Change in Adult Education in Nigeria
written by Christopher Ewuzie, International Peace Foundation, Nigeria
Nigeria is a
vast and diverse country in Africa south of the Sahara. It is a federation of 30 states and has a population of about 80
million comprising nearly 250 cultural and linguistic groups. Agriculture is
the mainstay of the economy, accounting for nearly half the national income and
providing occupation and employment for about 70% of the population. The
mineral resources are oil, which has boosted the economy in recent years, tin,
coal, iron, limestone and columbite.
and state governments of the Federation place high premium on education. They
recognize it as a weapon against ignorance, disease, squalor and poverty and as
a means of raising an en-lightened, lively and industrious citizenry and of
producing a prosperous nation. However, the educational history of the nation
is a chequered one mainly due to its colonial experience which has left a
definite mark on the consciousness of the people. As a third world country, the
nation has failed to achieve any significant success at economic decolonization
because it has been unable to make a sharp break with its colonial past.
Instead it tried to graft into the development pattern of the industrialized
countries and mimicked their life-styles. The result has been intensification
of the centuries old crisis.
underlying interest in the topic is that "Change in Adult Education" in a
developing country such as Nigeria is a welcome one; as the change is hoped to
bring about socio-economic progress and emancipation, and act as a very vital
instrument in the development of the nation and its citizenry.
Adult and Non-formal
Education in Nigeria
and non-formal education in Nigeria has
been apparently much neglected aspect of educational activities in the country.
This neglect could be traced to our colonial heritage where the British
colonial masters and the early missionaries who pioneered education in the
African Continent paid attention only to formal education to train clerks and
interpreters in the Government service and commercial houses; and teachers or
chatechists in the church. The complication and the problem of organising and
administering non-formal education is yet another reason for the neglect.
it was in the Third National Development Plan (1975 - 80) that provision was
first made in real terms for adult education in the country by the federal
government. The aforesaid plan took into focus the establishment of Center for
Adult Education for running correspondence and adult education courses and to
conduct research into various aspects of adult end non-formal education. Mereni
(1988) opines that the processes of adult learning and teaching as a systematic
study are recent innovation and were formerly largely informal activities. With
the growth in research interest in the areas, they become more distinctly
defined in terms of form, techniques and strategies involved.
education in Nigeria is presently geared towards national development. The objective of the
processes of adult education and national development is to get the adults,
either as individuals or as a group, to learn and through learning to change
their attitude and behaviour. The policy on education states the objectives of
adult education as:
1. To provide functional literacy education for adults who have never had
the opportunity of any formal education.
2. To provide functional and remedial education for those young people who
prematurely dropped out of the formal school system
3. To provide further education for different categories of completers of
the formal education system in order to improve their basic knowledge and
4. To provide in-service and on-the-job vocational and professional
training for different categories of workers and professionals in order to
improve their skills.
5. To give the adult citizens of the country aesthetic, cultural and civic
education for public enlightenment.
(1981) opines that all these objectives have one end in view - to equip the
adult with every-thing he needs for life in order to be relevant to his society
by helping to solve some of its problems. We have to recognise that development
is of man, by man and for man. Man is the master of his destiny and adult
education serves to bring about a fundamental change in man´s attitudes and
life style. To survive, people must have awareness and to become aware they
must be literate. The Nigerian nation has realised this.
Elements Of Change In
Adult Education In Nigeria
with the evidence of an appallingly low standard of living which the vast
majority of men and women in Nigeria have, despite two and a half decades of
national development and development plans, the Federal and State Governments
now attempt to ensure that the real targets of development are the human beings
who will remain central to all re-definitions and to all revised strategies.
Some of the major problems of present day Nigeria are
poverty, hunger, indiscipline, unemployment and under-development. To mitigate
or solve these problems adult education is important.
momentum of change in adult education in Nigeria is strongly embedded in the
Nigerian national Development Plans of 1970 - 75 and 1975 - 80; which guiding
the Federal Government in its national planning process have the following
1. The building of a united, strong and self-reliant nation.
2. The building of a great and dynamic economy.
3. The building of a just and egalitarian society.
4. The building of a land bright and full of opportunities for all
citizens, and lastly,
5. The building of a free and democratic society.
foregoing national development objectives, one perceives that "the nation
cannot be strong (according to Eke, 1972) when the vast majority of its
citizens live in ignorance". For development plans to materialise,
participation and commitment of the people is essential. People cannot
participate if they are not made politically conscious of the significance of
development to them as individuals or as a nation. Illiterate people cannot
understand the significance of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), defence
and loyalty to the country, educational reforms, health campaigns,
privatisation policies, nation-building efforts and of course, self
satisfaction and self-reliance. Through adult education. the individual fulfils
himself within the framework of his society.
in Nigeria is becoming more and more difficult" writes Ipaye (1980) "not
because of inflation, not because of armed robbery, not because of the new
political system we are experimenting but mainly because the individual
Nigerian does not understand himself adequately well and as a result he does
not understand his fellowmen". For Nigeria to move
meaningfully forward in its economic, social, cultural and political
development, its adult population must be educated. In this view I agree with
Nyerere of Tanzania who believes that people must develop first before the
nation can develop. He put this idea forcefully when he declared that:
We cannot afford to wait for the
First, we must educate the
Our children will not have an
impact on our economic development for five, ten or even twenty years.
... adults have an impact now!
present the change in adult education process in Nigeria is manifesting in many
ways as we are witnessing great efforts made by the Government in adult
literacy in the country. There is the establishment of Agency for mass
education in all the 30 states of the Federation including Abuja. The creation of various
directorates for public education and enlightenment like the Directorate of
Foods, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI), the laudable Mass Mobilisation
for Social and Economic Recovery (MAMSER), the National Directorate for Employment
(NDE), War Against Indiscipline (WAI) Brigade, Better Life for Rural Women and
the Family Support Programmes. The achievements and objectives of these
agencies and directorates have had a commendable impact in the country. The
task before these directorates is to mobilise the people of Nigeria towards the
attainment of our five national development objectives enumerated earlier in
Innovations In Adult
Education Programs In Nigeria
the challenges presented by the above dimensions in adult education in the
country, innovative programmes have been put in place such as:
1. basic Literacy Programme: This is a one-month programme organised and financed by some Local
Government Councils in some states of the Federation. It is held under the
co-ordination and supervision of the States´ Ministries of Education.
2. Post Literacy Programme: This is organised by the Ministry of Education in some States of the
Federation for completers of Basic Literacy Programmes and drop outs from
formal primary schools to upgrade their knowledge to the level of first school
3. Women Adult Education Programme: This programme is organised by Christian Missionaries and Local
Government Councils. The Ministry of Education grants aid to the voluntary
organisations to reduce costs. The course is solely designed to improve the
services of literate and illiterate
women in the society.
4. Distance Education Programme: This program-me is organised by the States´ Ministries of Education
and some institution of higher education in the country. It is designed for all
those who because of the nature of their age are unable to enrol in the regular
or formal educational system. The medium of instruction is by correspondence,
radio or television.
5. Sandwich Programme: This is organised by various institutions of higher education in the
country for adults who stay in other commitments for most of the year and come
into residence in their various schools when they can afford it.
6. Nomadic Education Programme: Nigerian nomads are mostly cattle rearers who do not settle in a place
because they have to follow their herds of cattle around in search of grazable
pasture. They do not receive formal education. Mobile Education Programme has
been established to take care of this unfortunate situation.
most developing countries have placed undue emphasis on formal education while
apparently neglecting adult and non-formal education. The present economic
development in the African Region compares very unfavourably with levels
already attained by developed countries as well as by a number of developing
countries in other regions. This is because 65% of the African population are
illiterates. Adult Education, though taken by the Nigerian society to be a
low-cost area of educational system, but from the point of view of return on
investment, it is the most immediately productive and profitable for the
What seems to be needed more in Nigeria today is a development-oriented
non-formal education to ensure the principle of self-reliance both in national
and individual terms.
literacy although strictly not within the formal system has a great influence
on the quantity and quality of education in the formal system. It should be
pursued vigorously. Adult literacy and adult education are necessary to ensure
an enlightened government and citizenry, whose insights, activities and
decisions are very vital to the cause of education and the achievement of
national goals. Thus change in Adult Education in Nigeria is welcome.