State of Public Primary Schools in Nigeria (A Case for Reform)

By Deji Adekunle

Education at all stages of its implementation, is generally said to be the building block of a nation. This is due to the fact that in society, there are certain skills individuals must possess in order to integrate and be productive. It’s effects reach various facets of the populace such as, the skill level of the nations workforce, the communication and understanding of policy and political discourse, and more importantly, the moral and patriotic philosophy engraved into the psyche of the general populace from childhood.

Data from National Bureau of Statistics have shown that primary education in Nigeria is below standard in many ways. For instance, the National Policy on Education (2013) states that Government should ensure that Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCDE) Centres adopts a caregiver infant ratio of 1:10 for Creche and 1:25 for Nursery. For Primary Education, the NPE states that the teacher pupil ratio should be 1:35.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO, the global ratio for the same period was 1:25.

However, data has shown that the teacher-pupil ratio in Nigerian public primary schools in 2014 was 1:40. This means that on the average, there are 40 pupils per teacher. This is opposed to the world wide ratio of 25 pupils per teacher and beyond the national limit of 1:35.

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 12.45.53 PM

This increases the workload on the teachers and thus reduces the quality of information passed down to the pupils. In the Junior Secondary level, the ratio is very positive at “26” while at the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCDE) level, it is worse at “55”. This shows a neglect of the educational system governing the early years of childhood development in Nigeria.

Questions have also been raised about the quality and qualifications of the teachers in primary education in the country. Same data shows that in the same year, only 67% of teachers possessed some form of qualification i.e National Certificate of Education or education related degrees. On further analysis, it is revealed that the southern part of the country had acceptable qualification ratios while the northern parts especially, the North East and North West region of the country had relatively low percentage of qualified teachers.


Due to various factors, it has also been seen that the completion rate of pupils in public primary schools need to be improved with un-improving drop-out rates across the nation especially in the rural areas.

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 12.45.24 PMThese factors call for a review of the system and increase in the quality and number of teachers and schools to cope with our ever increasing populace.

See full infographics