Primary education begins at the age of 4 for the majority of Nigerians . Students spend six years in primary school and graduate with a school-leaving certificate. Subjects taught at the primary level include mathematics, English language, Christian Religious Knowledge, Islamic knowledge studies, science and one of the three main indigenous languages and cultures, Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo. Private schools would also offer Computer science, French, and Fine Arts. Primary school students are required to take a Common Entrance Examination to qualify for admission into the Federal and State Government Secondary schools, as well as private ones.
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The Senior Secondary School Exam is taken in the last year of secondary school (SS3). Private organizations, the State government or the Federal government manage secondary schools in Nigeria.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is made up of thirty-six States and the Federal Capital Territory. There are about two Federal Government Colleges in each state. These schools are funded and managed directly by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Education. Teachers and staff are Federal Government employees. Teachers at the Federal Government schools possess a Bachelors degree in Education or in a particular subject area, such as, Mathematics, Physics etc. These schools are supposed to be model schools carrying and maintaining the ideals of secondary education for Nigerian students. Admission is based on merit, determined by the National Common Entrance Examination taken by all final year elementary school pupils. Tuition and fees are very low, approximately sixteen thousand naira ($100), because funding comes from the Federal Government.
State-owned secondary schools are funded by each state government and are not comparable to the Federal government colleges. Although education is supposed to be free in the majority of the state owned institutions, students are required to purchase books, uniforms and pay for miscellaneous things costing them an average of thirty thousand naira ($200) in an academic year. Teachers in State-owned institutions usually have a National Certificate of Education or a Bachelors Degree, but this is not always the case as many secondary schools in Nigeria are filled with unqualified teachers who end up not being able to motivate the students. Often these schools are understaffed due to low state budgets, lack of incentives and irregularities in payment of staff salaries.
Private secondary schools in Nigeria tend to be quite expensive with average annual fees averaging from one hundred and sixty to three hundred and twenty thousand naira($1000.00 - $2000.00). These schools have smaller classes (approximately twenty to thirty students per class), modern equipment and a better environment. Most teachers in these institutions possess at least a Bachelors Degree in a specific course area and are sent for workshops or short term programs on a regular basis.
With the introduction of 9-3-4 system of education in Nigeria,the recipient of the education would spend six years in primary school,three years in junior secondary school,three years in senior secondary school, and four years in tertiary institution.The six years spent in primary school and the three years spent in junior secondary school are merged to form the nine in the 9-3-4 system. Altogether,the students must spend a minimum period of six years in Secondary School. During this period, students are expected to spend three years in Junior Secondary School and three years in Senior Secondary School.