Quality Education for a Just and True System: The State of Education in Nigeria, 2020

Education in Nigeria holds a special place in our heart. With the country's Independence Day coming up in just a few days, we decided to take a look at the current state of education in the country.


Quality Education for a Just and True System: The State of Education in Nigeria, 2020, summarizes the latest data and current state of education in Nigeria in regards to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education, which seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030. Ensuring quality education for all will also contribute to the success of eradicating poverty (Goal 1), ensuring the health and wellbeing of all (Goal 3), gender equality (Goal 5), decent work and economic growth (Goal 8), reduced inequalities (Goal 10) and peace, justice and strong institutions, (Goal 16).

The Nigerian education system currently reflects a broken education system that makes it difficult for Nigerian children to receive quality education. The system can be turned around with swift intervention from its own leaders and people. This report uses data from global sources and organizations and is designed to help leaders, education influencers and key stakeholders monitor educational progress of SDG 4, challenges and solutions in the Nigerian educational system through three major findings:

  1. Opportunities for sustainable and effective partnerships between private and public sector stakeholders in Nigeria

  2. The need for an immediate increase investment from the government of Federal Republic of Nigeria

  3. The necessity for innovative education models to achieve key targets and indicators to achieve quality education for all Nigerian students

With these findings and the consideration of implementation, education in Nigeria could be considered a leading system within the decade - one that actually helps our youth the truth to know.


Despite the considerable progress on the access to education and participation made globally over the years, pre-pandemic, Nigeria contributed to 20% of the total global out of school population. About 10.5 million of the country’s children aged 5-14 years were not in school - 61 percent of 6-11 year-olds regularly attended primary school and only 35.6 percent of children aged 3-5 years received early childhood education.

While the absence of these students varies, the reasons have majorly been contributed to socio-cultural and economic factors. Due to COVID-19, the country faces an even bigger struggle to ensure young children stay in school and have access to proper education. Contributing factors such as the economy and the recent collapse in oil prices, for an economy still getting 86% of public revenue from oil and gas, play a major role in this foreseeable debacle.

There are 10 key indicating targets for ensuring quality education for all students to achieve SDG4. In Nigeria, progressive opportunity presents itself in sustainable partnerships, proper investment from the government of Nigeria and reimagined educational models and initiatives during and post pandemic.


The foundation for a quality education goes far beyond learning in the classroom.

Growing Population

Nigeria’s exponential growth in population has put an immense pressure on the country’s resources and on already overstretched public services and infrastructure. A high percentage of the out-of-school children are in the northern part of Nigeria, but with a population of 200 million people, these challenges have dealt a crippling blow to the educational system through poor funding, discriminatory practices, decayed infrastructure, weak and obsolete legal and regulatory regime - a recipe for disaster for the educational system.

Growing Opportunities

Despite the challenges, there is opportunity for private and public sector entities to build partnerships now more than ever.

Public-Private Partnerships have been identified as an efficient approach to meet the changing demands of the education sector to build or transform existing schools. These partnerships deliver leadership and management solutions, school improvement, skills partnership and education reform to make a tangible difference in the lives of children, communities and the country.

These partnerships could help aid the demand weighing heavily on educational institutions and goals 4A and B respectively:

SDG4:4A seeks to build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all and,

SDG4:4B which will help expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrollment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries

When Governments Take Action for Education

Intentional Government aid is needed in terms of investing in educational tools of the future alongside a total revamp of the educational sector.

In 2018, only 6.7% of the country’s budget was allocated to education. This is far below UNESCO’s recommended 20%. Reform in funding and national curriculum post-pandemic would be an effective way to bridge the gap of inequality.

An immediate increase in budget spending for education would tackle uninterrupted schooling in addition to:

SDG 4:1, ensuring that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes

SDG 4:2, ensuring that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education

SDG 4:3, ensuring equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university and,

SDG 4:4, substantially increasing the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship

Neighboring county, Ghana, is a successful model in regards to education. The Government of Ghana was able to increase their budget for education, which provides free access to education for secondary school students. They were able to see an increase in learner enrollment and graduation.

Re-imagined Education Models

The necessity for innovative education models is mandatory to achieve the key targets and indicators to achieve quality education for all Nigerian students.

The current climate of education, especially during a pandemic has left students and the education system worried about the future. In trying to establish a new normal for education, it is imperative that organizations, institutions and the government redesign methods of learning to cater to the students out of school because of the pandemic and to the 10.5 million students who were never enrolled in school due to a host of other reasons.

The pandemic has brought to light flaws within the Nigerian educational system and the factors contributing to the breakdown, including but not limited to gender based violence, unpaid labour, unqualified teaching professionals and a number of injustices. Now is the time for these organizations to come together to tackle education in a new way.

Models that cater to the importance of strategic approaches to positive inclusive, literacy performance outcomes would be beneficial for the country in an immense way; tackling:

SDG 4: 5, eliminating gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations

SDG 4:6, ensuring that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy and,


Education models which invests in teachers and is committed to the positive learning outcomes of students, can help to find solutions to the 60% of primary-age school girls out of school and to combat the 30 percent of the population that can not read or write though primary pre school and primary students.

Their dedication to involving parents in the structure is also another incentive for students to go and stay in school.

Education impacts health, well-being, poverty, job opportunities, environmental behaviour and values towards gender equality. It underpins stability in developing nations like Nigeria and drives economic prosperity.

Education in Nigeria during and post-pandemic must to be evaluated through the lens of the SDG4 targets. This report suggests that the SDGs will provide an effective framework for measuring progress and tackling gender inequality, and that governments should use them as touchstones for policy making. Quality education is a human right and a public good. Governments and other public authorities should ensure that quality education service is available freely to all citizens from early childhood into adulthood. Quality education provides the foundation for equity in society and ensures that Nigerian children are able to fully realize their limitless potential.