Nigeria's education system has developed greatly in the last 100 years. In 1914 Nigeria adopted the British education system and this provided an excellent foundation for future development.
The 1969 Curriculum Conference of Nigeria gave rise to changes that were engineered to provide Nigerian children with more specific skills to help them succeed. This led to a series of policy changes in 1977, 1981, 1998 and 2004 that examined, evaluated and updated the curriculum to produce a better system for Nigeria.
However, many children have still been failed in Nigeria due to poor implementation of educational policies in both private and public sector secondary schools.
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Nigeria is a young country and a large percentage of the population is of an educational age. According to the 2013 Mundi report, Nigeria’s population is 175 million and around 63.2 percent are under the age of 25. Children under the age of 15 make up 43.8% of the population.
Of the 77 million children in the country, 21 million are enrolled in primary schools, nine million in secondary schools and 1.7 million are registered for tertiary education. There are 128 universities in Nigeria of which 77 are government funded and 51 are private.
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The literacy rate for Nigerians over the age of 15 is 61.3%, so there is still room for a lot of improvement in school education on a national level.
Recent population growth is making it more difficult for the government to provide a consistent level of education for all of Nigeria’s children but the system is progressing. There is criticism that Nigeria does not have enough university places; of the 1.7 million that are registered for tertiary education, only 500,000 are able to find a place.
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College and university places are in short supply, and many posts are unstaffed because of a teacher shortage. Nigeria is struggling to recruit enough teachers to educate its growing population. Class sizes are increasing and the quality of education in many schools and colleges is actually reducing.
Education is so important for Nigeria's future because the country is developing rapidly and moving from being a primarily agricultural economy to one with a growing service sector. This sector needs well-educated people with an excellent command of English and strong academic results in mathematics by the time they leave school. Further education is becoming more important because many parts of the service sector require new business leaders who can help manage and grow the service sector.
The government has made some excellent progress towards developing a generation of more literate and better educated people. However, it is the brilliant work of community organizations such as the African Leadership Academy (ALA) that is going a long way to producing Africa’s future business and political leaders.
On the ALA Global Advisory Council Tunde Folawiyo is using his business expertise to help forge a new generation of business leaders through an innovative education academy that draws expertise in from all over the world.
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It is clear that Nigeria is moving in the right direction but requires more investment into its education system. Private academies are providing an invaluable service to the wider community but the government still needs to tackle state education if Nigeria is to improve its literacy rates and become a leading African nation.
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