FACTSHEET: Grading Nigeria’s progress in education

Do key indicators give Nigeria’s education system a passmark? Our factsheet looks at the state of early childhood, primary and secondary education in the country.

The Nigerian government has missed its April deadline to declare a state of emergency in education.

Though nine years of education are basic, free and compulsory under Nigeria’s Universal Basic Education programme, almost a third of children of primary school age are not in class.

In June 2016 President Muhammadu Buhari introduced a school-feeding programme to boost school enrolment. In northern Nigeria, another government programme has established more nomadic schools and “Almajiri” schools for destitute children.

This factsheet gives an overview of education data in Nigeria.

  1. School enrolment

Primary schools (grade 1 to 6). A total of 24,893,442 children were enrolled in Nigeria’s public and private primary schools in 2012. This had grown to 25.6 million by 2016, according to the education ministry.

The year with the highest enrolment figure was 2013, when 26.2 million kids were enrolled in primary schools countrywide.

In 2016, the net enrolment rate for primary schools was 65%. This was the share of the country’s primary school age children who were actually enrolled in school.

Lower secondary schools (form 1 to 3). Enrolment in lower secondary schools was highest in 2014, when just over 6.2 million pupils were registered. In 2015 it dropped marginally, and in 2016 fell to fewer than 6 million.

(Note: The education ministry did not collect data for Borno state from 2011 to 2015 due to the insurgency by terrorist group Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden” according to the most widely accepted translation.)

  1. Early childhood development

The Early Child Development Index measures the share of three- to five-year-olds who are developing appropriately in three out of four areas:

  • Literacy and numeracy
  • Physical
  • Socioemotional
  • Cognitive

Data from surveys by the UN’s child agency Unicef informs it.

Researchers asked parents 17 questions about their children. These included whether they attended an early education centre, were able to identify or name letters, and could pick up items. The children’s ability to follow directions in simple tasks and to get along with other kids were also assessed.

In 2011, the index was at 60.9%, moving up slightly to 61.2% in the 2016/17 survey.

“The index is very important as it shows the extent to which government, parents and other major stakeholders are affecting the general growth of a child,” said Moses Amosun, who teaches at the University of Ibadan’s department of early childhood and educational foundations.

  1. School readiness

The school readiness indicator measures the share of children in grade 1 who had attended preschool the year before.

In 2017, 39.2% of grade 1 children had attended preschool the year before – down from the 44.8% reported in the 2011 survey.

  1. Progress from primary to secondary school

Two indicators look at school progression.

The primary school completion rate is the number of children of primary completion age (11 years) who have attended the final grade of primary education.

The transition rate to secondary school is the proportion of pupils in the final grade of primary school who enrol in the first grade of secondary school the following school year.

The Unicef surveys show that while the percentage of children completing primary school increased over a decade, the share eventually making it into secondary schools almost halved between 2007 and 2016/17.

During his 2014 election campaign, Buhari promised to raise the transition rate to at least 75% by 2019.

Amosun doubts the president will make good on this promise.

“I don’t think it is very realistic, because even the homegrown feeding programme is still at a pilot stage and the president is almost finishing his first term.”

  1. Out-of-school children

In its latest education indicators report, the Nigerian education ministry still places the number of primary school age children who are not in school at 10.64 million.

But this figure – for 2010 – is outdated. New population estimates caused it to be revised downwards to 8.7 million by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

Unesco told Africa Check it had no update on the indicator beyond 2010.

Though states have access to dedicated funding to implement universal basic education, in 2017 none of them had accessed the N732 million allocated for it.

Oriyomi Ogunwale is the project lead of Eduplana Nigeria, a civic organisation whose advocacy work covers education funding and teachers’ development.

He pointed out that apart from poverty, geographical region and the educational attainment of parents, there is often a link between out-of-school children and  child labour.

The share of children between five and 11 involved in economic activity for at least one hour went from 29% in 2007 to 47.1% in 2011 and was reported at 43.2% in the most recent Unicef survey.

This was found to be most prevalent in the north-central and south-south parts of the country. Some of the most affected states have specific programmes to ensure more girls are in school, including cash transfers and free uniforms.

  1. Availability of children’s books

Here the share of children under five who have three or more children’s books is measured.

The trend is downwards. Whereas the 2007 survey reported that 14% of children under five had at least three children’s books, this dropped to 6% in 2011 and to 5.6% in the 2016/17 survey.

  1. Pupil-to-teacher ratio

In 2016, Nigeria had nearly 1.5 million teachers in public and private schools, according to the federal ministry of education:

  • 764,596 primary school teachers
  • 292,080 teachers in junior secondary schools
  • 398,275 senior secondary teachers

Ratios in the Nigeria Education Management Information System show one qualified teacher for every 46 pupils in public primary schools, 29 pupils per qualified junior secondary school teacher and 16 pupils for one qualified teacher in senior classes.

(Note: A teacher is considered qualified in Nigeria if s/he has at least a national certificate in education.)

  1. Government funding

Unesco recommends that developing countries like Nigeria should dedicate at least 15 to 20% of their spending to education. But since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, the country has never budgeted more than 12% of its public resources to education.

In Nigeria’s 2018 budget, education is set to get N651.2 billion (US$1.88 billion), or about 7% of the total spend. Less than 20% of this will go to building new schools, buying learning equipment and other capital projects.

“There is a way education connects to everything, but our leaders don’t seem to see that connection,” said OgunwaleOgunlana.

Edited by Anim van Wyk


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