The educational system in Nigeria suffered some serious upheaval in the 80s because of the structural adjustment programme (SAP), which were set of policies recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) aimed at “Poverty Reduction” many of Nigeria’s infrastructure collapsed. It was difficult for the government to pay salaries, which meant that many teachers in public schools went unpaid. Because the country was being controlled by a military regime, corrupt officials embazzeled money from the educational coffers.
In order to survive, teachers began teaching private lessons and evening classes. Unemployed people with degrees saw these teacher’s success and also started teaching to make money. Because of this and the fact that public schools are not free, there has been an increasing trend towards privatization of education in Nigeria since the mid 1980s. The government is trying to reverse these trends by offering good salaries and benefits to teachers and making public education free again, but private schools are still very prevalent.
Today, there are many kinds of private schools in Nigeria expensive schools for the rich, more affordable schools for the middle lass and cheap private schools that are run from someone’s house or some rented rooms. According to research done at the university of Newcastle, in three of the poorest districts they look at, “an estimated 75 percent of school children were enrolled in private schools. There is a large Muslim population in Nigeria particularly in the North and among these people there are some private Islamic schools. Additionally, some Muslim believe that sending a girl to school will make her a less appealing bride, so many girls are not allowed to go to school. this is reflected in the literacy rates in the country. 72.5% for men. And 48.2% for women. In the North West, 55.7% of men are literate and only 20.9% of women (Mohammed, 1984).
Education is much less prevalent in the northern part of Nigeria party because of the larger Muslim population. The problem is not the quality of schools but rather the lack of support for education in general, particularly western education.
School starts at 8:00-8:30am and lasts until 1:30 or 2:00pm, Monday through Thursday. On Friday, school ends at 1:00pm so that kids can go to the Mosque. Some students might travel by bus or motor bike or just trek to school closet to them, so they might not have to travel far. Typically, classes have 35-40 students, although some times less in the 80s there were 50 pupils in a class, sharing desks, but this is less common today. Public schools have utilities and toilets and play grounds, but this is not necessarily the case in private schools, which might be a group of small rented rooms each big enough for 10 students.
After school, some students go to additional lessons, if their parents can afford it, others just play out and about or go to after school programs. Some have to go and sell goods for their parents. They may carry oranges or bananas or locally made “Akamu” on their heads to markets where they can try to earn some money to support their families. The standard for teachers in public schools is that they have a certificate in education, but this isn’t necessarily the case in private schools. Private schools do not always pay good salaries. Offer poor job security, and no benefits. After the crisis in the 80s, there is still fear of non-payment of salary in public schools and this is visited by frequent strikes and demand for pay rise of all sorts.
Primary education is no doubt the foundation stage of the career in the education industry, although some children go through the nursery. The experience gathered from the primary level will always influence the students academic performances in the secondary schools especially at the early stage of the secondary school life (Afolabi, 2005).
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