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Background to the Study

Prior to the advent of the Europeans into Nigeria, there existed indigenous education. This type of education, according to Fafunwa (1995), was multifaceted, all aimed at producing an honest, respectable, skilled and co-operative individual. Although the objectives of such education cannot be neatly distinguished, they included developing the child’s latent physical skills and character; inculcation of respect for elders and those in position of authority; acquisition of vocational training and development of intellectual skills, healthy attitude towards honest labour, sense of belonging and to participate actively in family and community affairs among others.

Western education was first introduced in Nigeria by the Christian missionaries. This was as far back as the second half of the 19th century. According to Taiwo (1986), the date was set at 1842. The missions notably, the Wesleyan Missionary Society, the Church Missionary Society (C.M.S), the Presbyterian Mission, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Society of African Missions, established schools at places like Lagos and Abeokuta. They set up, managed and maintained those schools without assistance from the governments of the day. The targets of the schools were children who were even not infrequently, noted Taiwo, enticed with gifts. He also noted that some parents were in the habit of demanding money as precondition for allowing their children go to school. The curriculum comprised mainly of reading, writing and arithmetic. Taiwo also noted that whenever a lady teacher was available, the girls were taught sewing.

Within this period, the government was indifferent towards funding education. This was pointed out by Taiwo (1986) and corroborated by Fafunwa (1995) who said that the expense for sustenance of education came from the donations from friends of the missionaries and from some philanthropic organizations and individuals. The latter also noted that some missionaries had to use part of their salaries for the expense of the boarding schools. Equally, Mgbodile (2004) affirmed that government’s assistance to the missionaries between 1870 and 1876 were neither here nor there.

For more than four decades after the arrival of Thomas Birch Freeman (the Wesleyan Missionary) in 1842, education in Nigeria was still the sole concern of the missions. However, in 1882, the government of the time (for the first time) seemed decided to also turn attention to education. This turning of attention to education was heralded by the issuance of the first education ordinance for the Promotion and Assistance of Education in the Gold Coast colony (comprising Gambia, the Gold Coast and Lagos, Nigeria). In the opinion of Taiwo (1986), this was the first legislation which favoured Lagos and also established government’s control over education. This ordinance generally specified how education was to be run in these colonies. It came out boldly declaring for the first time, at least officially, government’s disposition and readiness to advance some measure of grants to education providers. Thus, the observation of Onwuka (1997) and Mgbodile, (2004) is that the colonial government demonstrated interest for the first time in the running of education in West Africa by giving the grants of £200 (Two hundred pounds) each to the Church Missionary Society (C.M.S.), the Catholic Church and Methodist Missionaries.

This remained the status quo until the emergence of the 1886 education code which was marked by both an increase in the grants and the reposition of the Lagos colony (Onwuka, 1997). The 1886/87 code, noted Taiwo (1986), also ushered in the principle of partnership in education between the government and the missionaries. This partnership, according to Taiwo, resulted in the ‘system of dual education’ in which the government, on the one hand, gave support to the missions, and on the other hand, singly funded secondary education. Taiwo noted that the government thus accepted for the first time some responsibility for secondary education through the provision of grants-in-aid to secondary schools and also by awarding scholarship to deserving students.

Between 1906 and 1912, education in the colony and the protectorate of Southern Nigeria flourished, marked by increased government participation in the actual provisions made for education and the encouragement received by both the voluntary agencies and local communities in funding schools. Award of grants remained government’s control strategy. People asked for schools and these were offered them. Enrolment in government schools increased from 639 in 1905 to 4,571 in 1909 and to 5,682 in 1912. There was also remarkable growth in the number of the various categories of schools. The number of assisted schools rose from 20 in 1905 to 90 in 1912, with a combined figure rising from 1,366 (including non-assisted schools) in 1905 to 15,426 (Taiwo, 1986).

All these marked the scenario of the flowering of education in the Southern part of Nigeria, a feature that was in sharp contrast to what was happening in the Northern part. In his critical evaluation of the situation, Onwuka (1997) noted that education did not as well flourish in the Northern Protectorates as was the experience in the South. This, according to him, was consequent on the long existing Islamic education practice and culture which could not allow the introduction of Western education in the area.

Not long after the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates by Lord Lugard in 1914 (specifically, it was in 1916), an education ordinance on grants-in-aid to voluntary agencies came into force. This ordinance had ample provisions on financial assistance to schools. This, as was noted by Onwuka (1997), enhanced the cooperation between government and voluntary agencies in the provision of education. Also, in 1925, the first Education Policy in British Tropical Africa was issued. This ordinance also emphasized co-operation between the government and other educational agencies (Onwuka, 1997).

This flowering of interest in education by the government of the day was no less obvious even as regional governments were introduced in British-colonial Nigeria. In 1955, free primary education was introduced in the Western Region of Nigeria. Within this period, Taiwo (1986) stated, 391, 859 children were streamed into 6,274 schools for primary 1, joining other children in the higher classes of the six-year programme of the region. It is also observed by Onwuka (1997) that a similar programme of free primary education was introduced in the East in 1957. However, these programmes could not be sustained due to certain problems which included poor planning (Utibe,  2001), unreliable data, inadequate funding, massive enrolment, insufficient classrooms, lack of trained teachers, non-availability of facilities and equipment, incoherent implementation of the curriculum and inadequate supervision (Adewole, 2000).

Post colonial Nigerian governments of the day did not let go in this regard as they continued to show interest in education. Thus, in 1976, Olusegun Obasanjo (then military head of state) launched the Universal Primary Education (UPE). The UPE was just free and universal but with the hint of becoming compulsory in 1979 (Taiwo, 1986). Primary education under the scheme was to last six years. The scheme, noted Fafunwa (1995), was a giant step which emancipated Nigeria education from the strictures of services to the rich few and granted many Nigerians the freedom of educational opportunities. Though the aim of improving the overall school enrolment in the country was achieved, the programme eventually failed due to some obvious reasons such as poor planning, inadequate funding among others (Denga, 2000).

The world concern for basic education was first openly declared in an international conference on world crisis in education held in Paris in 1968. In it, among other things, it was recommended that basic education should be taken seriously by every country of the world. Consequently, international discourse for basic education, its importance and the need to pursue it with vigor continued till the Jomtien World Conference on Education For All (EFA) in 1990. This conference produced a blueprint document entitled, “World Declaration on Education For All” and framework for actions to meet basic learning needs (FGN/UNICEF, 2003). This conference also clarified for the world the full import of basic education.

The Jomtien conference motivated a number of other world and Pan-African conferences and summits which were held between 1990 and 2000. This period was referred to, in educational circles, as the Decade of World Summits. This period, noted Obanya (2002), witnessed nineteen conferences/congresses/summits and six related African regional conferences in which Nigeria participated fully. Major ones among them according to Okojie (2009) include:

  • The Jomtien (1990) Declaration and Frame work for action on Basic Education For All.
  • The New Delhi (1991/92) Declaration on E-9 countries (that is. the nine countries with the largest concentration of illiterates, of which Nigeria is one).
  • The OAU Decade of Education in Africa (1997-2006) on Inter-African Co-operation on Education with a strong emphasis on the vigorous pursuit of Basic Education (p.189).


Also, included in the provisions of fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is that government shall direct its policy towards ensuring equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels (FRN, 1999). As a demonstration of commitments to international protocol agreements and protocol by nations universalizing with the thrust of basic education for their citizens, Nigeria launched the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme. It is worthy of note that the UBE is a new innovative trend in Nigeria’s educational frame work particularly as it is programmed to be for 9 years. That is, it is designed to cater for a child’s education from primary school to the end of the Junior Secondary School. It is also expected to be universal, free and compulsory. This is, however, an expansion of the duration of the UPE to include the first three years of secondary education in the current UBE scheme (Enemuo, 2000).

The UBE programme covers the formal, adult, non-formal and early childhood education. The formal aspect of the basic education covers the six years of primary education and the first three years (JSS 1 – 3) of junior secondary education, culminating to nine years of continuous schooling. The focus of the UBE programme is education for life rather than for livelihood. It is an education for survival which its intent is to make its possessor a full functional member of the society. It is education for citizenship and civil responsibility (Ukeje, 2000). The UBE programme is meant to provide educational opportunities for all Nigerians of school age the social, economic, political, religious or ethnic affiliations notwithstanding. It makes provisions for adults who missed their opportunity as children, and even the nomads. To ensure the sustainability of the UBE programme, the federal government has put in place (as it seems) some provisions and allowances for its proper implementation as contained in the guidelines for the implementation of the programme (FRN, 2000).

The current UBE scheme in Nigeria can be said to be the product of earlier educational scheme, programmes and educational decisions. It is the offshoot of previous schemes, which could be said to have been bedeviled by problems, which the current scheme is expected to offset. It should be noted that educational activities of the 1950s laid the foundation stones for later educational developments in the 1960s and beyond (Aluede, 2006).

The launching of the UBE is a demonstration of commitment that Nigeria has embarked on a journey to adopt the prevailing definition of basic education to her current environmental realities and developmental aspirations. It also indicates that Nigeria is as well on the journey to join the global community by keeping to her commitment as a signatory to the global agreement to promote basic education for all her citizens.

The training of children and adolescents in the norms and aspirations of the nation is a very veritable instrument for national integration and development. It was expected that educational reforms or re-organization would be carried out to enable Nigeria’s education cater for the future professional needs (Ayeni, 2000). The restructuring is important, if we are to expect optimal result from our envisaged objectives of education. The Federal Government’s involvement in the organization of UBE scheme was therefore necessary if the integration of the nationals was to be achieved. The scheme was also desirable to enable the Federal Government ensure that children are taught the culture of the society. The desire to inculcate in children the knowledge of literacy, numeracy and the ability to communicate made the UBE scheme worthwhile.

The UBE programme contains laudable objectives which include:

  • to develop in the entire citizenry a strong consciousness for education and a strong commitment to its promotion;


  • to provide free, universal basic education for every Nigerian child of school going age; and


  • to reduce remarkably the incidence of drop-out from formal school system (FRN, 2000).


Education has been considered an instrument par excellence for national development (FRN, 2004). Hence, the UBE objectives are deemed sure steps towards the achievement of both individual and national development. The development of strong consciousness for and the commitment to educational promotion is of great necessity as the National Policy on Education (FRN, 2004:7) has declared that “education fosters the worth and development of the individual, for each individual’s sake, and for the general development of the society”. The explosion is expected since governments of the day, among other things, cater for funding, provide facilities and instructional materials, and create room for teacher training. Thus education is not just free but encouraging as the latent talents and potentialities of pupils and students are manifested and realized for individual and societal development. Hence, the dropout, rate which Mgbodile (2002) estimated at 36 percent in 1996 (before the launching of UBE) by putting the completion rate of primary school pupils in Nigeria at 64%, will be reduced by the UBE programme. So, students will have the desire for achievement and improvement both at school and in later life. The UBE is also intent on providing opportunity for functional literacy for adults who have not had any formal schooling or those who misused the time for formal education. For example, the business men will develop manipulative skills and usage of computers and therefore attain sophisticated improvement in their daily business activities.

Another plus to the UBE objectives (when fully implemented) is the appreciation of Nigerian values. These values, according to Ukeje (2009), include discipline, productivity, right attitude to work, national consciousness, honesty, sense of right and responsibility, concern for others, among others. One of the national goals is to build self reliant nation (FRN, 2004). Any nation with self reliant citizens is certainly a self reliant nation. UBE programme will operate on the premise of the national educational goals as derived from the educational philosophy: to inculcate in the youths the right type of values and attitudes for the survival of the individual and the Nigerian society.

The UBE objectives will ensure the acquisition of intellectual abilities and capacities by the Nigerian citizens to enable them understand and adapt themselves to the various problems and changing situation. Thus, the socio-political, economic, technological, human and industrial development of the country will be better achieved than desired. Self fulfillment is achieved through development of the cognitive, affective and psychomotor potentials for an effective functioning in a modern society (Ukeje, 2000). Thus, education, which is considered an investment in human capital, will have its dividend in proper and rapid development of the society. In essence therefore, the UBE objectives are directed towards preparation for life. These objectives are meant to explore all available avenues to enable children reach their optimum development as individuals. They will thus become useful, responsible and participating members of their society. Basic education satisfies human needs for knowledge, provides means of helping to meet other basic needs, and helps to sustain and accelerate overall development (Kwapong, 1995).

If fully implemented, the UBE programme will go a long way in calming the anxiety and despair of many concerned stakeholders in education. Many parents and educational experts, for instance, are uncomfortable about the educational system in Nigeria. The National Chairman, Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Comrade Mike Olukoya, lamented the sorry state of primary and secondary education in the country which, according to him, is seriously being balkanized by the private sector involvement in provision and management of education (Komolafe, 2010). The Chairman also noted that it was due to the government’s inattention to the union’s demand to revamp the public schools that has led to the last NUT strike which would have lasted longer than it did save for the intervention of the Governors’ Forum. Little wonder then, the union applauded the federal government for launching the UBE programme. According to the union, the government has thus recognized the global clamour for Education For All (EFA) as a vital instrument for social and political mobilization and economic development. The union, however, cautioned that for the UBE to bear the required fruit, the teachers who constitute the executors should be adequately motivated and remunerated (NUT, no date).

In a similar tone, the quest for the improvement of education has been a major factor in the persistent industrial actions of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in recent times. The three-month industrial action of the union in the second half of 2009 stands to corroborate this claim. The union demanded, among other things, that the annual budgetary allocation for education should be reasonably increased (Abati, 2009). When this is responded adequately to, UBE programme will stand to be properly funded so as not to suffer the same fate of the defunct UPE of 1976, and therefore pave way for other stages of education in the country. Hence, sustained UBE programme will be a sure promise to such yearning of concerned Nigerians.

Yet, there is the fear that the UBE promises stand to be threatened by the current call for deregulation, a contemporary doctrinaire world economic policy. As an offshoot of globalization, deregulation is a market-force driven policy whereby government removes partially or totally, certain regulations which hitherto shielded government-owned institutions, enterprises and/or other business monopolies from the rigors of stiff competition in the provision of goods and services to the general public. This is done by way of subsidies, tax exemption and the likes while leaving other non-governmental organizations to fight their way out in the open market forces. With the removal of such restrictions, non-governmental bodies, agencies, groups, institutions or individuals are allowed to participate in the ownership and management of businesses and enterprises for the production and provision of goods and services to the general public. They do so to succeed or fail at their own expense.

However, the rationale for deregulation and what obtained in the practice may not synchronize. The government’s reason, noted Onwuka (2005), behind deregulation is that through such a policy programme implementation in any sector of the economy (oil, education and any other), there will be healthy competition for better services and at cheaper rates. But following from the argument of Enemuo (2005), deregulation leans towards the principle of the ‘user pays’. Consequently, services will be profit informed. Thus, the prices, which are no longer determined by the government but by the private service providers, are going to be exorbitant.

Extended to the education sector, deregulation would mean the participation of the private sector in the provision of education services. In such a setting, while the government sets the standard, it relegates the funding and administrative responsibilities to the voluntary agencies, missions, organizations and/or individuals that provide education. With this reduction of government’s control over education, Onwuka (2005) observed, the autonomy of the individual parents in the control of their children’s schooling will be increased. The argument for education deregulation is to reduce cost and increase standard.

There is the fear that in a deregulated milieu, this profit-oriented venture may pose a serious threat to the basic education programme of UBE. In spite of the UBE’s intent on provision of free and universal education, many children of school age have not been in school, even years after the inception of the programme. This, of course, heightens the fear. Take for instance,  available data as updated July, 2009 indicate the enrolment percentages into primary education in Nigeria few years after the launching of the UBE programme as follows: 1999 = 59.4%; 2000 = 62.0%;2003= 62.5%; 2004 = 63.9%; 2005 = 64.6%; and 2006 = 65.2% (source:

The data above show a steady increase in the enrolment of the children over the years but the varying percentages of those in school over the years indicate that some children were still not in school. The implication is that even though parents are required to make little financial contribution in the education of their children under UBE programme, many of the parents are still unable to do so.

Even those already in school may not all be able to complete. It has been established that more than half of all pupils in sub-Saharan Africa do not complete primary school, and only 17% are enrolled in junior secondary school. Rates in rural areas are even worse. Access is only part of the story. Also, as highlighted by Education for All: The Quality Imperative, the 2005 Global Monitoring Report by UNESCO, too many children leave school without mastering a basic set of skills (Sperling, no date). Those who leave the school before completion are commonly seen in the society doing one artisan work or the other. Sometimes, some of them turn out to be social misfits and perpetrate all sorts of social vices like robbery, prostitution among others. If all these obtain now that the education sector is not yet fully deregulated, one wonders what will be the fate of so many parents when it is fully deregulated.

Statement of the Problem

Under the UBE programme, the sponsorship is solely that of the government while parents and guardians pay little or nothing in the education of their children/wards. Today, experiences continue to show that there are still children of school age who are not in school (consider for instance the street hawkers of school going-age) in Enugu State particularly. Also, many JSS students also leave school even before the completion of basic education. The reason is basically that, owing to their poor economic standard, a good number of parents and guardians are unable to cater for the education of their children and wards. This also explains why the poor parents have no choice of the education of their children.  Only the rich affords quality education for their children while the poor are left with the option of low quality education. Equally, the financial constraint has as well made it almost impossible for those whose education was interrupted to go back to school. These situations are on ground with mild education deregulation.

It is therefore foreseeable that when the education sector is fully deregulated, with the attendant high charges for services in a deregulated system, the rate of pupil enrolment into school will drastically reduce, and the incidence of drop out will be significantly on the increase. Such situations will eventually go against the national educational goals of building a dynamic economy and providing bright opportunities for all the citizens. There will be waste, or rather, misuse of human resources as some good brains would be negatively employed. This is because many would have been denied educational opportunities which would have helped them to develop their potentials towards self realization and national development. Under such development, any meaningful participation in the world market and global discourse and initiative must have been badly   affected.

So, eventually, the UBE objectives which are drawn from the national educational goals and philosophy must have been defeated. Thus, it is doubtful that education deregulation will reasonably help UBE to attain its objectives. Posing this concern in a question therefore, the problem is: will the objectives of the UBE be properly attained in a deregulated education system, particularly in Enugu State?

Purpose of the Study

Broadly, the purpose of this study is to investigate the extent to which deregulation of education can help in the attainment of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) objectives in Enugu State. Specifically, the study seeks:

  1. to find out the extent to which deregulation will help develop educational consciousness in the Junior Secondary School (JSS) students of Enugu State.
  2. to determine the extent to which deregulation will guarantee free, universal and basic education among Enugu State JSS children.
  3. to investigate how deregulation will reduce the rate of drop-out among the JSS students in Enugu State.
  4. to establish what prospects exist that deregulation supplements the educational needs of those whose JSS education was interrupted.


Significance of the Study

The study will offer a good opportunity for the evaluation of the neo-liberal economic theory of laissez-faire which guides this study. The study will be able to showcase the effect of the full introduction of deregulation into the education sector.   The work will be of immense significance to the various stakeholders in education: parents and/or guardians, students, teachers and the government.

The findings of the study will help the parents and guardians to realize that deregulation does not guarantee access to education for their children and wards. This is because, since deregulation is hinged on the principle of the ‘user pays’, the high fees charged by the private education service providers will stifle the parents’ autonomy in controlling their children’s education. Their choice of controlling the education of their children is limited.

The students will significantly benefit from this study because its findings will help them to know that educational consciousness cannot be developed and promotion of education cannot be pursued with vigor in a deregulated system. Deregulation divides the children into the rich and the poor. The interest of the poor children to pursue education will be low and will consequently lead to high rate of drop-out.

This study will also be of great benefit to the teachers. Through the findings of the study, they will discover that their yearning for basic education will be defeated because deregulation denies some children the access to such education. They will also find out that deregulation encourages drop-out syndrome through the exorbitant charges of the education service providers.

The findings of this study will also be significantly useful to the government and education policy makers who will have discovered that the well-intentioned UBE programme stands the risk of failure in a deregulated education system. They will be thus prompted to revisit and review the deregulation policy and have in place such policy articulation capable of ensuring, in practice, the attainment of the UBE goals and objectives.

Scope of the Study

The study is limited to the public secondary schools in Enugu State. It will investigate how far deregulation can develop educational consciousness among the JSS students; provide free and universal education for the JSS students; reduce the rate of school drop-out among the JSS students; and cater for the educational needs of those whose JSS education has been interrupted.


Research Questions

  1. What extent will deregulation develop educational consciousness in the JSS students of Enugu State?
  2. What extent will deregulation provide free, universal and basic education for the JSS children of Enugu State?
  3. How will deregulation reduce the incidence of drop-out among the JSS students in Enugu State?

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