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Challenges in Nigeria Education

Updated on June 2, 2018
Uzochukwu Mike profile image

Okwuagbala Uzochukwu Mike P is a writer on youths, social challenges and in engineering, which includes material engineering related topics.

The setting of a school located in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The setting of a school located in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. | Source

Nigeria is a country located in West African Continent. The country is addressed as the giant of Africa. The question is: is it the giant in its education sector? Is it the giant by mere words of mouth? What level of service does the national government of this country pay to the education sector? What number of tertiary institutions in the country are mechanized?

Education sector of Nigeria is in a coma. It is sad that a country addressed as the giant of Africa pay lip services to the education sector, which is one if not the most basic sector of every nation.

Education is the process of training students both theoretically and practically. In Nigeria, many students are trained through theory without including the practical means which is more important. The challenges in Nigeria education sector are poor government funding, low practical background, individual negligence, corruption, teachers and lecturers weaknesses and lack of quality instructors.

The United Nations recommends that at least 26 percent of the national budget be allocated to the educational arm for growth in the sector, but the Nigerian government has failed in this. Statistics has shown that Nigeria has not come close to the recommendation in the recent years.

The 2018 budget which has been approved by the National Assembly shows that the allocation to the sector is low. In the proposal presented to the National Assembly on Tuesday (November 7, 2017), President Muhammadu Buhari allocated only 7.04% of the 8.6 trillion 2018 budget to the education (Azeezat Adedigba 2017 ).

The total sum allocated to the sector is N605.8 billion, with N435.1 billion for recurrent expenditure, N61.73 billion for capital expenditure and N109.06 billion for the Universal Basic Education Commission. Due to the poor care to the sector, it does not attract students from other African countries when compared to the 1990s when students from Ghana, Cameroon, Zambia and other countries usually derive joy in coming to Nigeria to study.

Today, the reverse is the case. Not just that Nigeria students travel to other African countries like Ghana to study but the lecturers leave the country as well. They want a better place to impact on the students and then paid well in return.

Federal Government of Nigeria allocation to Education

Vanguard News
Vanguard News | Source

From the table above, you will understand that there is no uniformity in the allocation given to the education sector of the country from 2009 till date. The year that has the highest allocation in terms of percentage was in the year 2014. That was during the leadership of the former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

Quoting from the words of Nwafor Polycarp of Vanguard News Nigeria in explanation of the above table, "In 2009, the Federal Government allocated N221.19 billion (7.25 per cent) of its N3.049 trillion budget to education. The figure was reduced to 4.83 per cent in 2010 when education got N249.09 billion of the hefty N5.16 trillion appropriation".

When Goodluck Jonathan was voted out of the office, President Buhari assumed the leadership position of the country. In that year, that was in 2016, the sector had its second-worst allocation in ten years. In that year, only N369.6 billion which was 6.10 per cent of the annual budget of N6.061 trillion was given for education.

Forty per cent of Nigerian children aged 6-11 do not attend any primary school with the Northern region recording the lowest school attendance rate in the country, particularly for girls. Despite a significant increase in net enrollment rates in recent years, it is estimated that about 4.7 million children of primary school age are still not in school - UNICEF 2008.

Poor Government Funding : A Serious Factor hinders Education Sector of Nigeria

How much does Nigerian government put into education sector each year? Most Nigerian politicians are selfish and do not consider paying good attention to students in the country. They only pay attention to things that they will benefit from, thereby ignoring the poor souls that study in different schools of the country.

What annoys most Nigerian students is that the sons and daughters of the national leaders study abroad where they are given first class treatment instead of taking part in the pains as citizens. The leaders embezzle the money they are to use in building the education sector of the country and use them for their individual expenses.

The infrastructural level in different universities, polytechnics, secondary, primary and nursery schools is too poor. Many buildings in primary schools are weak and 'pleading' for rebranding, yet the government turns their eyes in another direction when they see such mess. The tertiary institutions in the country lack proper funding as machines and other instruments which are to be installed in these post secondary educations are not there. This is one of the problems why most Nigerian graduates are jobless.

A picture of a collapsed school building in Plateau state. This killed one pupil and left 4 injured.
A picture of a collapsed school building in Plateau state. This killed one pupil and left 4 injured. | Source

Poor practical backup in Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria

The education system in Nigeria is more of theory without practical backup. This is a big challenge to the nation as 'all the notes in the world' are gathered for Nigerian students without any physical device to assist in their learning. Taking this discussion to students in Industrial Chemistry department, do they really make use of the required chemicals required of them for learning purposes? It is too bad as the lecturers kept on lecturing the students without practical aspect to enhance their understanding. Many surveying students have been taught on things concerning their area of study without being taken to the field where they will practice what they have been taught. The problem is not all about taking them to the field but on the material needed to carry out their activities in the field. In fact, weak practical is really one of the major challenges the Nigerian education is battling with.

In the secondary schools in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, senior students do write their Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations on a yearly basis. The subjects being written during the examination include the one called practical chemistry. Of the truth, some schools that do not have equipment for the practical have their students write the subject and still make it at the end of the process. The question is "how do these students make it when they do not have practical instruments"? All centers on the high examination malpractice in the country.

Individual Negligence affects Nigeria Education

Some countries like those found in European Continent have their education system sponsored by co-citizens, but the reverse is the case in Nigeria. Individuals donate the educational instrument, issue scholarships, build departmental halls and partake in giving other helping hands to make sure that the education sector is of a good standard, but this kind of help is limited in Nigeria. There are many wealthy men, who are capable of reviving this sector but they are reluctant and neglect how good it will be when they come together to support education sector. Education institutions of all the states in Nigeria will be one of the best in the world if all the rich men and women in the states come together to sort things out. Yes, the education department of Nigeria will be revived if they are able to do so.

Taking a look at the United States of America for instance, in the year 2000, Melinda and Bill's Gates gave $210 Million for sponsoring postgraduate students who wanted to study in University of Cambridge. The surprising thing is that this husband and wife gave the money for assisting postgraduate students outside the United Kingdom. Also, Melinda and Bill Gates once gave $20 Million to Duke University to enhance the university's study by Launching Program Expanding Interdisciplinary Teaching and Research. There is much support received from rich individuals from many parts of different countries in terms of sponsorship but this is rarely obtainable from Nigerian rich men. Capable hands in Nigeria should work together and assist education sector.

Corruption retards Nigeria Education

It is a pity that Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries in the world according to the 2013 Transparency International ranking on corruption. The body ranked Nigeria 8th most corrupt country in the world. Corruption is not a new thing in the country as many see it as normal. Corruption is included as one of the causes of downfalls in Nigerian education sector because it affects educational institutions in the country.

How do the heads of different universities in the country handle the money issued to them for the upgrading of the individual schools in the country? It is shameful that some headmasters and headmistresses use the fund issued to the nursery, primary, and secondary schools, by state and Federal governments for their (headmasters and headmistresses) selfish interest. When those who are given the money to take care of the schools are corrupt, what is the way forward? The case of Vice-Chancellors and Rectors in universities and polytechnics respectively is the worst. These 'unfaithful caretakers' use the opportunity given to them as a means of embezzling the universities fund. Instead of showing mercy to the poor students by using universities money in upgrading system, they find joy in adopting the method of 'I do not care'.

Teachers and Lecturers weaknesses as a Factor that affects Nigeria Education

When teachers and lecturers, who train the students on what to do are weak, the institution becomes a failed project. Yes! It becomes a real failed project because those who are guiding the students do not even know the path they, themselves, are to follow. The lecturers and teachers in many institutions are still making use of outdated textbooks to teach Nigerian students. Taking Biology, for instance, the old name of Carbon (IV) Oxide is Carbon dioxide. This old name is no longer invoke, but it is sad to hear that many instructors in institutions in Nigeria are still making use of it. Again, in technologically related courses, lecturers and teachers are still teaching the students on old technology without being updated on the recent and new ones.

Unqualified Instructors

Instructors in this context can be teachers or lecturers, who instruct students in schools and universities respectively. The problem with unqualified teachers is rampant in primary and secondary schools in the country. Most schools that are owned by private instead of government employ 'cheap products' to teach students in order to maximize profit. They (private proprietors) know that it will be expensive for them to get and pay qualified teachers and because of this go for the unqualified. What do you think will be the kind of service an unqualified teacher can give? In tertiary institutions, a similar thing is obtainable as Head of Departments, Deans and Vice Chancellors employ those that are related to them whether qualified or not. It is one of the reasons why many Nigeria universities are turning into a family business. The system of 'if your father, mother, uncle, niece, nephew, aunt or cousin is not a staff in this institution you will not be employee' is growing wing from day-to-day in the country. When University forgets about quality lecturers and employ because of relationship, the quality of training given to students becomes weak.


How can a country move forward without quality education? This write-up is the problem with Nigeria education. The education sector of Nigeria is weak. Government, Universities, and individuals should play a good part to enhance quality education in Nigeria. If we continue to leave the responsibility to the government alone, we may not achieve much in the sector.


  • Azeezat Adedigba (2017), 2018 Budget: Buhari allocates 7% to education, Premium Times publication, Nigeria
  • Nwafor Polycarp (2018), Education sector gets paltry N3.9 trillion out of N55.19 trillion in 10 years, Vanguard News publication, Nigeria


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    • Uzochukwu Mike profile imageAUTHOR

      Uzochukw Mike 

      4 years ago from Oba

      JTRyder, thanks for the comment. I believe things will get better in American education.

    • JTRyder profile image

      John Thomas Niswonger 

      4 years ago from Dayton, Ohio

      In America, one has to wonder how much of the broken education system is created (or destroyed) by greed and graft and how much is an intentional ploy to keep the masses just educated enough to show up to work, but not educated enough to question what they are told to do.


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