For most Nigerian, Primary education begins at the age of six . Students spend six years in primary school and graduate with a school-leaving certificate originally termed First School Leaving Certificate.
Subjects taught at the primary level include mathematics, English language, Islamic knowledge studies, Bible knowledge, science and one of the three main native ethnic groups (Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo).
Private schools would also offer computer, science, French, and art. Primary school students are required to take a Common Entrance Examination to qualify for admission into the Federal and State Government schools.
The UBE came as a replacement for Nigeria’s universal primary education scheme of the 6-3-3-4 system of primary education. The 9-3-4 system of education was designed in conformity with the MDGs and education for all (EFA).
The UBE involves 6 years of primary School and 3 years of junior secondary school, culminating in 9 years of uninterrupted schooling, and transition from one class to another is automatic but assessed through continuous assessment. This scheme is monitored by the universal basic education commission (UBEC), and has made it free and a right of every child. Therefore, the UBEC law section 15 defines UBE as early childhood care and education. The law stipulates a 9-year formal schooling, adult literacy and non-formal education, skill acquisition programmes and the education of special groups such as nomads and migrants, girl child and women, Al-majiri, street children and disabled gruuppee
Students spend six years in Secondary School that is 3 years of JSS(Junior Secondary School), and 3 years of SSS(Senior Secondary School). By Senior Secondary School Class 2 (SS2), students are taking the GCE O’Levels exam, which is not mandatory, but most students take it to prepare for the Senior Secondary School Exam. The Senior Secondary School Exam is taken in the last year of high school (SS3). Private organizations, the State government or the Federal government manages secondary schools in Nigeria.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is made up of thirty-six States and the Federal Capital Territory. There are about two Federal Government Colleges in each state. These schools are funded and managed directly by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Education. Teachers and staff are Federal Government employees. Teachers at the Federal Government schools possess a Bachelors degree in Education or in a particular subject area, such as, Mathematics, Physics etc. These schools are supposed to be model schools carrying and maintaining the ideals of secondary education for Nigerian students. Admission is based on merit, determined by the National Common Entrance Examination taken by all final year elementary school pupils. Tuition and fees are very low, approximately one hundred dollars ($100.00), because funding comes from the Federal Government.
State owned secondary schools are funded by each state government and are not comparable to the Federal government colleges. Although education is supposed to be free in the majority of the state owned institutions, students are required to purchase books and uniforms costing them an average of two hundred dollars ($200.00). Teachers in State owned institutions usually have a National Certificate of Education or a Bachelors Degree. Often these schools are understaffed due to low state budgets, lack of incentives and irregularities in payment of staff salaries.
Private secondary schools in Nigeria tend to be quite expensive with average annual fees averaging from One to Two thousand dollars ($1000.00 - $2000.00). These schools have smaller classes (approximately twenty to thirty students per class), modern equipment and a better environment. Teachers in these institutions all possess at least a Bachelors in a specific course area and are sent for workshops or short term programs on a regular basis.
With the introduction of 9-3-4 system of education in Nigeria, students are required to enter secondary school after spending a minimum of nine years of Primary Education and passed a prescribed National Entrance Examination. The students must spend a minimum period of six years in Secondary School. During this period, students are expected to spend three years in Junior Secondary School and three year in Senior Secondary School.
The General Certificate of Education Examination (GCE) was replaced by the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE). The SSCE is conducted at the end of the Secondary School studies in May/June. The GCE is conducted in October/November as a supplement for those students who did not get the required credits from their SSCE results. The standards of the two examinations are basically the same. A body called West African Examination Council (WAEC) conducts both the SSCE and GCE. A maximum of nine and a minimum of seven subjects are registered for the examination by each student with Mathematics and English Language taking as compulsory.
A maximum of nine grades are assigned to each subject from: A1, A2, A3 or A1, B2, B3, B4, (Equivalent to Distinctions Grade); C4, C5, C6, or B4, B5, B6, (Equivalent to Credit Grade); P7, P8 or D7, D8, E (Just Pass Grade); F9 (Fail Grade). Credit grades and above is considered academically adequate for entry into any University in Nigeria. In some study programs, many of the universities may require higher grades to get admission.
The Federal Government policy on education is adhered to by all secondary schools in Nigeria. Six years of elementary school is followed by six years of secondary school. Senior Secondary school consists of the SS I, SS 2, and SS 3 which is equivalent to the 10th, 11th and 12th Grade. The Senior Secondary School Examination (SSCE) is taken at the end of the SS 3. The West African Examination Council (WAEC) administers both exams. Three to six months after a student has taken the SSCE examination, they are issued an Official transcript from their institution. This transcript is valid for one year, after which an Official transcript from the West African Examination Council is issued. National Examination Council is another examination body in Nigeria Senior Secondary School Examination (SSCE) in June/July. The body also administer General Certificate of Education Examination (GCE) in December/January. The students often take both WAEC and NECO examinations in SSS 3.
The government has majority control of university education. The Federal Government of Nigeria has adopted education as an instrument for national development.
In addition to the number of universities, there are 13 Federal and 14 State owned Polytechnic Colleges respectively. These were established to train technical, middle-level manpower. Some of the colleges are beginning to award degrees.
English Language is the medium of instruction. The Academic Year is from October to September.
First year entry requirements into most universities in Nigeria include: Minimum of SSCE/GCE Ordinary Level Credits at maximum of two sittings; Minimum cut-off marks in Joint Admission and Matriculation Board Entrance Examination (JAMB) of 200 and above out of a maximum of 400 marks are required. Candidates with minimum of Merit Pass in National Certificate of Education (NCE), National Diploma (ND) and other Advanced Level Certificates minimum qualifications with minimum of 5 O/L Credits are given direct entry admission into the appropriate undergraduate degree programs.
Duration of undergraduate programs in Nigerian Universities depends largely on the program of study. For example: Social Sciences /Humanity related courses 4 Years (two semester sessions per year), Engineering/Technology related courses 5 Years (two semester sessions per year), Pharmacy 5 Years (two semester sessions per year), Medicine (Vet/ Human) 6 Years (Have longer sessions), Law 5 Years (two semester sessions per year).
Nigeria Universities are generally grouped into:
Five of these Universities were established between 1948 and 1965, following the recommendation of Ashby Commission set up by the British Colonial Government to study the needs for university education for Nigeria. These universities are fully funded by the Federal Government. They were established primarily to meet the manpower needs of Nigeria and set basic standards for university education in the country. These universities have continued to play their roles for manpower developments and provisions of standards, which have helped to guide the subsequent establishments of other generations and states universities in Nigeria.
With the increasing population of qualified students for university education in Nigeria and the growing needs for scientific and technological developments, setting up more universities became imperative. Between 1970 and 1985, 12 additional universities were established and located in various parts of the country.
The need to establish Universities to address special areas of Technological and Agricultural demand prompted the setting up of 10 additional Universities between 1985 and 1999.
Pressures from qualified students from each state who could not readily get admissions to any of the Federal Universities continue to mount on States Governments. It became imperative and urgent for some State Governments to invest in the establishments of Universities.
In recognition of the need to encourage private participation in the provision of university education, the Federal Government established a law 1993, allowing private sectors to establish universities following guidelines prescribed by the Government.