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Preprimary & Primary Education

Most preschools and kindergartens are privately owned, but they must register with the government and follow federal guidelines. They are normally very expensive, so only the wealthy can afford to send their children to preschools and kindergartens. The federal government initiated an Early Childhood Care Development Education (ECCDE) program in the early 1990s, but rapid changes in political events prevented it from making progress. In 1991, only 4.7 percent of preschool children had some preprimary education. The program called for community-based childcare. In 2001, as support for the UBE program, some communities began building their own nursery and preschool facilities with federal money and international grants and loans.

Primary school is free, paid for by local governments, but there are expenses the families must pay, such as school uniforms, supplies, and transportation. In October 2000, there were almost 19 million students enrolled in more than 41,500 elementary schools. Estimates suggest that about 65 percent of primary students complete grades 1 through 6, but only about 45 percent of these continue on to junior secondary school.

A major factor in the quality of education is the teacher-student ratio. In Islamic schools, often the ratio is ideal, only eight or nine students per teacher. In the public schools where the vast majority of students are educated, the average pupil-teacher ratio in 1996 was 34:1. The range varies considerably, as UNESCO figures illustrate: Anambra, 21:1; Kwara, 21:1; Taraba, 22:1; Plateau, 26:1; Ogun, 26:1; Abuja (federal capital), 26:1; Adamawa, 53:1; Yobe, 73:1; and Kano, 565:1

The major courses taught in primary schools are mathematics, English, Bible or Qur'an, science, social sciences, and one of the three major Nigeria languages: Hausa, Igbo, or Yoruba. Most courses are taught in the local language. In some schools computer skills, art, and/or French are offered. In their sixth year, students take the National Common Entrance Examination (NCEE) for entry into federal and state government secondary schools.

In 1983, a 144-page guide was published by the government detailing the social science syllabus for primary grades 1 through 6. Using Nigerian culture as a base, the syllabus focused even more on social topics: problems of living in the family, problems of employment, problems of group conflict, and religious problems. In the late 1980s, the government added emphasis on health and safety. With some adjustments to encourage problem-solving skills, this guide remains to be used.

Primary school classrooms across Nigeria lack basic supplies for teaching. A study published by UNESCO indicates that 10 percent of the sampled schools had no chalkboards, and most of the chalkboards in use needed replacement. Ten percent of the schools with chalkboards had no chalk, and in more than 50 percent of the schools, the supply was too little. Teaching materials, such as charts and maps, were missing in 42.0 percent of schools, and another 44.5 percent had inadequate supplies of these materials. Almost 89 percent of the schools had no science equipment.

Additional topics

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