Early Child Education

In 1999, the Nigerian government introduced Universal Basic Education, a programme to provide free primary and secondary education for all. This programme was created after several unsuccessful attempts at improving education in the country. Unfortunately, although there has been some improvements in enrolment in recent years, its results have been limited and Nigeria’s educational system still rates very poorly in most international rankings.

The challenge

Nigeria gained its independence from British rule in 1960, but it took time to develop its own educational system. “Prior to 1977 Nigeria operated an educational policy inherited from Britain at independence. The inability of this policy to satisfy the national aspirations of the country rendered it unpopular. During the 1970s, the foundations were laid for a new policy, and in 1976 the Universal Primary Education (UPE) programme was launched, but it was widely considered to be unsuccessful. “A National Seminar was organised by the National Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) in 1973… This gave rise to the National Policy on Education in 1977. The policy was then revised in 1981 and 1990 to try to ensure that the education sector was supportive of government development goals.

School enrolment was still low at the beginning of 1990s – as of 1990, gross enrolment ratio in primary school was at 86%, but it had dropped to a mere 25% by the time children reached secondary school. The education sector infrastructure also deteriorated and was neglected. In 1997, the federal minister of education – while on a nationwide tour of the country’s schools – allegedly stated that “the basic infrastructure in schools such as classrooms, laboratories, workshops, sporting facilities, equipment, libraries were in a state of total decay. The physical condition of most schools was reported to be pathetic.

The initiative

The Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme in Nigeria was launched in 1999, with the goal of providing “free, universal and compulsory basic education for every Nigerian child aged 6-15 years”. The programme, however, was not able to take off immediately after its launch as it did not have legal backing. Therefore, initial UBE-related activities were carried out only in areas of social mobilisation, infrastructural development, provision of instructional materials, etc. The UBE programme only took off effectively with the signing of the UBE Act in April 2004. For more details please refer to the embedded PDF Version of this document below:- 


Early Child Education