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How Education System Differs between Nigeria, America and England


Of the world operates an educational system that is unique and peculiar from other countries. However, there are some noticeable similarities between some of the educational systems of countries across the world.

Nigerian System of Education

The Nigerian educational system will be highlighted and compared with five other educational systems. The goals of Nigerian educational system are hinged on the five main national objectives of building:

  1. A free and democratic society
  2. A just and egalitarian society
  3. A united, strong and self-reliant nation
  4. A great and dynamic economy, and
  5. A land of brighter and full opportunities for all citizens.

These objectives have formed the bedrock of the current national policy on education promulgated in 1977 and revised in 1981.

The formal educational system in Nigeria is referred to as a ‘6-3-3-4 system’ implying 6 years of primary school, 3 years of junior secondary school, 3 years of senior secondary school,  and 4 years of university education for normal bachelor’s degree.

In reality, secondary education also goes on in technical and vocational schools and Grade 2 teacher-training colleges for training primary school teachers.

Tertiary education also covers polytechnics and colleges of technology, as well as colleges of education for training middle level teachers for primary and junior secondary schools.

Primary education is free and supposed to be universal but it is not compulsory. The official age of admission to primary schools is 6 years.

Most of the schools are government-owned; few are private-owned. The age of entry to junior secondary school is normally 12 years.

Tuition fees are charged in all secondary institutions. After junior secondary school, the students may process to senior schools, technical schools and vocational schools, or Grade 2 teacher-training colleges.

At the tertiary level, colleges of education run the three year programmes leading to the award of Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE), Polytechnics and College of Technology run two-and four-year programmes leading to the award of National Diploma (ND) and Higher National Diploma (HND) respectively.

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Usually, an ND holder must do a  year of industrial attachments before proceeding to NHD.

Universities run a wide range of programmes lasting 3 to 7 years. Tertiary education is tuition-free in federal-owned institutions while fees are charged in the state-owned institutions.

There previous for pre-school education; special education; vocational education; technical and business education; and adult and non-formal education.

With respect to funding of education, primary and tertiary levels are funded by the Federal Government (except for state-owned tertiary institutions) and are tuition (tuition fees are paid in state-owned tertiary institutions), while secondary education is the responsibility of the state governments. Here, tuition fees are charged.

A comparison will now be made between Nigerian educational system and five other educational systems though a close examination.

Educational System in England

Education in England is compulsory from 5 to 16 years of age and attendance is virtually 100 per cent in primary and secondary education.

Primary education comprises an ‘infant’ stage (5 to 7 years of age) and a junior stage (8 to 11/12). Primary schooling normally lasts 6 years, from ages 6 6 to 11, just like what obtains in Nigeria.

Unlike in Nigeria, secondary education in England consists of a minimum 5-year course. While a few grammar (more academic) schools and single-sex schools continue to exist, education at this level is generally comprehensive and co-educational. Education for the 16-19 age group takes place in secondary schools (in what are known as ‘sixth forms’, as well as in special institutions (sixth form colleges), tertiary colleges and colleges of further education.

The tertiary sector comprises universities, including the Open University, teacher-training colleges; and colleges of higher, technical or further.

Just like in Nigeria, there are provisions for pre-education, special education, vocational education, technical and business education, and adult non-formal education.

The Department for Education (DFE) has overall responsibility for education in England The day-today running of the schools and further education has generally been in the hands of the104 Local Education authorities (LEAs).

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Hence, the description of the educational system in England  as being national, but locally administered’.

A number of voluntary schools, usually provided by Anglican, Catholic or Jewish denominations, exist. In England though, while greater control has passed to central government at the expense of the LEAs, there has been a move to give greater autonomy to schools.

In the area of funding, the central government provides the bulk of resources which are mainly spent by the LEAs. The central government funds all higher education in English.

American System of Education

A salient characteristic of education in the United States is that it is extremely decentralized system. Federal, State and Local Governments share varying degrees of responsibility for its administration and regulation.

The federal government of the US has no general mandate for the control or provision of public education.

Each of the 50 states in the Union is responsible for its own system of public instruction. All States provide free and compulsory education. Most States provide education from the age of 6 or 7 to 16.

Typically, primary schooling begins at the age of 6 and concludes at the age of 11. Important expectations to this rule are those school districts that possess a middle school system. In such systems, students attend middle schools from about age 10-13.

Some school districts divide secondary schools into lower-and upper-secondary schools called ‘junior’ and ‘senior’ high schools respectively.

Other systems have a single unified high school that covers all of the secondary grades. Still, other systems have middle schools that lead to three-or four-year high schools.

The tertiary level of the formal educational system is composed of three types of institutions of higher education junior or community, colleges, junior colleges as well as vocational/technical institutions.

Usually other two-to three-year programmes that grant an associate degree or certificate, whereas four-year colleges and universities other the four-year bachelor’s degree.

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Provisions are also made for Pre-school (pre-primary) education; special education; vocational education; technical and business education, and adult and non-formal education.

Part two of this article will be posted in the next post. If the article helps, kindly comment and share.


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