Why Primary Education in Nigeria Should Be Privatised

by - October 15, 2016

With these reasons primary education should be privatised

I think it is high time we took the bull by the horn and settle this menace bedevilling primary education in Nigeria. You may call the title of this post anything - ridiculous, preposterous, absurd; use any horrible adjective to describe this title – you are right. Even the writer is still struggling to come to terms with the title of this post but surely this long-held lamentation must echo and resound.

That is why I don’t just want to write to entertain anybody, I simply want to reverberate an existing campaign for the educational emancipation of this country. The educational system of Nigeria has always seen a drastic decline in both infrastructural-wise and human productivity. The so-called government which claims to own and run our primary education schools must have really been fed up with the running and maintenance of the basic education system in Nigeria. When the government begins to lose interest in the basic thing that holds the nation, then I fear what the future holds for us. When our tomorrows’ leaders are not groomed and refined in the furnace of intellectual and, moral and all integral human formation, which only education can give, I fear if this tomorrow will have any leader to saddle on it and steer the affairs of the country. Permit me to say, that I am disappointed in the government of this nation. And without mincing words, I will say, let them privatise the primary education sector in Nigeria. Privatisation, no matter how negative it may sound, is the only solution to the galling state of our basic educational system.  

I can remember that during my primary school days, I was meant to know (and so do most of us), that the despicable state of our nation’s educational system was caused by sheer negligence of our then military rulers; who feared to invest on education owing to the reason that scholars and educators opposed their military rule. Okay, let us assume that to be the case. But, can you just calculate the years from 1999 when we embraced Civilian rule, to the present year, how many years do you think have gone by? Oh my goodness! Even if we are being led by snails and tortoise, I’m pretty sure we must have reached a considerable destination on our journey to reconstructing the fallen standard of our nation’s educational system. It is very painful and so unfortunate that may not do much but to vent my anger on this blank paper with my ink.

Every 1st of October, we rejoice and celebrate our independence. The question now is, ‘have we actually been liberated – intellectually, economically, security-wise and even politically? At 50+ Nigeria is still wearing diapers and crawling. I am beginning to believe the notion that our independence has been submerged in the Ocean of greed and corruption.

Come to think of it, most of our political leaders are sitting on the fence whenever the issue of Nigeria education is brought to case. Why is this so? Of course, the answer is obvious, the majority, if not all them, have their children and wards outside the borders of the country, mostly beyond the Atlantic – let them study there and gain a better life. Sadly, even the leaders have little or no trust in the growth of our dear Nation, what then could be the attitude of the led?

In order to put my quest in perspective, I will like to make a brief conceptual clarification. I think at this juncture, we should first understand the primary term we have been using – ‘primary education. Basically, this is the very first stage of education. It is structured in a way that it aims at creating, establishing and offering opportunities to all children regardless of age, gender or country or origin, in order to achieve an equilibrium in the cognitive, emotional and psychomotor development of the child.

In the Nigerian setting, we don’t just see primary education as the period when the mother had to send her child/ward away and save herself from his/her troubles. Primary education is meant to help the parents in bringing up their children, endowing them with basic knowledge they need and to acquaint them with the specific Nigerian civilisation and tradition. Again, it is through this particular stage that children develop respect and love for their national heritage, become aware of their national identity as Nigerians and minute historical facts of the country.

Why Private Sectors should own all Basic Schools

After considering the nonchalance and mismanagements in the educational sector of our nation, looking at the case of our elementary schools in the nation, I have come to the conclusion that all public primary schools should be transferred to the private sector. The government should give the private sector an opportunity of a trial, and let us sit and watch how far they can go.

It is high time we turned our gaze to the private sectors. I have no doubt that they will do better than the government. Our educational sector needs urgent rescue mission and the only sector that can bring sanity to the fallen state of our nation’s basic education is the private sectors. I cannot imagine why the government should continue to hold on to what they cannot maintain; I think they should step aside but not to abscond. What the federal government should do is to stay in the background and give necessary supports in any way possible.  

         The Government shouldn’t be trusted again with Primary Education 
If you are among those who advocate for the ownership of schools by the public sector, I am pretty sure that by now you must be boiling in fury. But hold on, I use to be like you and to tell you a deep-seated truth, I am a highly patriotic Nigerian. So don’t misjudge me of being one of those who has no interest in the progress of the nation. I wonder why I should be spending this time in writing this if I am to be contra national progress.

Taking a cursory view at the struggle of Nigeria schools to construct a knowledge economy and society, you will agree with me that their efforts are frequently thwarted by consistent problems of finance, efficiency, equity, quality and governance. The most painful part of it is that these problematic challenges have been augmented by new ones which are linked to the fast-growing role of knowledge in economic development, rapid changes in communications technology, and the globalisation of trade and labour markets. Now tell me, how can a nation which is unable to handle the simple intricacies of basic school management face the challenges of this worldwide technologically advancing educational system?   

I hate writing without facts, I believe you should base on mere emotional outburst (like mine) to make your decision. Let us look at the few facts at hand. With this, I believe my venture will gain form.

How Government Failed in Basic Education Management

In the year 1976, Nigeria launched the Universal Primary Education (UPE). Have you ever wondered what happened to this educational program? It was simply used as a conduit to ship the public funds to the corrupt political leaders and their shameless cronies. That’s a simple truth. A program that has great potential failed woefully because of a deficiency of funding, among other factors, which were greatly necessitated by corruption. 
Again, we see another brand in the system, call it rebranding of the UPE or whatever. This time around it is called the Universal Basic Education (UBE). This program was launched in Sokoto and during the launching, the then President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo gave an interesting speech and in between his speech he said that the country “cannot afford to fail this time around.” But later on, we started hearing another tone, a report came from the Federal Government that the educational system is suffering from what they refer to as “acute shortage of qualified teachers” in the nation’s primary school sector. This, according to the report, is the major cause of the fallen standard of education in the nation.

A recent statistic shows that about 23 percent of more than 400,000 teachers employed in primary schools nationwide do not possess the teachers’ Grade Two Certificate. Not even the minimum requirement needed to teach in the nation’s primary schools which is the National Certificate of Education (NCE). Looking at this report, I wonder what awaits this program in future. Since the system is filled with half-baked teachers who can merely qualify as cleaners, what kind of success should we hope to achieve from such a program? The failure is obvious. The problem is that the government has kept a blind eye to any educational issue in the nation and yet refusing to allow those who have the interest to put in their contribution.

 When you create such a program, it should be backed up with proper management, training and employing qualified teachers proportionate to the number of schools and pupils in the nation. Let’s not talk about incentives for teachers, furnished classrooms, well-equipped libraries and teaching materials etc. These things are only seen on the pages of newspapers and executed on the lectern of our political leaders. Yet we want to have a standard education. Let us stop deceiving ourselves and tell ourselves the bitter truth. I have a strong feeling that UBE will still be converted into a funnel where the so-called top officials will place their greedy gallons and drain the nation’s economy. That is if they have not already started doing so. Sorry, I’m being a pessimist, I think experience has caused me to be one.

I was shocked when I came to this eerie revelation. Can you believe that in the year 2001, statistics show that there was about 2,020 public primary schools in Nigeria with practically no school building, not even a basha to call a school? Pupils and teachers were virtually staying under the trees for classes. Yet, when you see the allocation of money the federal Government allocates to the educational sector, it will be obvious that government is practically fed up with education. Why then are they still holding on to it?

Read also: Revealed: FG states to spend paltry 8% of budgets on education, 2016



There is a report from UNICEF on “The Education in Nigeria”, stating that there is an exponential growth in population which has, to an extent, put great pressure on the nation’s resources. The public services and infrastructures have been overstretched and with the continuous growth in population, who knows what will happen come 2020. Let us agree that the nation’s resources have already been overstretched, the next thing we should ask ourselves is, “which way forward?” it is obvious that the Nigeria government has a lot in its hand (if I can say that so simply), I propose that they should seek help from the private sectors; by relinquishing some of the so-called burdened projects to the private sectors.

Take a look at this video from one of the basic schools in Nigeria

When we consider the growing population of the country with children under 15 years accounting for about 45% of the country’s population, permit me to say that as much as we may not want to call it a burden, it has become a great burden on the national resources. And such burden is obviously overwhelming. Most of the projects they often come up with are obviously white elephant projects and I don’t think we can continue trusting the government anymore.  

So I still maintain my stand, and I am making this clarion call to every patriotic citizen and all those who sympathise with this great nation, to join in this campaign and let’s save our tomorrow’s leader from this impending academic calamity.

Let us hear your view, what do you think about the primary education in Nigeria? Please share this post to as many people as you can, let us discuss the affairs that concern our children, our future and our dear Nation, NIGERIA.

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  1. Great write up, I'm in support of this! ��

  2. Yea, I'm also in support. Thanks for writing about this it's really affecting our wards.

  3. Yea, I'm also in support. Thanks for writing about this it's really affecting our wards.