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Constitutional & Legal Foundation

A nationwide Board of Education was established by the colonial government in 1926. The education departments of Southern and Northern Nigeria were shortly thereafter merged to form a federal Department of Education. Government planning occurred after World War II. The 1946 Ten-Year Development Plan stimulated rapid expansion of schools especially in the south. In 1951 Nigeria was divided into three regions: North, East, and West. Each region had its own Board of Education and Ministry of Education. Four years later, the West took the lead in Universal Primary Education (UPE) by passing a law making primary education free. Two years later the East made the first three years of primary education free.

In 1973, the government created the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to promote patriotism among the young. The program required all students finishing schools that grant diplomas and certificates (postsecondary programs), to serve one year in public service in areas such as primary education, rural health, and construction.

In September 1976, the federal government initiated a national UPE program. Its success was mixed because of the political and economic turmoil of the following two decades. In the late 1970s, however, the government was optimistic that it could bring the people together through an expansive educational program. Consistent with this goal, the government declared in 1977 that education was an instrument of national development. The 1983 Constitution placed elementary schools under the responsibility of local governments and secondary schools under the combined administration of state and federal governments. Chapter II of the Constitution passed in 1999 promised "equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels," to "promote science and technology," and "to eradicate illiteracy" by working toward "(a) free, compulsory and universal primary education; (b) free secondary education; (c) free university education; and (d) free adult literacy programs."

In September 1999, President Obasanjo introduced Universal Basic Education (UBE), which promised free education for all Nigerians through junior secondary school (grade nine). Nigeria received a $55 million loan from the World Bank to help implement UBE. The money helped train about 30,000 teachers a year for 5 years. In addition, the president announced that Nigeria built 28,000 classrooms in the year 2000. UBE also includes a nation-wide literacy push to educate those outside the formal schooling system, including schools for families of pastoral nomads and migrant fishermen.

Additional topics

Education - Free Encyclopedia Search EngineGlobal Education ReferenceNigeria - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundation, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education