establishments as follows:
Teacher Training Colleges: These used to be part of the secondary education programme. They awarded the Teachers Certificate Grade which in the past was the qualification required for primary school teaching across the country. However, the National Policy on Education has made the Nigerian Certificate in Education (NCE) the minimum Qualification for teaching in the country. Therefore, the Grade II colleges are now being phased out.
Colleges of Eduction: These Colleges run post secondary training programmes which produce NCE teachers. They used to train teachers for junior secondary teaching but they now train for primary teaching as well in view of the fact the NCE which they award has become the minimum qualification for primary school teaching as from 1998. Some of the colleges also run NCE pre-primary courses in order to produce teachers for the pre-primary level of education.
Universities: All conventional universities in Nigeria run the Bachelor of Education Degree Programmes which, are open to holders of the senior school certificate and the NCE. Senior Secondary School teachers are trained in the universities