In Nigeria, education continues to be tuned to the advantage of wealthier city people who have better chances of converting it into real jobs. This is exacerbated by poor facilities in rural areas. The process begins in primary school where children spend 6 years learning biblical and islamic studies studies, english language, mathematics, science, and an ethnic language according to geographical location (there are 3). At primary schools in cities, they may study computer science, french and art too. At the end of the first phase of their education children sit for their common entrance examination to study further.
The first 3 of 6 years of secondary education take place at junior secondary school which may be privately or state funded. Education is intended to be free although most state-owned institutions requite their students to purchase their books and uniforms, something which may be impossible for the poorest people.
It is during the three years of senior secondary school that the die is finally cast for the next generation in Nigeria. Tuition at elite private high schools is superb by any standards, and students write gce o levels just to prepare for their senior secondary school exams. Things are very different at rural secondary schools. Teachers are often undereducated and ill-prepared and schools may run out of allocated funds. Young people who do make it through the system still have a long struggle before them, if they are to truly succeed in life. Some do though.
It has been said that vocational education and job training is the missing link in Nigeria’s development plan. Certainly in rural areas facilities and motivation are sparse, for what is there afterwards but a life in fields for most. Those who drift to cities are fortunate enough to find work at all. Those who do acquire a trade are frequently children of the elite too. The government has plans in place to address this reality. In the meantime, little has been done to develop export markets for manufactured goods and create skilled work.
The government has adopted tertiary education as a mechanism for development and largely controls it. There are 27 universities and 13 polytechnic colleges that evolved since independence. The medium of instruction is English and the academic year runs from October to September.
There remains a less than inadequate fit between national priorities and university strategies. Since 1993 private universities have been allowed. According to the Nigerian government the Obafemi Awolowo University is the leading state institution, although none have made it to world rankings yet.