Country profile: Nigeria

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1 Country profile: Nigeria Background As of mid 2008, Nigeria s population is estimated at 138 million, split primarily between Muslims (50 percent) and Christians (40 percent). Muslims constitute the majority in the north of the country and Christians in the south. Nigeria is a federal republic with a presidential system. The constitution provides for a separation of powers between the three branches of government; a strong executive, an elected legislature and an independent judiciary. General elections held in February 1999 marked the end of 15 years of military rule and the beginning of civilian rule based on multi-party democracy. General elections were held for the third successive time in The victor was Umaru Musa Yar ada who assumed presidency in May Education and Training System Nigeria has three different education systems: indigenous forms of education; private religious schools and the modern state system. The indigenous form of education involves participation in community life to train young people in farming and other occupations. A longstanding Islamic education system exists predominantly in the north. Some children attend Qur anic school, called madrassah, from the age of five or six, where they learn sections of the Qur an (the holy book of Islam). Qur anic education also includes learning to read and write in Arabic. Although some children go on to specialise in religious studies, most children who participate in Qur anic education proceed to modern state schools. Basic education is free and every child who enrolls in primary education is required to remain in school until the end of the three-year junior secondary education cycle. Effectively this means that all children should complete a nine year school programme with the aim of meeting Government targets outlined under the Universal Basic Education Scheme. The formal education system is as follows: six years of primary school; three years of junior secondary school; three years of senior secondary school, and four years of university education leading to a Bachelor-level degree in most fields. Most children enroll in primary school at the age of six. Secondary education is split into two phases. After three years, students sit the Junior School Certificate. Progression can be to senior secondary school or to technical college (for craft training). At senior secondary school eight subjects are studied for the Senior School Certificate. Language of Instruction The official language of Nigeria is English, although other widely spoken languages include Edo, Efik, Fulani, Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. All of these languages are 1

2 recognised as official languages of instruction in education. After the first three years of primary education, however, English is used as the medium of instruction throughout the educational system and is well spoken by a large percentage of the population. The language of instruction in state secondary schools is English. Academic Year The school year extends over ten months, divided into three terms of ten to twelve weeks each at the pre-primary, primary, junior and senior secondary levels. The school year lasts nine months for technical schools. The academic (college) year consists of nine months, divided into two semesters of eighteen to twenty weeks each. Qualifications Schools Lower and Upper Secondary Junior Secondary School Certificate (JSSC exam) / Certificate of Basic Education Senior School Certificate (SSC) West African GCE "O" Level West African GCE "A" Level Vocational Education and Training Upper Secondary National Technical/Business Certificate Advanced National Technical/Business Certificate Vocational Education and Training Post Secondary National Vocational Certificate (NVC) National Innovation Diploma (NID) Monotechnics, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education (MPCE) Higher Education and Training Universities Matriculation Examination (UME) Ordinary National Diploma (OND) Higher National Diploma (HND) Full Professional Diploma National Certificate in Education (NCE) Technical Teachers Certificate 2

3 Bachelor's Degree Postgraduate Diploma Master's Degree Master of Philosophy Doctor of Philosophy Administration and Organisation of Education System Nigeria achieved independence from the United Kingdom in The current administrative system is divided into the Federal Capital Territory and 36 states. The management of education in Nigeria is based on this federal system, so that while basic educational policy regarding structure, curriculum and school year is centrally determined, some powers over educational delivery are devolved to state and local government. In effect, education is administered by three branches of government: primary education is under the control of local governments, secondary schools fall under the jurisdiction of the state government and higher education is administered by both the federal and state government. Administrative Bodies and Agencies The Federal Ministry of Education, through the National Council of Education (NCE), coordinates education policies and procedures through the federation. The Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) is an independent body of professional educators acting in an advisory capacity to both the federal and state ministries of education, universities, institutes of education and other education agencies. The National Universities Commission (NUC) operates under the Federal Ministry of Education and is mandated to approve programmes, to monitor universities and to accredit programmes. The NUC provides a full listing of recognised federal, state and private universities in Nigeria. The National Examinations Council (NECO) is responsible for conducting the Junior and Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE), as is the West African Examination Council (WAEC). The National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) conducts the National Technical Certificate (NTC)/National Business Certificate (NBC) examinations, as well as the advanced level versions of these exams in a number of trades/discipline such as engineering and construction. The National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) has responsibility for the establishment of minimum standards in polytechnics, technical colleges and other technical institutions in the Federation. In addition to providing standardised minimum guide curricula for technical and vocational education and training. The 3

4 NBTE supervises and regulates, through an accreditation process, the programmes offered by technical institutions at secondary and post-secondary levels. It is also involved with the funding of polytechnics owned by the Government of the Federation of Nigeria. The NBTE provides a full listing of approved polytechnics and technical colleges in Nigeria. The National Commission for Colleges and Education co-ordinates all aspects of non-degree teacher education in Nigeria. The Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) conducts the Matriculation Examination for entry into all universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in Nigeria. The National Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) was established in 1972 to encourage, promote and coordinate educational research programmes in Nigeria. This agency provides significant data on educational problems within Nigeria and its work underpins the reform agenda nationally. The Federal Ministry of Education owns and runs twenty-five universities, thirteen polytechnics, fifteen technical colleges, twenty colleges of education and sixty-six secondary schools. The remaining tertiary institutions are owned and funded by state governments, while other secondary schools are owned and funded by state governments, communities and private organisations. The administration and management of state government-owned secondary schools falls under the remit of state Ministries of Education. The administration of public primary schools falls under the local education authorities. Reforms The rapid expansion of the education system, compounded by a shrinking economy, has constrained educational development in Nigeria. A reduction of expenditure on education has slowed the reform process and even maintaining the system as it currently exists is challenging. The reform agenda is underpinned by the work of the National Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), which was established in 1972 to encourage, promote and coordinate educational research programmes in Nigeria. Today the most crucial strategy for sustainable education development in Nigeria is the Universal Basic Education Scheme launched in The Universal Basic Education Act passed in 2004 represents the most significant reform to basic education and aims to provide free compulsory education at primary-school level and for the first three years of secondary school, as well as to provide functional literacy for adult illiterates. The national adult literacy rate is 61 per cent for men and 40 per cent for women. In the 1980s and 1990s the government implemented a series of far-reaching education reforms. These reforms have significantly altered the structure of secondary education. Before the changes went into effect, secondary school education closely resembled the 4

5 British system consisting of GCE O levels followed by two years of GCE A level courses. This structure has been replaced by three years of junior secondary and three years of senior-secondary schooling. As a result, the GCE O and A Levels have largely been phased out, and replaced by the Junior School Certificate and Senior School Certificate. In addition, the secondary school curriculum has also been changed. Junior secondary schools now offer both academic and pre-vocational streams. Graduates of junior secondary schools may progress to senior secondary school or to technical/vocational college. Curricula at all levels of education have also been reformed to put more of an emphasis on science and technology. At the primary and secondary levels, new courses, such as environmental studies and population studies, have been introduced for the first time. Universities have also introduced a general studies requirement to give students broadbased knowledge to compliment areas of specialisation. In September 2008 a nine year curriculum from primary to junior secondary was introduced and is intended to ensure that by the time a child ends her basic education, she will have completed a comprehensive education that will include ICT, French language and civic education. The school system is not being jettisoned; however an integrated curriculum covering the first nine years of school education will help to address what the Ministry of Education has described as a disconnect between primary and secondary education in Nigeria. In October 2008 the Minister of State for Education announced that selected polytechnics and colleges of education will soon be upgraded to award university degrees. As a consequence, higher education and training qualifications will be considered as comparable regardless of whether they were achieved in a university or in a polytechnic/colleges of education. The purpose of this reform is to strengthen polytechnic education and create additional avenues for would be students in a country where hundreds of thousands of qualified school leavers are unable to secure a university place each year. Government limitations on the salary and career prospects of college graduates in the public sector have been removed. Vocational enterprise institutions (VEIs) and innovation enterprise institutions (IEIs) are institutions recently approved by the Federal Government of Nigeria to provide a alternative route to higher education. They have been established due to the lack of capacity in higher education institutions to accommodate the multitude of secondary school leavers and the low participation of the private sector in skills training, They are private institutions that will offer vocational, technical or professional education and training at post-basic and tertiary levels to equip secondary school leavers and working adults with vocational skills and knowledge. 5

6 The School System Primary Primary education begins at the age of six for the majority of Nigerians and lasts for six years. The curriculum for primary school typically includes subject areas like mathematics, English, social studies, home economics and agriculture. However, the curriculum has just recently been reviewed, and, from September 2008, the primary school curriculum will include ICT, French language and civic education. For the first three years of primary school the medium of instruction is that of the immediate environment. During this period English is taught as a subject. During the remaining years of primary school, English is progressively used as the medium of instruction. Until 2004, graduating students from primary school had to sit the Primary School- Leaving Certificate examination, this examination has been abolished and the Primary School Leaving Certificate is now awarded on the basis of continuous assessment. Secondary Education The secondary education cycle lasts for six years and is divided into two three-year cycles: junior secondary and senior secondary. Junior secondary school has two streams; pre-vocational and academic and the core curriculum includes: English, mathematics, French, integrated science, social studies and introduction to technology. Pre-vocational electives include agriculture, business studies, crafts and computer education. Non pre-vocational electives include creative arts, religious and moral education and Arabic. Students typically take between ten and thirteen subjects, including core subjects. On the successful completion of the junior cycle students are awarded the Junior Secondary School Certificate (JSSC ) / Certificate of Basic Education, which is necessary to progress to the senior secondary school level. Following the Junior secondary school cycle, students are streamed into secondary schools (60%), technical colleges or schools (20%) and out of school vocational training centers (10%) or apprenticeships (10%) offering a range of terminal trade and craft awards. The senior secondary cycle lasts for three years and each student takes eight subjects from a diversified curriculum that includes six core subjects: English; mathematics; one major Nigerian language; and one elective out of biology, chemistry, physics or integrated science; one elective out of English literature, history, geography or social studies, agricultural science or a vocational subject. The Senior School Certificate (SSC) is issued by the West African Examination Council and/or the National Examination Council on successful completion of the senior secondary cycle. It may take up to six months following the SSC for the student to receive an official transcript from their institution. This transcript is valid for one year after which they are issued with an official transcript from the awarding body. A 6

7 maximum of nine grades are assigned to each subject taken in the SSC examination. An average of credit grades and above (see note on grading below) is considered academically adequate for access into the University in Nigeria, however many universities may require higher grades for admission. The SSC is one of the requirements for undergraduate admission into a Nigerian university. Typically a student must achieve at least a C in English and four other courses relevant to her major. For the purpose of access to higher education in Ireland, the minimum required grade for English in the SSC would be equivalent to a score of 173 on the computer-based TOEFL. The second requirement for entry to higher education is the Universities Matriculation Examination (UME), which was first conducted in 1978 by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). Students taking the UME must register for English language and three subjects based on their particular major. A fifty percent total score is considered a pass for the UME examination i.e. a total score of 200 or above out of a maximum of 400 is required to pass. However, the different higher education institutions will specify different minimum requirements based on the nature of specific undergraduate programmes. It should be noted that a score of will place a student s performance in the top 10% nationally. The Senior School Certificate replaced the West African General Certificate of Education Ordinary and Advanced levels (GCE O and A levels) in It should be noted that students may still take the GCE O and A level examinations, though these are not mandatory, and if successful this will guarantee direct entry to university without being required to take the University Matriculation Examination. Grading System for Senior School Certificate (SSC) 1 Excellent 2 Very good 3 Good 4-6 Credit 7-8 Pass 9 Fail Secondary and Post Secondary Vocational Education and Training Typically, vocational education is provided at secondary level through science technical schools (formerly technical colleges or trade schools) following junior school education. Vocational and innovation enterprise institutions are vocational institutions which have recently been established to offer part and full-time education leading to the award of certificates and national diplomas. Vocational enterprise institutions (VEIs) will admit candidates with a minimum of the Basic Education Certificate (JSC), and will cover 7

8 multidisciplinary areas that will prepare learners for jobs in most industries. The Innovation enterprise institutions (IEIs) will admit students with a minimum of five credits obtained in the Senior Secondary Certificate (SSC). It should be noted that Vocational and Innovation Enterprise Institutions are a recent addition to the education and training system and numbers presenting with these qualifications for recognition internationally are not likely to be significant for some time yet. The National Board for Technical Education (NBTE ) provides a full listing of Accredited Vocational Enterprise Institutions and Innovation Enterprise Institutions. Qualifications A two tier system of nationally certified courses is offered at science technical schools, leading to the award of National Technical/Business Certificate (known as Craft level Certificate pre 1995) and the Advanced National Technical/Business Certificate (known as the Advanced Craft level Certificate pre 1995) The National Technical/Business Certificate programme lasts three years after Junior School and the qualification is considered comparable to the Senior Secondary Certificate (see School Education). The Advanced Certificate lasts one year and requires the National Technical/Business Certificate and two years relevant industrial experience for entry. This means that a student requires a minimum of six years to qualify as a master craftsperson from a science technical school. The awarding body for the National and Advanced Technical/Business Certificates is the National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB). The National Certificates are recognised by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) as meeting minimum entry requirements for admission into tertiary institutions including the universities, polytechnics and colleges of education. The National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) provides a directory of accredited state and federal technical schools. VEIs run three year modular programmes, where each year of study can lead to an exit award. The qualifications obtainable at this level are the National Vocational Certificate (NVC) Part 1, Part 2 and Final. Grading Scheme for National Technical/Business Certificate Letter Grade Percentage Score Grade Point A1 80% and above 4.0 A B C D

9 E F G H The new innovation enterprise institutions (IEIs) will run two-year, full-time diploma programmes or part-time (three-four year) programmes leading to the qualification of a National Innovation Diploma (NID). Higher Education and Training The Nigerian system of higher education is binary in nature and is constituted of universities and a non-university sector made up of polytechnics, monotechnics and colleges of education (see Non University-Sector Higher Education and Training for further information). Quality Assurance in Higher Education Accreditation processes have been introduced at higher education level to ensure certain standards. Higher education and training has also come under increased centralised control through two national commissions, the National Board for Technical Education and the National Universities Commission. These agencies grant approval for all programmes run in Nigerian university and non-university higher education and training institutions. They grant approval for the establishment of all higher education and training institutions and ensure quality assurance of programmes within such institutions.. Universities Universities can be established by either federal or state governments. While those universities established by federal government have higher enrolments, there is little or no difference between federal or state administered universities. Each university is governed by a council and a senate. The colleges or institutes that are affiliated with the Universities are autonomous. In 1993 the Federal government passed legislation to allow for the establishment of private institutions of higher education. The National Universities Commission maintains a register of recognised universities in Nigeria. Currently it lists twenty seven federal universities, thirty-one state universities and thirty-four private universities. Minimum Entry Requirements 9

10 Five credit passes in the Senior School Certificate and a pass on the Universal Matriculation Examination are required for minimum entry to university. Applicants presenting acceptable results in the Nigerian GCE A levels are granted advanced entry to stage two of a four-year Bachelor degree. The numbers applying through this direct entry route are extremely low. Qualifications The Bachelor degree is typically four years in duration. In the case of many professional degrees, such as medicine and dentistry, duration may extend to six years for completion. All programmes leading to the award of a Bachelor degree are at Honours degree level. Programmes may be taken as single or combined honours and this will influence the amount of specialisation in later years of the programme. A dissertation is a normal requirement for the successful completion of a Bachelor degree, however, there is not an expectation that the award holder will have undertaken independent research. The Bachelor Degree may be awarded with Honours, classified as follows: 1st Class Honours nd Class Honours, Upper Division 2nd Class Honours, Lower Division rd Class Honours/Pass A Postgraduate Diploma is awarded after the completion of one year of graduate study beyond the Bachelor degree. PGD programs are generally offered in education and public administration. Programmes leading to a Masters degree are generally one or two years in duration. The one-year programmes are coursework based and do not involve research work. Study towards the Doctorate generally takes three years post Masters degree. Candidates presenting for the award are required to submit a thesis and take an oral examination. Higher degrees are not normally classified. Non University-Sector Higher Education and Training 10

11 The provision of technical education takes place in institutions that are considered higher education in level, but non-university in status. Polytechnics, monotechnics (single-discipline training) and colleges of education all provide higher technical education and training. Minimum Entry Requirements Entry into non-university higher education institutions is based on performance in both the Senior Secondary Certificate and in the Monotechnics, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education (MPCE) Examination conducted by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB). In 2008, there were 320,000 candidates sitting the MPCE, numbers of candidates have increased significantly over recent years, reflecting the growth in interest in higher technical education and training and the recent decision by Government to allow polytechnics to award Bachelor of Technology degrees in the near future. Providers of higher technical education and training are accredited by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE). The Board provides a full listing of accredited federal, state and private polytechnics and monotechnics. Qualifications Polytechnics and institutes of technology award the Ordinary Higher Diploma on the successful completion of a two-year programme. The Higher National Diploma (HND) can be taken as a two-year programme following the completion of the Ordinary Higher Diploma and one year of relevant work experience. Grading Scheme for National Diploma and Higher National Diploma Distinction Upper Credit Lower Credit Pass The Professional Diploma is open to holders of the HND and takes at least eighteen months post-hnd to complete. The Professional Diploma allows for progression to Masters level nationally. Colleges, universities, specialised training institutes and professional bodies offer various certificates and diplomas that may be obtained after one, two or three years. The award of such Certificates, Diplomas and Advanced diplomas are intended to support progression to professional registration and employment in specific professional employments. 11

12 The Nursing Council of Nigeria awards the Diploma of Midwifery after one year of theoretic and clinical postsecondary studies and the Registered Nurse Certificate after three years of postsecondary study. The profession of Medical Laboratory Science in Nigeria is regulated by the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN). Medical Laboratory Scientists are admitted, registered and licensed by the MLSCN The MLSCN is a Federal statutory body established via the MLSCN Act 11, The present law effectively repealed the Institute of Medical Laboratory Technology of Nigeria Decree 56 of 1968 and the Institute of Medical Laboratory Science and Technology of Nigeria Decree 54 of The Professional Diploma awarded previously by the Institute of Medical Laboratory Technology of Nigeria has recently been discontinued in favour of the more academic Bachelors degree in Medical Laboratory Science. Teacher Training Colleges of education and universities provide teacher education. Colleges of education are governed by the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE). The Commission provides accreditation services for Colleges of education and maintains standards through periodic accreditation visits. Qualifications The National Certificate in Education (NCE) is a professional teaching certificate awarded by a college of education. It is the minimum certificate that qualifies one to teach in junior secondary schools and technical colleges in Nigeria. The NCE takes three years to complete. Holders of the NCE will typically progress with advanced standing to a Bachelor Degree in Education in a university. The Technical Teachers Certificate requires one additional year of study following the National Certificate in Education. The universities offer Bachelor of Education programmes, which qualify the holder to teach in secondary schools. Alternatively, a single-subject Bachelor degree plus a Postgraduate Diploma in Education would provide the same professional status. The Higher National Diploma (HND) awarded by the polytechnics can be used to teach vocational subjects in both secondary and technical schools. 12

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