Nigeria – Education Profile
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is located on the West Coast of Africa with 36 states and a recorded population of over 120 million people. Of this population, 30 million are students. The country is rich in petroleum and many other natural resources. The three dominant tribes are Yoruba in the southwest, Igbo in the eastern region and Hausa in the north. Although people speak their native languages, the official language is English. The dominant two religions are Christianity and Islam.
Nigeria gained it’s independence from the British in 1960. For the past 15 years, it has been under military rule. During this period, the tertiary institutions were plagued with riots and strikes resulting in a decline in quality of the educational system. Educational institutions are still in the process of recuperating from the neglect of the former governments. A democratic government was voted for in February 1999. Retired General Olusegun Obasanjo was elected president.
The Federal Government of Nigeria regards education as an instrument for effecting national development. Her philosophy on education is based on the development of the individual into a sound and effective citizen and the provision of equal educational opportunities for all citizens of the nation at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels both inside and outside the formal school system. The language of instruction in Nigerian institutions is English. The Ministry of Education is the government body charged with the duty of regulating procedures and maintaining standards.
Primary education begins at the age of six for the majority of Nigerians. Students spend six years in primary school and graduate with a school-leaving certificate. Subjects taught at the primary level include mathematics, English language, bible knowledge, science and one of the three main native languages (Hausa, Yoruba and Ibo). 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.
Students spend six years in Secondary School. At the end of three years, they take the Junior Secondary School exam (JSS3 exam) which is a qualifying exam for 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.
Federal Government Schools
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is made up of thirty-six States and the Federal Capital Territory. There is 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 Schools
State owned 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 times these schools are understaffed due to low state budgets, lack of incentives and irregularities in payment of staff salaries.
Private Secondary Schools
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 ten to fifteen students per class), modern equipment and a better environment. Teachers in these institutions all posses at least a Bachelors in a specific course area and are sent for workshops or short term programs on a regular basis.
GCE & SSCE
General Certificate Of Education (GCE) And Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE)
With the introduction of 6-3-3-4 system of education in Nigeria, students are required to enter secondary school after spending a minimum of six years of Primary Education and passed a prescribed National Common 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 ranging 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, divided into the Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary School. Junior Secondary School consists of the JSS I, JSS 2 and JSS 3 which is equivalent to the 7th, 8th, and 9th Grade respectively. The Junior Secondary Certificate Examination (JSCE) is taken at the end of the junior year. Students who pass this exam may proceed to senior school at the same institution or may transfer to an institution of their choice. 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.
WAEC reserves the right to withhold Official transcripts of individuals or sometimes Institutions due to exam malpractice. Withholding of results could prevent the parties involved from ever getting an Official score report. Oftentimes students are forced to redo their SSCE.
Subjects Taught At Junior Secondary School
- INTEGRATED SCIENCE
- SOCIAL STUDIES
- INTRODUCTORY TECHNOLOGY
- BUSINESS STUDIES
- HOME ECONOMICS
- FINE ART
- NIGERIAN LANGUAGES(IGBO, HAUSA AND YORUBA)
- CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE
- ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE
- AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE
- PHYSICAL EDUCATION
- HEALTH EDUCATION
A student is expected to select a Nigerian language and to choose either Christian religious knowledge or Islamic religious knowledge, all other subjects are compulsory.
Subjects Offered At Senior Secondary School
- ENGLISH LANGUAGE
- LITERATURE-IN ENGLISH
- NIGERIAN LANGUAGES( IGBO, HAUSA AND YORUBA)
- FOOD AND NUTRITION
- 1CLOTHING AND TEXTILE
- HOME MANAGEMENT
- COMPUTER SCIENCE\TYPING
- APPLIED ELECTRICITY
- AUTO MECHANICS
- TECHNICAL DRAWING
- CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE
- ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE
- PHYSICAL EDUCATION
- WOOD WORK
- METAL WORK
All Senior Secondary students are required to study English, Mathematics, one science subject and one Nigerian language. All the other subjects are electives and are selected based on the students’ interest be it in the Sciences, Social Sciences or the Arts.
The Senior Secondary Certificate Examination is one of the requirements for undergraduate admission into a Nigerian University. A student must get at least a C in English and four other courses relevant to his major. A student applying for admission to study Medicine, Computer Science or Accounting, for example, will be required to have a minimum of a C in Mathematics as well as in English whereas a student applying for a program in History will not necessarily require a C in Math.
The second requirement is the Universities Matriculation Examination (UME) which was first conducted in 1978 by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
*Decree No. 2 of 1978 (amended by Decree No. 3 of 1989) empowers the JAMB to conduct Matriculation Examinations for entry into all degree awarding institutions in Nigeria and place suitably qualified candidates in the available spaces in the institutions.
Students must register for English Language and any three subjects based on their particular major. A fifty- percent total score is considered a pass for the UME exam. However, different institutions have different minimum requirements based on the different majors.
Language of Instruction
The language of instruction in Nigerian institutions is English. Students who have graduated from the secondary schools with a credit in English Language often meet the required minimum of 173 points on the TOEFL.
Nigerian University System
The government has majority control of university education. The Federal Government of Nigeria has adopted education as an instrument for national development.
Nigeria’s philosophy of education is based on the integration of the individual into a sound and effective citizenry. There is to be equal educational opportunities for all citizens of the nation at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
Nigerian Polytechnic Colleges
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. Entry Requirements include:
Minimum of 3 credits or it’s equivalent
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.
- A. Social Sciences /Humanity related courses 4 Years (two semester sessions per year)
- B. Engineering/Technology related courses 5 Years (two semester sessions per year)
- C. Pharmacy 5 Years (two semester sessions per year)
- D. Medicine (Vet/ Human) 6 Years (Have longer sessions)
- E. Law 5 Years (two semester sessions per year)
Nigeria Universities are generally grouped into:
First Generation Universities:
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.
Second Generation Universities:
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.
Third Generation Universities:
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.
State Universities: ****
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.
Minimum cut off marks for medical studies
Minimum of 5 Credits in Relevant Subject areas, (Biology, Chemistry, English Language, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics.
Pre-medical studies (1 year).
The duration of Graduate Programs depends on the specific field of study.
MASTERS PROGRAM 12 – 36 Months
DOCTORAL PROGRAMS 48 – 84 Months
The classes of degrees required for acceptance to Graduate Programs include:
Second Class Upper
*Culled from the Universities Matriculation Examination Brochure, 2000-2001.+ The World Book of Learning: Nigeria, Universities and Polytechnic Colleges 1999
+ The National University Commission: List of Nigerian Universities. 1999.
+ 2000 A. D. National University Commission Calendar
++ This is the only Military Academy established initially to be the training academy for young army officers. This was upgraded to a degree awarding Military Academy 1982.