Poor implementation in Education


Students spend six years in Secondary School that is 3 years of JSS (Junior Secondary School), and 3 years of SSS (Senior Secondary School). By Senior Secondary School Class 2 (SS2), students are taking the GCE O’ Levels exam, which is not mandatory, but most students take it to prepare for the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination. 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. Some state-owned secondary schools are regarded as elite colleges because of the historically high educational standard and producing alumni who have prominent citizens in the various careers. These included King’s College, Lagos and Queen’s College, Lagos. However, the colleges ranking of these institutions have since dropped because of the arrival of some private institutions.

Theoretical framework

 Contemporary issues in Nigerian education have become a food for thought for all well meaning individuals both at home and Diaspora. It has several times been argued that Nigeria education system is at the cross-road, and at the verge of being collapsed. The claims of these oral authors and critiques are that, things have been lopsided in this industry. However, the revitalization of the lost hope rests upon the shoulders of men and women of wisdom and knowledge. According to Omolewa (2001:1):

Education is a great importance to every nation. It, therefore, attracts considerable attention. At the family, community, state and federal government levels, education is discussed, planned and processed. It is believed that education makes both the person and the nation; it also influences values and attitudes. The professions are similarly built through the training and preparing people for different careers in life.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) once observed that, since wars begin in the minds of men, it is also in the minds of men that defenses of peace must be constructed. It is evident in studies that education has great potentials for transforming the individual and the society. The approach to the functionality of education in the contemporary form is holistically over viewed from the power point of indigenous or traditional African technology. Africans have their ways of educating the young ones before the advent of the European educationists. Therefore, the transformation we are witnessing now has a long time of historical settings in Africa and Nigeria in particular. Olubadewo (2006) believe that, the faith of the people of developing countries including Nigeria, in education is as strong as their faith in their religions. This is evident in the farming communities of the remote villages, and the training of their young ones in the professions of the families that form the bedrock upon which the modern education hinges. This believe has given a new definition that sees education as a cure for all societal ailments: be it poverty, ignorance, unemployment, improvement in agricultural practices, science and technological development, inventions and discovery, manufacturing and several others must be in place. There has been a firm belief that without education, development cannot occur. It has been generally conceived that only educated population can command the skills necessary for sustainable economic growth and a better quality of life.



Policy implementation and its relevance

A well designed and developed policy and procedure document will be effective only if it is implemented in an appropriate way to ensure maximum impact is achieved to address the particular policy purpose, issue or need. It is therefore critical to ensure that the implementation process is well thought out and effective.

For major policy and procedure developments or changes, or where a number of policy improvements are occurring simultaneously, an implementation plan should be developed to ensure that maximum impact of new policies and procedures is achieved.

An implementation plan involves:

v    Assigning responsibility to individuals/bodies for implementation tasks and feedback.

v    Specifying policy communication requirements.

v    Identifying the resources necessary to carry out implementation actions.

There are numerous ways of implementing new policies and procedures. The method chosen will depend on the organization and the type of policy system being implemented. These include:

  • Ø Direct Cutover
  • Ø Parallel
  • Ø Phased
  • Ø Pilot.

Direct cutover -there is a set date and time where the new policy overrides the old system or a brand new system is implemented.

Parallel- the new policy/system runs in tandem with the old system for a predetermined period of time. This implementation process allows for the old policy or system to act as a ‘backup’ process while any issues or problems with the new system are rectified.

Phased-the new policy/system is implemented in stages as the old policy is ‘phased out’.

Pilot-the new policy/system is tried in a particular area, program or department to rectify any issues before wide-scale implementation.

Reasons For Policy Implementation Failure

Lack of Political Will/Attitude to Public Policy Implementation: Public policy implementation or delivery is negatively or positively affected by the attitude or behavior of the implementers. That is, if they are negatively disposed to a policy, there will be lack of commitment to the implementation process. It has been stated above that the Nigerian state is privatized, dependent, and weak and lacks autonomy. Therefore, despite the availability of public policies that stands to better the lot of the average Nigerian, the state unfortunately lacks the political will to positively realize such policy objectives. The argument is that, even though the set  objectives of government policies stand to benefit the public, the cabal that holds the top echelon of government hostage, at any point in time, will jeopardize or frustrate the implementation of public policies. In the energy sector for instance, Nigeria with a population of over 140 million people presently generates only a miserable 1,500 mega watts capacity. And despite the sinking of a copious 13.2 billion American dollars in the sector by former President Olusegun Obasanjo regime between 1999-2007, no tangible result was achieved (Egbulefu, 2009:16).

Poor Program Leadership and Management: It is a truism that program leaders could be quite facilitative of implementation. They steer, direct and motivate program efforts. That is, an able, committed and enthusiastic leadership could build and strengthen the commitment devotion, loyalty, support and enthusiasm of staffs in program implementation. As Levin and Ferman, (1985) suggests that, leadership can be the significant political hidden hand that guides disorganized and disparage interests to converge in support of implementation policy. Unfortunately, the Nigerian state mainly parades an array of misfits for highly sensitive public positions. And this ugly scenario led to the inability of program leaders to create favorable environment for policy implementation. In a dispensation where square pegs are put in round holes and merit sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity, policy objectives cannot be positively realized.

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Lack of Resources: It is not as if Nigeria is a poor country in terms of material and human resources, but it is the formulation of wrong policies at the right time and discriminative or segregate funding of some policies that has led to the problem of lack of resources. This is because when most public policies are formulated, adequate provision of resources is not made to implement them. The Primary Health Care program, for instance stand to benefit massively the rural population and urban poor in the country, but resources are not appropriated to make it a success. There is thus politics of implementation because, the resources needed for adequate implementation are not provided to realize policy objectives. Policies such as the National Youth Service Corps scheme, National Immunization Program, Universal Basic Education and Transport Policies etc has continued to suffer set back due to the above trend.

Corruption: This is also a major issue in the politics of public policy implementation in Nigeria. When corruption penetrates the implementation process, public policies becomes mutated and the desired goals may not be achieved. Most public policies are formulated and funds appropriated for, but corruption like an octopus has continued to entangle, ruin and make impossible the implementation process. Due to corruption, Nigerian is still under the yolk of excruciating poverty despite the several efforts being made to alleviate poverty. For instance, the sum of 50 billion naira was allocated to the National Poverty Eradication Program (NAPEP) created by the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration, but paradoxically, the level of poverty instead of decreasing is rather on the increase. The fact remains that resources appropriated for the implementation of public policies are criminally diverted to private ends, hence frustrating the implementation process. It is also sad to note that most public policies only exist as conduct pipes to drain state resources by corrupt elements. For instance, the National Poverty Eradication Program was designed to pay the sum of three thousand naira monthly to some category of the unemployed in Nigerian to better their living condition. The program was however hijacked by corrupt politicians and instead of the poor benefiting from the scheme, the pay roll was filled by ghost names, unwarranted party loyalists and their children. Just because the state lacks autonomy and is dependent, those who control state power use it to enrich themselves and their cronies, which is detrimental to policy implementation. Service to the state in an uncorrupt manner is replaced with personal aggrandizement; therefore state resources are looted every now and then. Another clear case of corruption in Nigeria, which has run through the vein of every regime, be it military or civilian, is the massive corruption in the implementation of the annual budgets. Surprisingly, the examination of 2008 Appropriation Bill by the National Assembly led to the discovery of unspent fund of #450 billion from the 2007 budget, which was in sharp contrast to the about #25 billion presented in the budget. The sum was captured for re-appropriation in the 2008 budget. Again, the scrutiny of 2009 Appropriation Bill led to the return of #350 billion as unspent funds from the 2008 budget. In four years (2008-2011), the country was saved about #1 trillion unspent funds. This was possible due

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to a presidential directive for ministries and other government agencies to return unspent funds to the treasury. Hitherto, these unspent funds were pocketed through bogus end-of year contracts that were not executed or frivolous capacity building spree (Aluko, 2011).


Since 1944, during the colonial era, governments in Nigeria have expressed a commitment to education, in the belief that overcoming illiteracy and ignorance will form a basis for accelerated national development as evidenced by British Colonial participation in educational provision, the UPE of the western and eastern region in the 1950s, the 1976 national UPE and the current UBE programmes. Education is very crucial to the development of citizens. Nigeria, however, has problems such as inequalities in access to education, an educational gap between the north and south, dwindling financial resources, and inadequate infrastructures. These barriers continue to impede the effectiveness of the educational system. The relationship between education and national development is a matter of critical interest to present and past governments of the country. Similarly, Constitutional reviews in the country and in recognition of the fact that educational policy is dynamic, have led the Federal Government of Nigeria to revise the National Policy on Education from 1977, resulting in four editions to date. In synopsis, the National Policy on Education is dynamic and subject to amendments so as to make it relevant and effective in addressing societal problems and meeting the needs of the pluralistic Nigerian society. In addition, in order to minimize conflict, it is good that people are adequately involved in the policy process and cognizance must be taken in education policy reviews of all the good parts of educational policies, whether they be of former British colonial masters or of the post-colonial era. Also, the values of traditional African education for self-reliance should be infused into the educational policy. This calls for a review of the National Policy on Education in the light of the new socio-economic demands. Correspondingly, the effect of political instability on the goals of education and mobilization of resources is all too evident. A stable democracy no doubt would provide the necessary conducive environment for the effective implementation of the National Educational Policy. This review of educational policy development in Nigeria provides a platform for comparative study of educational policies of countries with pluralistic societies and those that have undergone colonialism and which are still evolving.


i. The education secretaries should have been involved in the initial stage of policy formulation and preparation.

ii. Economic condition has been identified as one of the major influencing factor for the implementation of NEPs.

iii. There was a need of strong coordination amongst various departments and stakeholders.

iv. Primary education shall be made compulsory and free to achieve UPE (2015) through fully implementation of NEPs.


Aliu, Y.O. (1997). Introduction to Manual on University Management. Abuja: National University Commission.

Buchmann, C. (1999). Educational Inequality and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prospects. Quarterly Review of Comparative Education, 29, 503-515.

Buchmann, C., & Hannum, E. (2001). Education and Stratification in Developing Countries: A Review of Theories and Research. Annual Review of Sociology, 27(1), 77-102.

Dike, K.O. (1980). 100 Years of British Rule in Nigeria, 1851-1957. In I. Obaro (Ed.), Groundwork of Nigerian History. Ibadan: Heinemann.

Fabunmi, M. (2005). Historical Analysis of Educational Policy Formulation in Nigeria: Implications for Educational Planning and policy. International Journal of African and African American Studies, 4(2), 1-7.

Fafunwa, A. B. (2004). History of Education in Nigeria. Ibadan: NPC Educational Publishers Ltd.).

Federal Republic of Nigeria (1973). Report of the Seminar on a National Policy on Education. Lagos: Federal Ministry of Education.

Federal Republic of Nigeria (1977). National Policy on Education. Lagos: Government Printer.


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