Monday, August 9, 2010


The state of education in Nigeria and the health of the nation

By Lawal yusuf


At the dawn of the year 2002, Nigeria is still uncertain where it is headed. In other words, her destination is still unknown. The Nigerian world has blamed the woes of Nigeria, and in particular that of the educational sector, to the many years of military misrule. There is the common feeling that the military neglected the universities because of their opposition to military rule. But with the re-emergence of civil rule the nation's educational institutions are still in shambles today, with university professors still not being paid on time. (Some may argue that the universities have started to claw their way back to normalcy with the reprise of civil rule – not democracy. See Bollag Feb 1, 2002). But that remains to be seen!

And the society is also being rocked by labor unrests prompted by nonpayment of salaries, among other factors. The latest strike action was the police, which the federal government branded 'an act of mutiny' (The Guardian On-line Feb 2, 2002; also see Chiahemen, Reuters, Feb 2, 2002).

If, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as democracy in Nigeria, it is because its past as well as its present history has become so interwoven into crises, which has often left the common man in constant struggle for survival. But for the riches and powerful corrupt politicians, things are very rosy. The role of the ordinary person in Nigeria in the making of democracy is, generally speaking, not regarded or not known at all, after casting his or her vote. And often the positive contributions of the people who struggled, and are still struggling, for the sustenance of democracy in the society have escaped the eyes of those who managed to rig their way into political offices. This is a terrible deviation from the norm. Nigeria is suffering terribly for that, with socio-political and economic crises strewn all over the society like a straw hut in a typhoon.

This paper attempts to bring into public domain the state of education in Nigeria, and its effect on the polity. With facts, judgment and understanding of the issues facing the nation, the paper argues that the survival of Nigeria as a viable society will depend on the health of her educational institutions, and how well the professors and support staff are treated. It portrays the state of education in Nigeria as a public-health issue.

Education in Nigeria: A public-health issue?

The role of education in the development of a society has been vastly documented in academic journals, and we do not intend to revisit it here. This section will concentrate on the need for Nigerian leaders to pay close attention to the needs of the educational sector, and treat it as a public-health issue, because the sociopolitical and economic development of a nation and (or her health) is, in many ways, determined by the quality and level of educational attainment of the population. Political leaders should take politics out of education, as the continued neglect of this sector would lead to social paralysis. The youth should be given the appropriate quality academic training and an environment that would enable them to reach their full potential.

Nigeria has toiled with some educational programs, which have only served as conduits to transfer money to the corrupt political leaders and their cronies. For instance, the nation launched the Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1976, but as noted, the program failed due to lack of fund necessitated by corruption, among other factors. Nigeria has again launched another mass-oriented education program, this time branding it the Universal Basic Education (UBE). The President, Olusegun Obasanjo, declared during the launching of the program in Sokoto that the nation "cannot afford to fail this time around." However, not long after that, the federal government reported that the falling standard of education in Nigeria is caused by "acute shortage of qualified teachers in the primary school level." It is reported that about 23 percent of the over 400,000 teachers employed in the nation's primary schools do not posses the Teachers' Grade Two Certificate, even when the National Certificate of Education (NCE) is the minimum educational requirement one should posses to teach in the nation's primary schools (Ogbeifum and Olisa; The Vanguard Online, July 1, 2001).

If one may ask: with the troubling revelations of the shortage and "half-baked" teachers employed to teach in the nation's schools, how are we certain the current UBE program will be successful? Has the government trained the required number and quality of teachers needed to successfully implement the program? Are the teachers going to be motivated to perform their duties well? Are the classrooms and seats ready, or are the pupils going to sit on bare floor? Are the books and other teaching materials ready? This writer has noted elsewhere that to improve the standard of education in Nigeria, the society has to first educate the educators, and motivate them to perform their duties well (Dike, July 14, 2000). But the leaders do not seem to want to listen!

However, the UNICEF in it's 'state of the world's children' report for 1999' pointed out that about four million Nigerian children have no access to basic education, and that majority of those that are 'lucky' to enter schools are given sub-standard education (Akhaine, Jan 10, 1999). Today, there are about 48,242 primary schools with 16,796,078 students in public schools and 1,965,517 in private schools in Nigeria. In addition, Nigeria has 7,104 secondary schools with 4,448,981 students (The Guardian, May 6, 1999; and Dike, 2001).

Most of these schools are in dilapidating states. This shows that Nigeria has a weird value system: it is a society where priorities are turned to their heads. For instance, the salaries of the less educated local government counselors are higher than that of university professors; it is a place where well known rouge, a 419 person, is applauded for donating money to local communities and churches; it is a place where nobody cares about how one makes his/her money; it is a place where the roads leading to million dollar homes are filled with potholes; and the society is a place where the streets in capital cities are littered with hips of thrash. And nobody cares! Something is obviously wrong with any society that does not take her educational institutions seriously.

Nevertheless, the increased need for higher education during the oil boom of the 1970s in Nigeria, coupled with political pressure, led to the establishment of many universities in the society. And 'an explosive expansion in enrolments' during this period marked the beginning of 'the decline in quality' of education in the society. In two decades, the number of university students increased eightfold, from about 55,000 in 1980 to more than 400,000 today (Bollag, Feb 1, 2002, A40). Now Nigeria has about 36 public universities, 46 polytechnics and 64 colleges of education (Dike, 1999, p. 54). In addition, four private universities have been approved and registered by the federal government. They are: Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State; Babcock University; Igbinedion University, Okada; and Madonna University (Oladeji, August 2, 2001).

As the ugly tradition of corruption persists, the public tertiary institutions have been left to rot away. Some of the loans received from the World Bank toward education during the 1990s were used to purchase unnecessary, and "expensive equipment" that "could not be properly installed or maintained, and many institutions received irrelevant and useless books and journals" (Bollag, Feb 1, 2002, A40). All these, including ubiquitous corruption, have contributed to the decline in the quality of instruction in Nigeria's educational institutions that were ones highly regarded. With the news of corruption still filling the pages of Nigeria newspapers and magazines, the apparent war on corruption in the society seem an impossible task, since those wagging the corruption-war are themselves as corrupt as a parrot.

Although Nigeria's educational institutions in general are in dire need, the most troubled of the three tiers is the primary education sector. The recent statistics on primary education available to this writer shows that there are about 2,015 primary schools in Nigeria with no buildings of any type. Classes are held under trees. The quality of lectures conducted under such an inhumane condition would not be anything to be proud of. With this dismal statistics, the government is still in the habit of allocating less money to the educational sector (see Tables A). If Nigeria's allocation to education is compared with that of other less affluent societies in Africa, the picture becomes more discouraging (see Table B).

Table A: Federal Government

Budgetary Allocation to Education

Year Allocation (%)

1995 7.2

1996 12.32

1997 17.59

1998 10.27

1999 11.12

2000 8.36

2001 7.00

Table B: Spending on Education (%GNP) for some African Countries as compared to Nigeria

Country % GNP

Angola 4.9

Cote d' Ivoria 5

Ghana 4.4

Kenya 6.5

Malawi 5.4

Mozambique 4.1

Nigeria 0.76

South Africa 7.9

Tanzania 3.4

Uganda 2.6

Sources for tables A & B: Extracted from, The African Dept; Reported by Jubilee 2000; Alifa Daniel: Intrigues in FG-ASUU

Face-off; see The Guardian On-line, June 17, 2001. Compiled by the author.

Relatively speaking, the above disheartening statistics show how insufficient Nigeria's allocation to the educational sector has been. One can only get what he or she has ordered! Nigeria has to change her value system and invest on education, which is the intellectual laboratory of any nation and the engine that propels the economy. It has been noted that 'without a formidable intellectual base' it is not likely that any society would move forward (Anya, June 19, 2001).

For that the success of any democratic system (which Nigeria now fiddles with) depends on the individuals' ability to analyze problems and make thoughtful decisions. And democracy, it has been argued, thrives on the productivity of its diverse constituency - a productivity fostered by free, critical, and creative thought on issues of common interest. But democratic values are nurtured on the fertile ground of basic education – a functional education with the right focus and correct scope (Marzano, et. al, 1988).

With everybody chasing the shadow of money, and with the pittance sum invested yearly on education, how could the system produce the critical and creative minds Nigeria needs to guide and manage democratic system and survive as a viable nation? If the society continues to neglect her schools, it could not educate her citizens. Consequently, the political landscape would be littered with illiterate politicians, and the society would be incapable of gathering and maintaining a reasonable database for national planning and other development programs. To avoid this, the political leaders should begin now to re-order their priorities, as their priorities have so far been dictated by how much they will gain from any policy decision (by ways of contracts), and not how they will benefit the society as a whole.

Thus, lack of good education and unemployment in Nigeria would contribute to many social ills, including crime, prostitution, and the break down in law and order. For this, the society should invest more on the youth, and educate them to differentiate rights from wrong before they become adults. As Rousseau has noted: "People, like men [and women are] amenable only when they are young; in old age they become incorrigible. Once [bad habits] and customs are established and prejudices ingrained, it is a dangerous and futile enterprise to try to reform them; the people cannot bear to have the diseases treated, even in order to destroy it, like those stupid and fearful patients who tremble at the sight of the physician" (Rousseau - trans. by Betts; 1994, p. 80).

Therefore, to move forward the government should adopt necessary policies to destroy the current bad value system in the society, and create conducive environment that would enable the educational institutions to engage in healthy competitions, raise funds through private donations and grants, and attract and retain qualified students financially positioned to pay tuitions. (Higher education in Nigeria should not be free. If one would pay for any service, one could afford to complain, or move to an institution where he/she could get the money's worth of service. This, however, does not mean that diplomas should be sold to the highest bidder. Also the universities should develop a system whereby students could transfer to schools of their choice (and change their major) if they are qualified, without it adversely impacting their studies. And university admissions should be based strictly on merit, without ethnically and state-based criteria, which have unfortunately colored the system). All these are not available in system currently. If these suggestions are implemented they would, among other things, help the institutions of higher learning to prepare grounds for more intense academic competition, and to attract better quality teachers by "rebuild [ing] a culture of scholarship which has been eroded by under funding" so as to motivate them to be more productive (Bollag, Feb 1, 2002, A40). And any institution that cannot survive should be allowed to wither. Improving the condition of things in this sector would pave the way to the nation's prosperity.

It is known (at least in the developed world) that education determines, not only earning capacity, but also the very quality of human life (even longevity has relationship to education). In a society that appreciates educated class, those with good education tend to earn higher incomes; they also are in a better position to leave a better and healthy live. Higher education gives one a greater sense of how to reduce risks in life and change their behaviour. As Davies noted, confidence, self-reliance, and adaptability are all earmarks of advanced education (Davies, Nov 30, 2001, B16-B17).

Comparatively, many uneducated people, in general, have myriad bad habits that cause or lead to illness. For instance, they can smoke or drink more than it is necessary, and tend to have more children. (As this writer noted during his recent trip to Nigeria, some of the less educated and unemployed villagers he talked with have about eight or more children. And they are proud of that – but the children are suffering. Many of them drink and eat whatever that is offered to them without limitation and cognizant of the health consequences). Higher education could be an important part in the solutions to the ills of the society. As noted earlier, how much a nation progresses has a lot to do with the quality of education and educational attainment of its citizens. That's why Nigeria should build and maintain good schools and treat the sordid state of education as public-health crisis in society.

Education and Basic Needs

Building good schools for the education of the population does not guarantee automatic good health to the people. The society must take care of the basic needs of the people – portable water, food, good roads and habitable environment (the streets are filled with garbage). The voiceless - the unemployed, the old and disabled – should be taken care of. The funds for all these services are currently diverted to individual purses by corrupt politicians, whom the people elected to protect them. The society should offer education that provides adults with the skills and knowledge they need to secure a job and to compete in the technologically advanced world economy. And it should find a way to reward those (teachers and others outside academia) who have contributed positively in creating new ideas and jobs in the society. Nigeria can sustain economic growth based on technology if a good number of the adult working population can read and write well, and be able to make productive use of the computers and information technologies. "According to a recent World Bank study, employers complain that the quality of university graduates [and secondary school graduates], especially their communication skills, has fallen continually for two decades" (Bollag, Feb 1, 2002, A41).

Improvement in their communication skill and the use of the computers and information technologies will increase their productivity, and in the long run translate into lasting, durable and participatory democracy. All these mean the need to positively transform the society, especially the educational sector, into a viable sector.

The need to improve higher education should begin with giving greater attention to our preschool, elementary, secondary, and vocational schools. These areas are the building blocks of society's educational foundation, as not everyone needs a university education. Thus, the society must make meaningful use of the current Universal Basic Education (UBE) program, which is expected to provide free education to children between the ages of seven to seventeen (Umar and Adoba, ThisDay, 12/6/01). In addition to the free primary education, the government should guarantee free lunch for the needy students, as no child can learn while hungry. To supplement the efforts of the government, the private sector should assist in the form of financial and material donations, and collaborate with institutions of higher learning to help the primary and secondary schools to improve their teaching standards, governance, and their community relations.

If Nigeria can not give adequate and quality education to students at the elementary and secondary level, the tertiary institutions would continue to be populated by those who are least prepared to face the rigors of university education. And 'cultism,' 'intimidation of professors into better grades' and other vices will continue to blossom on the campuses across the nation.

States and Federal governments should also device ways and means of helping financially handicapped students in higher institutions, in ways of making available affordable financial loans to enable needy students to complete their education. As in the United States (and other humane societies), 'merit-based' and 'need-based' approach policy could be adopted in the process of putting the loan policy in place (King, March 1999). And adequate machinery should be put in place to collect the loan from students as soon as they find employment. Nigeria has the resources to implement a good student loan program, but as always, her problems have been corruption and implementation (the old student-loan program in the society died because of this).

Private financing of higher education could contribute immensely to improving both the financial situations of the institutions and their quality of education. And the privatization of public institutions that cannot improve on their standard would not be a bad idea (Callan, et al. (eds.), October 1997); see also Maeroff, Callan and Usdan, January 2000). Poor schooling, ignorance, poverty, and unemployment or underemployment among the youths could lead to their being easily manipulated by the political elites for selfish purposes. That will spell danger for the society, as this group will become the nation's leaders of tomorrow. How can Nigeria manage a complex democratic process without educated, critical and creative minds?

Thus, to stamp out insatiable greed, ignorance and corruption in the polity and affect positive changes in the society, the 2003 election year is the time to act. The people should vote only those with integrity to political office, because as Jean-Jacques Rousseau notes, "it is only men [and women] of integrity who can administer the law…." (Rousseau, trans. by Betts; 1994, p.14) The society should only support political parties and individuals who value and support quality education, not in word, but in deeds. Good quality education and good value system in a society is known to affect the quality of the leaders in any society. The political leaders of Nigeria should find constructive ways to work with those in academia to improve and upgrade the nation's educational standard, instead of fighting and clobbering them to death for criticizing the government's lacklustre educational policy. President Olusegun Obasanjo has recently taken pride in punching and kicking ASUU with verbal assault (The Guardian Online, Dec 9, 2001).

His attack on the university professors seems to suggest that the teachers are the cause of the present poor state of the nation's educational institutions. There could be some bad eggs in the system. But in general, how could one believe that the person who works hard, often without pay and other personal sacrifices is the one causing the downfall of the sector he/she is striving to protect? And President Obasanjo's recent insensitivity and outburst at the angry thousands displaced by the recent explosions in Ikeja show a mark of irresponsibility and lost sense of purpose on his part. At the people who lost loved ones, he shouted at them after thinking that they were unruly: "Shut up. I took the opportunity of being here to see what could be done. I don't need to be here." "After all, the governor of the state is here, the General Officer Commanding Two Division and the Brigade Commander as well as the Police Commissioner were all here. These sets of people could between them do what needs to be done. I really don't need to be here" (The Guardian Online, Jan 31, 2002). As a leader and the servant of the people, President Obasanjo has no excuse to behaving in the manner he did. He should quit if he has nothing more to offer. As Americans would say, 'if you cannot take the heat, you should get out of the kitchen!'

Really, President Olusegun Obasanjo should not lead Nigeria at this technology age. He is, in the opinion of this writer, the president the nation should not have had. He could be a good military General, but he does not have a good manner of approach and the skill to lead a civil society. And he lacks the appropriate national objectives and strategies to solve the problems facing the academic sector and the nation at large.


With the reprise of civil rule in May 29, 1999, Nigerians expected instant solutions to the nation's myriad problems. But the future is still uncertain! Politics with bitterness, politics with selfish purpose, politics of moneybags (and not ideology), and politic of Sharia, and politics of ethnicity and division colored with political assassinations tend to defeat the purpose of the struggles to chase the military out of politics. The political leaders and political parties in Nigeria should change their sordid ways and be ready to make their views and visions known to the public through their manifestos and policy actions, and not engage in fists fights with those who disagree with them, or trying to eliminate them with cutlasses, guns through hired thugs, and even with charms. They should leave their lives by showing good examples, as our children learn more from what they see us do than from what we say. Yes, the youth deserve something better! This does not mean that we would create utopian society for them. As Albert Camus notes: Perhaps we cannot make this a world in which children do not suffer." "But we can lessen the number of suffering children. And if you and I do not do this, who will?"

Thus, without treating education as a public-health issue that requires serious attention, the youth will continue to receive inferior education; they will continue to suffer mass unemployment and armed bandits will continue to rise; the society will continue to have illiterates and non-leaders as political leaders; the society will continue to have political parties without ideology, and Nigeria will continue to fall behind economically, socially and politically.


Ajayi, Rotimi, Kingsley Omonobi and Kenneth Ehigiator; Obasanjo apologizes, cancels US trip. Ogohi allays fears over Naval Base, Ojo. The Guardian Online, Jan 31, 2002.

Anele, Douglas, "government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich." The Vanguard, November 25, 2001

Anya, Anya O., "The dreams, vision and myth of Nigerian reality" The Guardian Online, June 19, 2001

Aristotle (Trans. by J.S. Sinclair, 1962). Politics. Penguin Books, England, pp.116-192

Awosika, Kofo. "Destination unknown," The Guardian Online, July 5, 2001

Bollag, Burton. Nigerian Universities Start to Recover From Years of Violence, Corruption, and Neglect, The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 1, 2002, A40-A42.

Callan, Patrick M. and Joni E. Finney with Kathy Reeves Bracco and William R. Doyle (Edited), October 1997: Public and Private Financing of Higher Education: Shaping Public Policy for the Future. American Council on Higher Education, Series in Higher Education/Oryx Press.

Chiahemen, John; "Nigeria Orders Army Deployment as Police Mutiny"; Reuters – Lagos, Feb 2, 2002.

CNN: Buenos Aires, Argentina: Dec 21, 2001 – "Argentina Presidential Elections set for March 3"

Davies, Gordon K., The Chronicle Review, Nov 30, 2001, ppB16-B17

Dike, Victor; Democracy and Political Life in Nigeria; Ahmadu Bello University Press, Zaria, Nigeria, December 2001.

Dike, Victor; Leadership, Democracy, and the Nigerian Economy: Lessons from the Past and Directions for the Future [Sacramento: The Lightning Press, 1999].

Dike, Victor; The Universal Basic Education Program: Educating the Educators in Nigeria. Online posting -, July 14, 2000

Djebah, Oma Return to the Wild, Wild West?; ThisDay. 12/25/2001

King, Jacqueline E. "Financing a College Education: How It Works, How It's Changing;" March 1999, Oryx Press).

Madu, Emeka. "More Than 200 Reportedly Die in Nigeria Religious Riots;" Reuters (Kano), October 14, 2001.

Marzano, et al. Dimensions of Thinking: A Framework for Curriculum an Instruction. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Virginia (1988), p.2

Maeroff, Gene I., Patrick M. Callan, and Michael D. Usdan (Eds.). The Learning Connection: New Partnerships Between Schools and Colleges; Teachers College, Columbia University/Teacher College Press, January 2001

Ogbeifum, Sam and Evelyn Olisa. "Half-baked teachers bane of education woes;" The Vanguard Online, July 1, 2001.

Oladeji, Bayo; "More private varsities coming – FG;" The Nigerian Tribune online, August 2, 2001.

Onuorah, Madu and Aniete Ben-Akpan; "Govt Releases N1b To Pay Police;" The Guardian On-Line, Feb 2, 2002.

Reuters (Ibadan, Nigeria); "Nigerian says killed minister for one min naira", Dec. 27, 2001

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (trans. by Betts). The Social Contract; Oxford University Press, 1994; p. 14; p. 80.

The Guardian Online: "Money and politics of bitterness." August 2, 2001.

The Guardian Online: May 6, 1999

Umar, Bature and Iyefu Adoba: "Senate Passes UBE Bill" ThisDay, 12/6/01

William, Alabi; Unending Feud Between Government and ASSU, The Guardian on-line, Dec 9, 2001

Victor Dike, who is the author of Democracy and Political Life in Nigeria [Zaria: Ahmadu Bello University Press, December 2001], is an Information Technology Instructor at the California College of Technology, Sacramento, California, and an adjunct Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems with the Los Rios Community College District, Sacramento, California.

To order Democracy and Political Life in Nigeria [Zaria: Ahmadu Bello University Press, December 2001], please contact: Ahmadu Bello University Press Limited (or The Book Store), P.M.B. 1094, Zaria – Nigeria; Email:; Or Professor Enwere Dike, Dept of Economics, ABU, Zaria – Nigeria; Email:

Tuesday, 05 February 2002

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About ICAN

Welcome to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria created by an Act of Parliament No. 15 of September 1, 1965.

Mission Statement

To Produce World-Class Chartered Accountants, Regulate and Continuously Enhance Their Ethical Standards and Technical Competence in the Public Interest.

Objects and Duties

The objects and duties of the Institute as laid down in section 1 (1) of the Act, are:

(a) “determining what standards of knowledge and skill are to be attained by persons seeking to become members of the accountancy profession and raising those standards from time to time as circumstances may permit;

(b) securing in accordance with the provisions of the Act, the establishment and maintenance of registers of Fellows, Associates and Registered Accountants entitled to practise as accountants and auditors and publishing from time to time lists of those persons; and

(c) performing through the Council under this Act the functions conferred on it by the Act.”





The Kwara State Polytechnic invites all candidates who have applied for admission into the Institution to visit KwaraPoly website to register for the Admission Screening Exercise. Registration for the Screening Exercise commences on Wednesday 28th July 2010 and ends Sunday, 15th August, 2010. The Screening Exercise, which will be computer based, shall take place at the Kwara State Polytechnic, Permanent Site, Old Jebba Road, Ilorin, commencing from Monday 23rd August, 2010.


Category One for UTME Applicants:

Candidates must have made Kwara State Polytechnic their First and/or Second choice and scored a minimum of 180 marks in the 2010 UTME.

Category Two for Pre ND (Full-Time), ND Part-Time, HND (Part Time and Full Time) Applicants.


A sum of N3, 500 is required for the screening exercise. An Etranzact electronic PIN can be obtained from any Commercial Bank after which the applicant will load the PIN to make payment during the online registration. Note that bank charges are exclusive of the above. ENSURE YOU HAVE THE PIN BEFORE YOU COMMENCE REGISTRATION BECAUSE YOU WILL NEED TO FILL IN THE PIN CONFIRMATION ORDER NUMBER TO MAKE PAYMENT DURING THE ONLINE REGISTRATION PROCESS.

Applicants should come along to the Screening Centre with the original documents and also take note of the following:

JAMB online result slip for the 2010 UTME applicants or the Acknowledgement Card for the second category of applicants.

The UTME candidates will use the JAMB Registration No. for the Screening Exercise while the seconds category of candidates will use their Form No.

Schedule Slip which will be printed last after making the online payment during the KwaraPoly Online registration.

Barriers to effective education in Nigeria



It is common knowledge that Nigeria does not have a well- articulated and explicit national language policy that can be found in one document. But it is also common knowledge that Nigeria does have a national policy for languages in education and, by default and implication, in the polity. This policy is, sometimes, explicitly and, sometimes obliquely, stated in:

(a) Sections (and for the types levels of education specified) of "The Federal Republic of Nigeria: National Policy on Education, Lagos: Federal Ministry of Information, (1977, revised 1981") thus:

Section 1: Philosophy of Nigerian Education

2: Paragraphs 9 and 11, for Pre-Primary Education

3: Paragraphs 14 and .15(4) for primary Education

4: Paragraphs 18, 19(4) and 27 for Secondary Education

5: Paragraphs 32 and 37 for Higher Education, including professional Education

6: Technical Education

7: Paragraphs 51 and 52: Adult and Non-formal Education.

(b) Chapter X `Special Issues in Nigerian Politics' Paragraphs 270 - 272, pp. 62 - 63 entitled: `National Language' of the Government Views and Comments on the Findings of Recommendations of the Political Bureau (1987).

(c) Sections 19(4); 21; 53; and 95 of The Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria (1989).

(d) The Cultural Policy for Nigeria (1988: 16-17).


The de facto National Policy on Languages (in Education) recognises the multidimensional, multi-lingual three tier political-polity which tries to capture the multi-ethnic and, ipso facto, multi-lingual polity which Berlin and the British have hammered into a rough-hewn existence.

The Policy provides for:

(i) Mother-Tongue (MT) and\or Language of the immediate community (LIC) as the Language of initial literacy at the pre-primary and junior, primary levels, and of adult and non-formal education.

(ii) The three major(national) Languages - Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba at L2 as the languages of national culture and integration.

(iii) English - the official language - as the language of formal literacy, the bureaucracy, secondary and higher education, the law courts, etc.

(iv) Selected foreign languages especially, French, and Arabic, as the languages of international communication and discourse. These are the languages for which language villages have been set up. In terms of unstated policy, the NPE policy on languages:

(i) Advocates multilingualism as the national goal.

(ii) Recognises English as the de facto official language in the bureaucracy and all tiers of formal education.

(iii) Treats Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba as potential national languages which are to be developed and used as LO and L2 all through the formal educational system.

(iv) All Nigerian languages as meaningful media of instruction in initial literacy, and in life-long and non-formal education. Tables 1 and 2 below schematically present what should be the facts of languages in Nigerian education with respect to literacy and formal education.


Initial Formal Adult

Type of (Nursery, Primary) (Senior Secondary) (Literacy Literacy JSS Tertiary extension)

Language Sole Medium intensive study

MT(including of as subject

Pidgin) instruction

L2 intensive study intensive study elective

(including for functional as subject (?)

Pidgin) literacy as a subject

English Intensive study medium of

as a subject instruction and study as beginning in JSS intensive subject subject

Foreign intensive subject

(Arabic & in

French) selected schools

(Culled from Emenanjo, 1985: 129)


Nursery Primary 12345 Jnr. Sec. 789 Snr. Sec. 10,11,12

MT(including Sole Medium Sole Medium Main Medium Core

Pidgin) of of of subject

instruction instruction instruction

L2 -- Core subject Core subject Elective



English -- Core subject Core subject Main medium

of instruction


(Arabic &

French) -- -- Elective? Elective?

(Adapted from Emenanjo, 1985: 129)


Status of Official Indigenous Exogenous

Languages Languages Languages Languages

Name English L4 1. Mother Tongue (L1) French (L5)

2. Language of Vicinity (L2)

3. Major Nigerian Language (s) L3

Status Compulsory 1. Compulsory in Lower Primary

2. Compulsory in Lower Primary Optional

3. Optional?

This table is not as complex as it looks because it makes some provision for a six-language situation. The truth, however, is that we will be confronted with a three-language situation thus:

(i) L1 = (L2) = L3 = L1

(ii) L4 = L2

(iii) L5/L6 = L3

Thus L1 is a Nigerian Language; L2 is British and L3 is either another Nigerian Language, French or Arabic.

Whereas most Southerners who are non-Moslem will have French as L3, most Northerners who are Moslem will have Arabic as L3. The resultant picture is the triglottic - mother tongue, other tongue and further tongue model that Brann (1980 -1989) has consistently analysed for Nigeria. See the attached socio- linguistic Pyramid for Nigeria as devised by Brann (1989).


Many critiques exist about the explicit languages' aspect of the National policy on Education. Bamgbose (ed. 1972), Brann (1977; 1980; 1982), Chumbow (1986), Jibril (1986), Emenanjo (1985) constitute a sample.

Among the problematic questions asked are:

(i) Don't the statement on language constitute just a statement of intent rather than a serious programme for implementation?

(ii) If the mother tongue (MT) or the language of the immediate community is considered so important at the pre-primary level as an integral part of the child's culture and the link between the home and the school, why should it be "principal" and not "solely" used at this level?

(iii) If the mother tongue or the language of the immediate community is considered a very important medium for achieving initial and permanent literacy and numeracy, why should it be only used `initially' and not throughout the whole of primary education. The Ife SYPP and "experimental" MT projected in Niger Republic have confirmed that those who have their total primary education in MT who had turned to technical pursuit have proved more resourceful than their counterparts from other schools when they met on the technical plane. The SYPP children have demonstrated greater manipulative ability, manual dexterity and mechanical comprehension. In their relationship to their colleagues the project children have demonstrated a great sense of maturity, tolerance and other affective qualities that make them integrate easily and readily with those they come in contact with" (Fafunwa et al. 1989: 141).

(iv) How do people identify the language(s) of the immediate community in pluralistic settings like urban centres or international communities like universities?

(v) Aren't the pronouncements on the three major languages vague and effeminate? Do phrases (underlined by us) such as "government considers it to be of interest to national unity that each child should be encouraged to learn" not suggest that the choice of language is optional and left to the child to choose or not to choose? Common sense dictates that if learning a major national language is a national responsibility then its learning cannot be optional. It has to be compulsory.

(vi) Further on the choice of languages, by whom and at what level is this choice of one of the three languages to be made? By the Federal, State or Local Government? By the parents, the School or the pupils?

(vii) If the government is serious about implementing the policy, shouldn't there be a definite chronogram for all states to follow in the implementation of the programme? Why is the implementation of the language provisions couched in cautions `escape' phraseology: `subject to the availability of teachers'.

(viii) If the government considers the learning of the three languages crucial for national integration, where are the legal and other sanctions for defaulting Federal, State and Local Governments or their agencies?

(ix) Practically, all Nigerian languages can be used as mother-tongue or language(s) of immediate communities. Is it pedagogically feasible to organise initial literacy in 400 odd languages?

(x) How do just three or the major languages serve the need of the educational process and become the media for preserving the people's cultures - 400 autonomous peoples' cultures?

(xi) Are three years of JSS L2 in the major Nigerian Languages enough for the cultural immersion and political unity envisaged?

(xii) What is the relationship between mother tongue and English? Why should there be a change-over only after three years? Won't the transition create a "psychological gap detrimental to all the cognitive maturation and intellectual development of the child" (Chumbow: 1986).

(xiii) Why is the policy silent on pidgin - one of the country's major languages?

(xiv) What are the languages skills expected from pupils studying each of the major languages involved in the multiglossic Nigerian situation?

(xv) How do we accommodate all the 400 odd languages in a scheme?

(xvi) Can government find=N= 389.00m to recruit trained teachers already available, for the three major Nigerian languages?

(xvii) The total number of teachers required in 1988 for the three major Nigerian languages was 55,237. Only 6,383 or 11.6% of these were available.

How and where are the remaining 48,854 teachers to be produced? Is the recruitment or training of these teachers to be chance or to a coordinated programme involving all agencies concerned?

If we look critically at the goals for teaching/learning languages as spelt out in Paragraph 8 p.9 of the NPE (1981) we will find, following, occasionally quoting, and occasionally paragraphing, Afolayan (1990:5-6) that there are three primary functions for language in Nigerian education.

(i) Making Nigerians capable of acquiring knowledge, skills and attitudes that will make Nigeria a highly developed nation ("the importance of language in the educational process").

(ii) Making Nigerians capable of preserving and positively utilising their cultures ("a means of preserving people's culture").

(iii) Making Nigeria become a virile and united nation ("in the interest of national unity").

Yet in terms of actual school four specific roles are mapped out for language in Nigerian education thus:

(a) Educational process: school subject

(b) Educational process: a medium of instruction

(c) Preservation of culture: a means of additive communication as a first target.

(d) Promotion of unity: a means of integrative communication as a second target.

Of the four goals above, the second, i.e. (b) is irrelevant to the teaching of Nigerian languages at the JSS level. For, a closer look at all the provisions of the NPE reveals that the use of any Nigerian language as a medium of instruction is limited to the primary and pre-primary levels (paragraph 11:3) p.10; and paragraph 15 (4), p.13). Again of the three relevant for the teaching of Nigerian languages at the JSS level, the designers of the NPE had at the back of their minds the preservation of culture and promotion of Nigerian unity as crucial to the JSS. Hence, the emphasis. Otherwise all the languages English, French, Arabic, taught as school subject at the JSS have intellectual relevance.


The centrality of language to the teaching-learning process, the importance of Nigerian languages to the protection, preservation and promotion of Nigeria cultures and the enhancement of human dignity, and the necessity of learning a major language for purposes of promoting national unity and integration have constitutional backing in the 1989 Constitution of the Republic of Nigeria, educational justification in the NPE and empirical justification in the SYPP. Decree 16 of 1985 on Education (National Minimum Standards and Establishments of Institutions) has given legal backing and power of enforcement to the teaching of languages. The NCE in Benin (1986) identified the problems on the way of the implementation of the language provisions of the NPE. It was at the NCE that the Technical Committee on the production of Teachers for the major Nigerian languages was set up. The two-volume Report of this Committee was ready in 1988. The 54th JCC Plenary session at Owerri (1990), the 38th NCE in Calabar (1990), the 39th NCE in Ilorin (March 1991), the JCC References Committee at Jos (May 1991), and Uyo (June 1991) have between them made definitive decisions on and definite implementation strategies for the languages' aspect of the NPE. The findings and recommendations of the Committee of Provosts of College of Education based on the Report of the Federal Ministry of Education-sponsored National Workshop at the Federal College of Education, Abeokuta February 11 - 13, 1991 as well as the inputs from Nigerian linguists, languages educators and the Linguistic Association of Nigeria have between them:

(i) Worked out viable and sustainable modalities for the implementation of the languages' aspect of the NPE;

(ii) Seen the NPE as a "Chapter for modernising Nigerian education through that, the Nigerian society", through "providing opportunities for students to develop both the skills and value systems needed for socialization; towards the realization of truly democratic reforms, self-reliance, cultural nationalism and national unity". "The inculcation of the right type of values and attitudes for the survival of individual and Nigerian society" (and) "The training of the mind in the understanding of the world around" are best done and realized in the languages in which the students are most familiar (i.e. MT, L1 or LIC). Hence, Government saw it fit to prescribe that: "The medium of instruction of the primary school is initially the mother tongue (MT) or the language of the immediate community (LIC) and at a later stage, English". (Aminu: 1986).

(iii) By stipulating the study of MT or LIC a Major Nigerian Language, or (MNL) as L2 in the JSS and MNL in the SSS, the NPE "ensures that we inculcate the right social values such as appreciation of one another's cultures and greater sensitization to the importance of national unity" (Aminu: 1986). Put simply, the language provisions in the NPE are firmly predicated on the four principles of national unity, equality of opportunities, permanence of literacy and numeracy and linguistic competence required for communication and higher education. Communication, competent verbal communication is imperative for teaching and learning in normal education. Hence the emphasis placed on it in education generally, and in the NPE in particular.


It looks like in practical terms, the immediate focus of policy is with the major/ national languages. These are languages specifically mentioned as possible media of instruction throughout the educational system and as possible vehicles for use in all arms of the state apparatus including bureaucracy and parliament. This explains why between them (Federal) Government agencies such as the former NERC (now NERDC), NTI and the NLC, WAEC; have developed the following resources which are crucial to the meaningful use of three languages in the educational and official settings.

L1 Primary School Curricula (NERC, 1982-3)

L2 and L1 JSS Curricula (NERC, 1982-4)

L1 SSS Curricula (NERC, 1984-5)

L1 Teachers Grade II Curricula (NERC, 1975-6)

L1 TTC Curricula (NTI 1986)

Primary Science Terminology (NLC, 1980-3)

Legislative Terminology (NLC, 1980-88)

Metalanguage for the three major Nigerian language (NERC, 1981)

Braille Orthography (NERC, 1981-4)

Orthography Manuals and Pan-Nigerian

typographic resources (NLC, on-going)

L1 Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba SSC Exam Syllabus (WAEC, 1985-6; 1991)

All these resources collectively provide the wherewithal for effectively teaching, discussing, writing, examining, typing, typewriting and printing the major Nigerian languages among others.

The cumulative effects of all these should show in the following

(i) a qualitative and quantitative increase in the number of L1 and L2 teachers for Nigerian languages and ESL;

(ii) a qualitative and quantitative increase in texts of all descriptions available in Nigerian languages. Science and maths books are now available for primary education in the major languages as well as in minority languages such as Gbagyi, Kambari, Kamuku, Nupe (all in Niger State), Edo-Bini, Kanuri;

(iii) General awareness about the role of indigenous languages in initial literacy, mass literacy/mobilization and adult literacy;

(iv) priority position given to the recruitment of language inspectors of education;

(v) recognition of the need to have specialist language teachers and educators;

(vi) increase in course offerings in languages in tertiary institutions;

(vii) more air-time in the electronic media for languages;

(viii) more print-space in the print media for languages;

(ix) more proficient numeracy and literacy in languages used in the country.

In educational matters as in other areas, Nigeria is one nation that is very high and rich in policies but very low and deficient in implementation. In this regard, the findings about the situation in Imo State are relevant to the whole nation. In 1985, the Imo State Government set up a "Panel on the Teaching of Igbo the Imo State School System and the Implementation of the National Language Policy". With regard to the policy on Igbo in particular and languages in general the panel observed, among other things, that though there are appreciable changes since 1986:

(a) There is still some lack of awareness on the part of highly placed ministry officials: Supervisors/Inspectors of Education, Principals/Headmasters of Schools and practising teachers of the language policy as stated in the NPE. This lack of awareness, on its part, is responsible for the:

(i) relatively inferior status accorded Nigerian languages in the school system in particular and the society in general. Igbo is not being taught or tolerated in most nursery schools in the state, Igbo is not being seriously and consistently used as the medium of instruction in the `junior' primary classes nor is it being seriously taught as a `core' subject in the upper primary classes. In the secondary school, Igbo has fewer periods a week on the time table than any other subject in the curriculum. The NPE stipulates that as a `core' subject in both the Junior Secondary School (JSS), and the Senior Secondary School (SSS), Igbo should have the same number of periods per week as any other core subject. Even in Teacher Training Colleges (TTC) up to 1984 Igbo continued to lag behind other subjects in being accorded the status of an `optional' state subject;

(ii) the non-sponsorship of practising teachers to relevant courses, conference and seminars on languages;

(iii) the lack of incentives by way of in-service courses with attendant incremental benefits for serving teachers, and bursaries and scholarships for would-be teachers.

(b) Inadequacy of trained teachers: In spite of the inimitable efforts of the Colleges of Education at Owerri, Awka, Nsugbe, Ehamufu, Okene and Abeokuta to produce NCE teachers of Igbo for the school system, statistics from the Imo State Ministry of Education reveal that during the 3rd term of the 1984\85 session:

There was a total of 259 qualified and 373 unqualified teachers of Igbo in the entire post-primary sector of the system with a population of 343.593. This means a ratio of one teacher to 385 students. On a zone-by-zone basis, the Owerri zone fared best with 34 qualified and 36 non-qualified teachers for a post primary population of 5,676 distributed over 12 schools. The Afikpo situation reveals a ratio of 1:567. The case of French In school system Is more pitiable.

(c) Under-utilization of Trained Teachers: Teachers with tertiary qualifications in Languages and linguistics are not being deployed to teach languages especially if they hold qualifications-in languages and any of the other more `popular' school subjects including Bible Knowledge!

(d) Inadequacy of facilities for producing qualified manpower all through our national educational system: There are no adequate facilities for producing qualified language teachers. TTCs, which should produce the teachers are very few or non-existent. For example, in the former Imo State, the former. Imo State University, Okigwe and the Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri,which should produce most of the language teachers for the post-primary schools,materials and manpower resources are deficient in both quality and quantity. At the Federal College of Education, Abeokuta~ only two or so Lecturers are involved in producing NCE language teachers for Igbo as L1 and L2.

(e) The comprehensiveness of the available curricula: The extremely good NERC and-NLC syllabuses and curricula for languages in the Teacher Training Colleges, Primary School, Junior and Senior Secondary Schools make exacting demands on the teachers beyond what they can now understand or accommodate.

(f) Many support materials now available for teaching languages, primary sciences, and social studies are beyond most practising teachers. They need refresher courses to update themselves on these.

(g) A lot of the innovative books produced in the approved metalanguage for teaching Nigerian Languages in the primary and secondary schools require to be introduced to the teachers through government - or publisher sponsored workshops. When sometimes non-governmental agencies are prepared to sponsor such workshops or seminars, Education Ministries are more than unnecessarily cautious and occasionally antagonistic to such agencies.

(h) Bad choice of language textbooks by the Recommending Agencies: The NPE calls for new and revolutionary books of all types in languages as in other school subjects. And some of the more forward-looking publishing houses such as Longman, Africana-Fep and University Press Limited among others, are bringing out very creative books for the primary and secondary schools. Yet, the list of language books recommended by the Education Ministries often reveal a number of disturbing things. The pattern of textbooks "selection now and in the past seems to suggest that books are selected on the basis of authorship and publisher rather than on the quality of their content and\ overall production. Besides, there does not appear to be any rhyme or reason for the recommendation of books of various classes in the school system".


There is a dearth of trained language teachers all through the system. The small and developing languages have no trained teachers. In the major languages, Hausa, (Salim, 1973), Ozigi and Ocho (1981); Yoruba (Awoniyi, 1978); Igbo (Nwadike, 1981); in French Ndoleriire, 1981) and in English the practising teachers are poorly motivated, ill-trained, overworked, unevenly distributed, and abysmally insufficient in numbers.

With particular reference to English,the truth is that it remains one of the worst taught subjects in the school system. Most teachers of English, including those with `paper' qualifications are unqualified to teach the English language sometimes `redundant' teachers are drafted to teach it. And just anybody with a degree or diploma is potential English teacher. After all such a graduate was taught in English!

With regard to French, the observation backed up by revealing statistics made by Ndoleriire (1973) about French in Nigeria close to one decade now are even more relevant today. Although the "situation differs from state to state what is going on in Imo State will give us some idea as to what is happening in the rest of the country. The teaching of this language (French) is inadequate, at least at the secondary school level. The reason(s) for this are lack of teachers, lack of teaching equipment and lack of incentives. The problem of the lack of teachers is compounded (further by the fact that) some principals of secondary schools do not encourage the teaching of French in their schools. It is, therefore, not uncommon to find a French graduate teaching an entirely different subject such as Geography. Religion, English or Igbo not of choice but out of compulsion since French is not taught in such a school ... As regards the lack of incentives in schools, several factors are discernible ...

"Lack of committed teachers available all the year round, the economic value of French in the society and the rise in the fortunes of Nigeria languages as required by the NPE". Ubahakwe (1982) used statistical evidence for Igbo against French in Imo and Anambra States". In absolute number there has been an increase of nearly 3,000 students of Igbo as L1 in the former Anambra and Imo States in the WASC\GCE EXAMINATIONS. This represents a 51% increase unlike French which dropped by about the same number. That represents a decline of 93%. The percentage is likely to be much higher for Igbo in increase, and lower for French in decrease today. On account of the crucial role of teachers in the implementation of NPE, I shall take liberty to dwell more on the issue of language teachers. The teacher is clearly the fulcrum around which the whole of the teaching learning process revolves. A competent, qualified, dedicated, resourceful well-motivated, and well paid teacher is the greatest asset in realizing the set objectives of any educational policy. Such a-teacher can creatively interpret the curricula or syllabuses, use any texts or even prepare his own.


Two principal cadres of teachers are required for the effective implementation of the policy: the higher level teachers and the middle level teachers. And two types of teachers are desirable for the Nigerian Languages: L1 and L2 teachers.


This grade of teachers would, as in other subjects areas, be trained in the universities. These will be the teachers who have advanced degrees in languages. To handle the envisaged explosion in numbers. Departments of Linguistics, English and African languages, would need to admit more graduate students to do analytical studies on the various Nigerian languages, and their literatures, and English. Armed with higher degrees in these disciplines, these better informed persons can then help universities and, especially, Colleges of Education to-train others.


The task of producing most of the language teachers would be that of the Colleges of Education. Because of the philosophy underlying their establishment, their statutory roles, their geographical spread and their modes of operation,Colleges of Education are more properly fitted to produce NCEs, ACEs and B.Eds in good quantities - Colleges of Education with Departments of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba should have such departments re-structured and re-named Departments of Nigerian Languages and Cultures as the ASCE at Awka did in 1985, and the AICE at Owerri did in 1988. The Colleges of Education at Katsina-Ala and Warri started off so from their inception. Such departments in Federal and State-Owned Colleges of Education can, using the "Harmonized Syllabuses" go about producing L1 and L2 teachers in the 'viable' languages in their catchment areas. In such department, it should now be impossible to turn out NCE teachers with combined major programme involving;

(a) One major Nigerian language as both L1 and L2;

(b) One major Nigerian language as L1 and another Nigerian language as L2;

(c) Two different Nigerian languages as L1 and L2 respectively;

(d) English, French and a Nigerian language as L1 or L2.

Our proposals should not be seen as wishful thinking or just simply theoretical since, I believe that, if people with no previous knowledge of French can go to a College of Education and within three years, through a double-major programme, qualify to teach it in the secondary school, there should be no problem with people who are well disposed and are willing to make a career of their choice, to learn two different Nigerian languages (other than their own) and be able to teach these as L2. This experiment is now being partially practicalized at the Federal Colleges of Education, Abeokuta and Azare.


We shall now give a number of suggestions and recommendations for a meaningful execution of the languages aspect of the NPE. These recommendations are addressed to different interest groups and agencies which have, or should have, share or stake in the national assignment of producing teachers of (Nigerian) languages for the entire school system. We do not claim any originality for a good number of these as they have been drawn sometimes verbatim from documents especially those listed in the Appendix.


(1) In spite of politics and politicians and very strong interest groups, multilingualism should continue as the (national) policy on languages.

(2) The NERDC, especially through its LDC, whose predecessor has been doing marvellous work in selected areas of the languages issue should be further encouraged with funds and the other wherewithal to continue. It should also be given more enabling power to become the think-talk and research and co-ordinating centre for language education in Nigeria.

(3) The NERDC should be seen to be taking its assignments in the languages' areas more seriously. It should be directed and funded to develop more orthographies, curricula, metalanguage and relevant textual materials especially in the non-major Nigerian languages. It should be ordered to get the JCC Approved NL2 syllabuses revised urgently in such a way as to emphasize communicative instead of linguistic competence.

(4) Although the NTI does not enjoy the same autonomy of action as the NERDC, following the fact that it is a teacher's outfit and its involvement in the NCE (primary) through Distance Learning System, it could be given special directives to perform certain tasks which could expedite the production of language teachers and relevant textual materials.

(5) Since for Pan-Africanist reasons as a signatory to the ECOWAS treaty, "The Lagos Plan of Action for Africa" and "The Language Plan of Action for Africa", it is the Federal Government that is keen on French and Arabic as L3 it should set up special language schools where those who are interested in these languages can go to. These schools should be full formal institutions fully equipped for the purposes of teaching French or Arabic. For if any of them is left to compete with other subjects in the Junior Secondary School, its chances of survival are very slim indeed. H.G. Evans (1972) in his controversial paper: "Does everybody need French?" said: "French is necessary in English-speaking W. Africa but not for everybody. The subject belongs to the upper regions of secondary school life and to the Universities". The same holds for Arabic to some extent. Arabic is necessary in the Moslem areas but not for everybody. The Language Villages for French and Arabic have now taken off as planned.

(6) A network of Federal and State Inspectors of Education competent in linguistics and languages should be posted to the States and local governments to monitor the teaching and use of languages. The situation as of now is far from being encouraging or satisfactory.

(7) By way of incentives the Federal Government should subvert courses in (Nigerian) languages in institutions of higher learning. It should also recruit teachers of the MNLs and second them to States' teaching services as it did during the UPE era.

(8) Federal Radio and Television should be mobilized to effectively teach and popularize languages in the media.

(9) The National Institute for Nigerian Languages, Aba. Now that the Federal Government has set up the National Institute we do hope that the following among other problems confronting the teaching of NLs will be addressed:

(i) the high cost of the acculturation programme as now practised by Colleges of Education;

(ii) the ad-hoc nature of arrangements between co-operating institutions;

(iii) the need of the NL2 learners to learn the languages in real life situations;

(iv) producing graduate teachers in the right quantity and quality for ALL Nigerian languages;

(v) up-dating practising teachers of Nigerian languages in content, methods and language technology.


(1) There must be committed state involvement and responsibility in implementing the policy. In this regard the National Council on Education should direct ALL states, especially the multilingual ones to identify the distinct languages in their areas and evolve their own language policies for them within the framework of the NPE. Having identified the distinct languages in the states (as Akwa-Ibom, former Bendel, Benue, Niger, Rivers) have done, states should then establish the modalities for:

(i) training teachers in these languages;

(ii) developing the languages from oracy to literacy;

(iii) designing orthographies and other textual materials necessary for the effective teaching and learning of these languages as school subjects;

(iv) evolving evaluation examination materials for their use in the primary, JSS and later SSS;

(v) generating and sustaining interest in these languages in the primary schools and JSS.

(2) The States should co-operate fully with the Federal Government in sponsoring knowledgeable persons to meetings where matters concerning languages are discussed.

(3) A Language Unit should be established in every Ministry of Education to handle all matters dealing with languages. This unit should be manned by specialists in language, linguistics or language education. Language and linguistics are highly specialized fields and not just anybody is competent to be in these areas.

(4) The States should make the more `developed' Nigerian languages in their areas compulsory for certification at TTCs. Since Nigerian languages are now State papers; states should see to it that these languages are media of instruction in the Lower Primary, compulsorily taught in the Upper Primary, compulsorily examined in the FSLC and compulsorily taught and examined for promotion in the Junior Secondary School.

(5) The States should develop orthographies and literacy materials in all languages in their areas along the line of the Rivers State Readers Project or the Isekiri and Okpe language Projects.

(6) The States should also set up special post-primary language schools to complement the efforts of the Federal Government for French and Arabic.

(7) State Radios and Television should, as a matter of policy feature the languages of their locality.

(8) State Newspapers should have, for a start, monthly publications as a matter of policy, in the major languages of the State. The point needs to be emphasized that with goodwill and understanding, State Ministries of Education, Information and Culture working in full co-operation and consultation with Colleges of Education in their states, whether Federal or State, and using the reservoir of expertise available in the universities, NERDC, SISTER COES, NCCE, WAEC, CEM can achieve very much with very little and within a very short time.


(1) Linguists and language educators in Nigeria should be more forth-coming, by striking a patriotic, nationalistic mean of linguistic relevance between esoteric and exoteric research. Bamgbose (1982:4) made this point forcefully thus: "More than ever before,there is need for greater dialogue between policy - makers and scholars of language. Perhaps(linguists) should no longer fold (their) hands waiting for the letter of invitation from the Ministry of Education. It may never come. Linguists should bombard the Ministry with proposals and memoranda, and organise symposia to which policy makers should be invited; for no matter how valuable (their) research and ideas, they will remain library and classrooms materials unless they find their way into policy formulation and implementation.

(2) Linguists in theoretical, applied linguistics, socio-linguistics and in languages should produce texts that are not only relevant but are also couched in easily digestible forms.

(3) Linguists should be less standoffish and close ranks with their respective language associations and give their expertise, gratis, if necessary.

(4) Linguists and language educators should have more opportunities for the exchange of notes and ideas, through seminars, conferences, workshops, etc.


(1) Where these do not exist, they should be formed. For they can, with or without government backing or even recognition, do enormous good for their languages.

(2) Where they are dormant they should be reactivated.

(3) Where they exist, they should be aggressive when the occasion calls for it, they should embarrass government and ministry officials and act as watch-dogs and partners in progress with government and government agencies in the overall interests of their languages and their groups.

(4) They should fortify their ranks with indigenous linguists and tap their expertise to the maximum.

(5) Leaders, officers and interest groups in these associations should always act in the best interest of the ethnic group and of the nation.

(6) They should adopt more academic postures in place of the frequently maudlin or mawkish cliches in their propaganda tactics.


Following the directive already given by the National Council on Education, "Universities, Colleges of Education, Polytechnics etc running programmes in Nigerian languages should present reasoned arguments accompanied by cost implications to the government for mounting higher/advanced diplomas, under-graduate and graduate programmes in NLs and L1 and L2, as relevant".


Formal education in Nigerian language, Aku (Yoruba) began way back in 1831. Yet, up to now not much progress appears to have been made in education in Nigerian languages, irrespective of the 1926 Education Edict of the Colonial Government, and the many noble sentiments of indigenous Federal and State Governments and valiant activities of the Linguistic Association of Nigeria. Okon (1982) and Bamgbose (1982) have correctly identified the many barriers, which militate against effective education in West African languages in general and Nigerian languages in particular.

One of the concrete examples of the "barriers" is the assumption held on to with fanatical tenacity that literacy is the ability to speak and\or write English. This fallacy is strongest among the Southern Nigerian elite. If after over 200 years of English in Nigeria less than 20% of Nigerians are able to speak and\or write some forms of English, we will begin to see our folly! Among other things, the Ife SYPP has proved the UNESCO axiom that people learn faster and better in their L1. If therefore we want education for values and literacy that is functional, all Nigerians have to be re-educated on the place of language in the teaching\learning process. This psychological war has to be waged simultaneously at many fronts in the spirit of the NPE and The 1989 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the Government Views and Comments on the Findings and Recommendation of the Political Bureau (.62) and The Cultural Policy for Nigeria.

One concrete way of handling the question of these barriers is through a comprehensive package of incentives for language teachers. This should include:

(i) Permanent and pensionable employment, with accommodation guaranteed, to non-indigenous teachers of languages;

(ii) Federal, State and Local Governments should give automatic scholarships to students of languages;

(iii) In-service training for serving teachers of languages in tertiary institutions up to the post - graduate level;

(iv) Tertiary institutions especially COEs to train language teachers through staff development programmes;

(v) Inter-and intra, exchange of teachers of NLs between states and between institutions.



With the benefit of hindsight, we observe that the greatest things that ever happened to the teaching of languages in Nigeria at the pre-tertiary level are the NERc curricula for the respective languages. The JSS and SSS curricula as well as the primary school curricula are almost `schemes of work': With their detailed Units, Topics, Objectives, Contents, possible Items Learning Activities, Suggested Methods, Suggested Materials and Evaluation, they are challenging pleasures for innovative textbooks writers and even for the most uninspiring and mediocre of teachers. The comprehensive lists of books appendixed to these curricula are ready tools for effective teaching. Even the defunct TTC (UPE) Nigerian languages' curricula and the textbooks they fathered remain classics for teachers and their accompanying books on methodology, veritable mines of information and authoritative handbooks for practising teachers and teachers- in- training even at the tertiary level.

Yet in spite of the curricula and many well-written textbooks now available in the languages, language teaching in the schools is still very poor. Intimidated by the class in state schools, confused or unsure about tyranny of numbers of the average in modern texts and discourse in the (Nigerian) the metalanguage in current use languages, diffident about catching up with the great strides that are being made in language studies, uninspired by Government attitude to the teaching of languages, a good number of teachers of languages chose to remain within the Straight-jack, recycling the same old information gleaned from outmoded poorly researched and generally poorly produced texts to the utter neglected literature in and the grammar of the language. The effect of this is that people go through post-primary schools with very little language and no literature. Most people really begin to meaningfully speak, read, write language and appreciate literature in the various languages in the tertiary institutions. The trend must be reversed if the teaching of language is to occupy its "core" position in the 6-3-3-4 set-up.

Teachers, government officials, publishers, writers among all those engaged in the enterprise of teaching, evaluation, and propagating languages must never fail to realize the centrality of their subject to their mission. And plan accordingly for language education and language in education.


It is against the foregoing problems and with an eye Federal Government funded the "Seminar on the implementation of the Language provisions of the National Policy on Education. The Seminar which was organised by the Language Development Centre of the NERDC held at the Gateway International Hotel, Ota, from October 6-10, 1991. The specific objective of the Seminar was "Comprehensive review of the implementation procedures for realizing the objectives of the language provisions of the NPE". The Federal Minister of Education and Youth Development was there. So was the Chairman Implementation Committee of the NPE. And so were seventeen specialists in the different but complementary areas of Nigerian linguistics, language education, educational planning and curriculum development. The Ota Seminar dealt specifically with, among others;

(i) General problems of implementation of the language provisions of the NPE;

(ii) Programmes for the training of teachers for Nigerian languages as L1 and L2, English and Foreign Languages;

(iii) Curricula and Syllabuses for Nigerian Languages as L1 and L2;

(iv) Teaching of major Nigerian languages;

(v) The teaching of non-major (minority) Nigerian Languages;

(vi) Review of curricular, syllabuses and pedagogy of English and Foreign languages in the educational system;

(vii) Research requirements for the implementation of the language provision of the NPE.

The Ota Seminar came out with sixteen recommendations on language policy and curricula objectives; sixteen recommendations on the training of language teachers, six recommendations on language research, three recommendations on evaluation and three general recommendations. Below is presented verbatim a summary of the recommendation of the seminar. They are ten in number but only nine are relevant for our presentation.

(i) "Government should continue with its policy of multilingualism".

(ii) Government should review and restate in a clearer form the language provisions of the NPE".

(iii) "Government should provide active encouragement to the implementation of the MT/LIC medium of instruction policy at the primary school level".

(iv) "Government should give active encouragement to the training employment of all categories of teachers of (Nigerian) languages.

(v) "Appropriate curricula agencies should review and\or design more functional curricula for (Nigeria) languages.

(vi) "Government should fund research into all aspects of language and language teaching in Nigeria and support such activities through grants to Departments of Linguistics and Nigerian/African Languages in tertiary institutions".

(vii) "Government should provide adequate funding for the survey of Nigerian languages project with a view to ensuring its immediate implementation, language planning, language development and language use purposes".

(viii) "Government should involve linguists and language specialists in all policy matters involving language in this country".

(ix) "The language provisions of the NPE and their implementation should be constantly monitored and evaluated".

Educational policies, like all issues in education, are dynamic and continuously changing and responding to new realities in the light of new information and expanding visits and horizons. If the recommendations of the Ota Seminar are incorporated in a revision of the current NPE in matters of language, Nigeria would get into the 21st century strong, virile, creative multilingual state which accords all the languages in the polity their respective but complementary statuses, functions and contexts. At that time it would be fully appreciated that education is not about languages, teaching language or teaching in languages. It is about responsible and responsive citizenship. It is about the acquisition of skills. All these can be taught and learnt in any language but best in the language in which the teachers and their students are more at home. And that is their mother tongue. These were the revelations of the Ife Six Year Yoruba Project as recorded by Fafunwa et al. (eds) 1989:141, thus:

(i) "(primary) education in mother tongue lead to more permanent literacy numeracy";

(ii) "it leads to faster and more rounded development of the affective, cognitive and manipulative skills of the human person". "Those who turned to technical pursuit have proved more resourceful than others without their exposure, they demonstrated greater manipulative ability, manual dexterity and mechanical comprehension, greater sense of maturity, tolerance ..."

(iii) (primary) education in mother tongue (or any language in which people are competent) "has greater surrender value and makes the child a better and adjusted citizen in the community".

If we look closely at the general and specific objectives of primary education as spelt out in the revised NPE (1981:14), it does appear that the Ife SYPP approach will help us realize these objectives faster and better. Let us add quickly that there are sceptics who hold that the findings of the SYPP should be accepted with some caution partly because they need to be replicated elsewhere in Nigeria. But this posture raises a number of questions. Are the Ife findings any different from those made in other parts of the world where similar experiments have been carried out: in the Philippines (Sibayan, 1968; 1978) in Niger Republic (Badejo, 1989)? Or are the findings different from those in other parts of the world where the whole of formal and informal education, from the cradle to the grave, is given in the mother tongue: England, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, China? There is the tendency for Nigerians (and others) living in multilingual multi-national post-colonial polities with imposed, convenient exoglossic official languages, to forget that English is the mother tongue of England, French of France, German of Germany, Japanese of Japan, Korean of Korea, Chinese of China and that in these countries the whole of education is conducted in their respective mother tongues!

In the 21st Century more non-major Nigeria languages would be developed and taught in tertiary institutions. English and the Foreign languages would be taught by better trained teachers and perhaps undesigned specialist language schools. The prejudice against Nigerian languages would the minimized. Participatory democracy would be promoted by the use of MT and/or LIC (Ikare, 1982).

We have argued elsewhere (Emenanjo, 1991) that the crisis in present day Nigerian education is that of verbal communication, and that if the standards of education have fallen or are falling, the lack of effective manipulation of verbal communication in the popular, non-elitist public schools is at the core of it all. If the present crisis in Nigerian education is to be stemmed and standards prevented from (further) falling then effective communication has to be seen for its vast potentials not only in Nigerian education but also in the overall polity.


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