History of Nigerian Educational System

A good percentage of Nigerians are educated. The number that gets educated is increasing more and more. This is largely due to several government policies that make it mandatory for children to be educated across the 36 states of Nigeria.

As at today, Nigeria remains the most populous black nation on earth. Its education system started from somewhere and this will be discussed in this write-up.


Before western education started in Nigeria, Nigerian children were exposed to informal form of education.  The society and families in which these children grew up gave them education on ethics and other things.

Things started changing when the Europeans, especially from Great Britain, started trooping into Nigeria in search of lands to conquer.  This started in the 1840s and this also marked the advent of western education in Nigeria. The westerners came as missionaries and they encouraged the locals to embrace western education.

The northern part of Nigeria resisted this western form of education for and opted rather for Islamic education until later years.  Very soon, primary, secondary and higher institutions were established in Nigeria.

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As at independence, Nigeria already had 2 post secondary institutions and these were University of Ibadan, which was established in 1948 as well as Yaba College of Technology, which was founded in 1953.

Yaba College of Technology was formerly referred to as Yaba Higher College when it was first established.

Nigeria however focused much on educational advancement after her independent. This was the age Nigerians from all regions begun to understand the true value of education. Many more families were sending their children to school to learn the ways of the White Man. This was prompted by the withdrawal of many of the British administrators from Nigeria.

Education advancement was faster in the south western part of Nigeria after independence. This was made possible by the focus of the then Western Region government to give free education to students from primary school level to higher institution.

Free education was very easy then, considering the fact that the number of students admitted into these universities were fewer than what obtains today.

Many Nigerians also had opportunity to study abroad, especially in England and they made very good use of it with many of them coming back as lawyers and doctors.

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Shortly after independence, Nigeria established a number of teacher training colleges; one of the very first teacher training colleges in Nigeria is St Andrews College located at Oyo Town in Oyo State, Nigeria.  Soon enough, a number of polytechnic colleges also came up across Nigeria.

Nigeria adopted the 6-3-3-4 education system in the 1990s. This means the student begins his/her education journey with 6 years in primary school, after which he/she proceeds to spend 3 years in either of junior and senior secondary schools. After this, the student is mandated to spend 4 years in higher institution.

As at today, virtually all local governments in Nigeria have a number of primary schools and secondary schools.  Nigeria presently has up to 70 universities, both private and public.  The country also has about 45 polytechnics. Nigeria has about 37 colleges of education also.

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