Objectives of junior secondary school program and implementation of school curriculum in Nigeria
In Nigeria, Junior Secondary Education is a component of basic education which came on board with the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme in 1999. Such education has a duration of three years and is meant for children of between the age of twelve (12) and fifteen (15) years. The children are expected to undergo occupational training in order to develop vocational competence and/or prepare them for self-employment or proceed to the senior secondary classes where they will be further trained for tertiary education. To what extent has the Junior Secondary Education been functional in the course of implementation of Universal Basic Education, the mother programme? This paper is an examination of the functionality of Junior Secondary Education within the framework of Universal Basic Education programme implementation, using indices such as the level of access to it vis- a- vis the population of children that fall within that age group, teachers quality and quantity, infrastructures facilities status, transition rate from JS3 to SS1, quality of its outputs, as well as efficiency in the production of outputs. Adequate funding of UBE programme, increased orientation/sensitization of the people, recruitment, training and motivation of teachers, commitment of teachers, provision of infrastructure and facilities for schools, enforcement of policy on transition rate from JS3 to SS1, as well as curbing of wastage in schools are recommended, to improve the functionality and enhance the achievement of Universal Basic Education programme objectives, as laid down by the planners.
Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme was inaugurated in Nigeria in 1999. This action is one of Nigeria’s positive reactions to the Jomtien Declaration of Education for All by year 2000 (Okeke, 2012). It is a programme which encompasses early childhood, primary, junior secondary and other kinds of non-formal education. Among these components, Junior Secondary Education is unique because apart from complementing the education already received by a child at the primary level, it completes the required nine-year basic education cycle. It is a stage where the vocational thrust of basic education is consolidated and where core, vocational, non-prevocational and academic subjects are offered and taught. The core subjects include English Language, Mathematics, French, and a major Nigerian language other than that of the environment, Basic Science, Social Studies, Citizenship Education, and Basic Technology. The pre-vocational subjects include Agricultural Science, Business Studies, Home Economics, Local Crafts, Fine Arts, Computer Education, and Music while the non-prevocational subjects include Religious Knowledge, Physical and Health Education, and Arabic. Certification of a child at the end of this phase depends on his/her performance in the Continuous Assessment (CA) and the Junior School Certificate Examination (JSCE), being coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Education (if owned by Federal Government) or State Ministry of Education (if at the state level). A child thus has to write the Junior School Certificate Examination (JSCE) at the end of this phase while a child with the minimum number of passes in the subjects in the curriculum including English Language and Mathematics (varies across the states) qualifies to be promotedto the Senior Secondary (SS) phase where he/she will be trained for additional three years. When a child fails the JSCE (i.e. fails to obtain the minimum passes including English Language and Mathematics) he/she is expected to enroll in technical college, an out-of-school vocational training centre or apprenticeship programme.
EDUCATION CONCEPT AND PURPOSES IN NIGERIA
Education has many definitions. Many individuals in different professions had attempted to provide definition for the concept. It is thus difficult to have a universally acceptable definition for it. From the definitions in literature, one can really form an opinion of what it means. Encyclopedia Americana defines education as a process by which individual gains knowledge or insight or develops attitudes/skills. According to O’Connell (1965), it is the social mechanism which is designed to bring about in the person(s) that submit to it, certain skills and attitudes that are useful and desirable in the society. From the definitions and others still in literature, it can be deduced that education is geared towards the training of a child to acquire knowledge, experience, values, skill, traits which can enable him/her fit properly into the society in which he or she lives.
Education can be informal, non-formal, and formal in nature. When it is informal, it is organized on individual, family or community level and does not involve curriculum, formal teaching and learning (Aghenta, 1999). When it is non-formal, it involves functional literacy, remedial, and continuing education outside the formal school system. Such education is also described as out-of-school education with no defined age group, rules and regulations, syllabus, certified public examination, as well as regular certificate (Aghenta, 1999). Formal education is acquired in institutions of learning including primary, secondary and tertiary. While primary education is meant for children of the age of between six and eleven years, secondary education follows the primary education and meant for a child of the age of 12 years. It is divided into three years of Junior Secondary (JS) and three years of Senior Secondary (SS) education, in line with the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme policy. Tertiary education is the ultimate of the education process which is aimed at enriching the knowledge and skills of individual beyond secondary education. Such education can be acquired in universities, polytechnics/monotechnics, colleges of education, school of nursing, school of health technology, school of midwifery and others of higher status than the secondary (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004, p.36).
In Nigeria, education is expected to:
- inculcate national consciousness and national unity;
- inculcate the right type of values and attitudes for the survival of individual and the Nigerian society;
- train the mind in the understanding the world around; and
- enable a child acquires appropriate skills, abilities, and competencies, both mental and physical, as equipment to live and contribute to the development of the society (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004, 4).
Why Universal Basic Education Programme in Nigeria?
It is very pertinent to ask the question: why the inauguration of Universal Basic Education programme in Nigeria. It is worthy to note that prior to the inauguration of Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme in Nigeria in September, 1999, many issues were at stake in the provision of basic education. Many children that supposed to be in school then could not gain access. According to Alabi (2005), out of 21 million children of school-age in Nigeria as at 1996, only 14.1 million children were in schools. The primary education completion rate was then 64% while transition to secondary school rate was 43.5%. It was also evident (Okoro, 1998) that there was disparity in the provision of basic education on gender and geographical location bases (i.e. in favour of the Southern part). Infrastructural facilities were also not only inadequate but in a decayed state (Okoro, 1998). The poor state of education then, prompted Federal Government to introduce Universal Basic Education Programme, to strengthen the nation’s basic education, remove the distortions and inconsistencies in its delivery, as well as reinforce the implementation of the National Policy on Education. The programme is also meant to eradicate illiteracy, ignorance, and poverty among the citizenry, as well as stimulate and accelerate national development, ensure political consciousness and national integration (Educational Research Network for West and Central Africa, 2003) as well as provide free and compulsory basic education for all school-aged children,irrespective of their physical and gender status. It was launched as an evidence of Nigeria’s commitment to increase the access of the citizens to basic education, in line with the global crusade of Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Universal Basic Education: Vision and Mission Statements
It is expected that at the end of the 9-year training, every child should have acquired the basic literacy, numeracy, communicative and manipulative skills which would enable him/her to survive in the society, reduce the dependence on white collar jobs, as well as promote positive contribution to national development. Each child is also expected to display good moral, ethical and civic values within the society in which he/she lives. As regards the mission, the programme is expected to serve as prime energizer of national movement for actualization of the nation’s Universal Basic Education vision, while trying to work in concert with all stakeholders and mobilizing the nation’s creative energies to ensure that Education for All becomes the responsibility of all.
Scope and Objectives of Universal Basic Education
Universal Basic Education is a synergy of the words: ‘universal’, ‘basic’ and ‘education’. Being universal is an indication that it is an inclusive education where all persons in all manners and conditions of physical, spatial, gender, racial and psychological status will benefit from it. Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of English defines ‘Basic’ as the foundation or fundamental aspect of something which means the aspect on which other structures rest. The word ‘Education’ had been described earlier in this paper.
The UBE programme includes:
- Programmes/initiatives for early childhood care and social mobilization.
- Education programmes for the acquisition of functional literacy, numeracy and life-skills especially for adults (persons aged 15 and above).
- Out-of-school, non-formal programmes for updating the knowledge and skills of persons who left school before acquiring the basics needed for lifelong
- Special programmes for nomadic
- Non-formal skills and apprenticeship training for adolescents and youths who have not had the benefit of formal education. and
- The formal school system, from the beginning of primary education to the end of junior secondary school. As indicated in its Implementation Guidelines, Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme has is expected to:
- develop in the entire citizenry, a strong consciousness for education and commitment to its rigorous promotion;
- provide free Universal Basic Education for every Nigeria child of school-going age;
- reduce drastically, the incidence of dropout from formal education system, through improved relevance, quality, and efficiency;
- cater for the learning needs of young persons, their schooling, through appropriate forms of complimentary approaches to the provision and promotion of basic education; and– ensure the acquisition of appropriate level of literacy, numeracy, manipulative, communicative, and life skills, as well as the ethical, moral and civic values needed for laying a solid foundation for life-long learning (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999).
Junior Secondary Education within Basic Education In Nigeria
Junior Secondary Education is the upper basic education which is having three years duration and provided in secondary schools. It is expected to:
- provide an increasing number of primary school pupils with the opportunity for education of higher quality;
- diversify its curriculum to cater for deficiencies in talents, opportunities and roles;
- equip students to live effectively in our modern age of science and technology;
- develop and project Nigerian culture;
- raise a generation of people who can think for themselves, respect the views and feelings of others as well as have respect for dignity of labour;
- foster the unity of Nigeria; and
- inspire its students with a desire for achievement and self improvement (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004).
Functionality of Junior Secondary Education and useful indicators
The word ‘functionality’ literally means the quality in something of being very suitable for the purpose it was designed for (Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of English). Functionality of education is thus how well education has served the purpose for which it is intended. According to Otubelu (2000), functionality serves as rationale or justification for the educational efforts put in place for achievement of educational objectives, through educational services. As further stressed by him, it is this essence that keeps the objectives to be fulfilled in view. Being an integral part of Universal Basic Education programme, it implies that the functionality of Junior Secondary Education will indirectly reflect the functionality of Universal Basic Education programme, that is, if Junior Secondary Education is well implemented, it will yield positive dividends in the implementation of the Universal Basic Education programme. According to Otubelu, (2000), the scope of functionality of education is vast as it embraces all forms and levels of education which have some input in the achievement of some specific objectives. In the context of this paper, functionality of Junior Secondary Education is explained using some indices, such as:
Level of Access: It cannot be contested that the introduction of UBE programme has increased the opportunities for children to enroll for Junior Secondary Education since its inception in 1999.
Table 1: Enrolment in Junior Secondary Schools in Nigeria: 2008-2010
|Year||No. of Schools||Enrolment|
Source: Universal Basic Education Commission (2010), cited in Federal Ministry of Education (2011). The state of education in Nigeria beyond access
As indicated in Table 1, number of schools increased from 8, 827 in 2008 to 9, 850 in 2009 and 11, 295 in 2010. Except in 2009, there was increase in enrolment from 3, 498, 553 in 2008 to 4, 313, 164 in 2010. In spite of the increase in enrolment, many children of JSE age-level are still not having access to it. Report (Federal Ministry of Education Digest of Education Statistics, 2011) indicates that in year 2006, population of JSE age children was 3,401,419, out of these, only 1,655,098 children (i.e.48.95) enrolled for it. Adiukwu (2009) also found that the expected enrolment in Junior Secondary Education in 2009 was 9.27 million while actual enrolment was 3.27 million, indicating a shortfall of 6.0 million. Situation where many children that suppose to be exposed to this kind education are not having access to it, will serve as setback for the achievement of the goals of basic education.
Curriculum implementation: As indicated in National Policy on Education (FRN, 2004), the curriculum of Junior Secondary Education is pre-vocational and academic in scope. The subjects offered include English Language,
Mathematics, French, a major Nigerian language other than that of the environment, Basic Science, Social Studies, Citizenship Education, Basic Technology, Agricultural Science, Business Studies, Home Economics, Local Crafts, Fine Arts, Computer Education, Music, Religious Knowledge, Physical and Health Education, as well as Arabic. Ordinarily, apart from theoretical lesson, practical lesson suppose to be conducted for students in some subjects such as Basic Science, Basic Technology and pre vocational subjects such as Agricultural Science, Home Economics, Computer Education, to enable them acquire the basic skills that will prepare them for senior secondary and higher education, as well as apprenticeship (for those that will not continue their education beyond the level), as stipulated in the policy thrust. Unfortunately, these skills are non/less acquired because of lack of exposure/inadequate exposure to practical training (Emonfonwan, 2000). Consequently, most of the products at this level only possess theoretical and less practical skill which is contrary to the policy thrust of this level of education.
Quality and performance of Intakes: Over the years, there have been complaints about the low quality of primary education outputs in Nigeria (Chinelo, 2011; Ige, 2011; Yusuf, 2009; Osho & Osho, 2000). Many people are contending that in Nigeria, primary education can no longer provide the expected literacy and numeracy skill for its clients. Unfortunately, the recruitment of many low quality outputs of primary schools into secondary creates stress for the teachers who have to double their effort to teach the students effectively. Reports (Adeyemi & Ige, 2002; Omoregie (2005) confirm the poor quality of secondary schools’ students and outputs in Nigeria which is reflecting in increasing failure in examinations, particularly the Junior School Certificate Examinations..
Transition rate from JS3 to SS1: The policy stipulates seventy percent (70%) as the transition rate from JS3 to SS1. Data in Table 2 shows the rate from 2006/2007 to 2008/2009 sessions in schools.
Table 2: Transition rate from JS3 to SS1 in Nigeria: 2006-200
|Year/session||No. of Students in JS3||No. of Students in SS1||Transition Rate (%)|
Source: Universal Basic Education Commission (2010), in Federal Ministry of Education: State of Education in Nigeria beyond Access. Abuja, Nigeria: Federal Government Press
As indicated in Table 2, the transition rate in 2006/2007 was 107.7% as against 98% in 2007/2008 and 95.6% in 2008/2009. It implies from these figures that almost all students who completed JS3 were promoted to SS1 which is non compliance with what the policy stipulates. In addition, except in 2007/2008, transition rate which is above 100% indicates the presence of students who were not admitted directly from JS3, who could be repeaters in SS1 for the years or those admitted directly through mainstreaming from non-formal education programmes. Apart from the fact that most parents are not favourably disposed to premature termination of their children’s education, notwithstanding their level of academic incompetency, students are always ready to go to any length to ensure uninterrupted progression to the highest class in schools. There are situations where those that could not pass the Junior Secondary Certificate Examination at the first attempt are given opportunity to resit the Examination while none of those affected ever failed thereafter (Emonfonwan, 2000). It is disturbing that some engage in examination malpractice as a way out while some principals aid and abet undue promotion of students. Some don’t want their students to repeat, a situation which they consider would make such students to leave their schools which may ultimately affect their revenue drive. In most schools, Cont inuous Assessment records that complement examination records are poorly kept (Ige, 2013) while some Schools do inflate scores which do not reflect students’ academic capability, in an attempt to win government and parents’ favour,
Authors (Fadipe, 2003; Achimugu, 2005; FRN, 2004) have agreed that that teacher constitutes the principal stakeholder in education process, particularly in the move to implement UBE programme successfully (Eya & Anih, 2012). Teacher’s variables such as quantity, quality, and commitment are very vital to the functionality of Junior Secondary Education in Nigeria. In spite of the role of teachers in the educational system, issues of inadequacy and low quality teachers in Junior Secondary Schools in Nigeria are prevalent (Moja, 2000; Omorege, 2005; Federal Ministry of Education, 2003; CBN, 2010). Even though Policy stipulates 1:35 students at secondary school level, statistics and reports in literature reveals non-conformity with this. The report of the roadmap for Nigerian Education Sector in 2009, by Federal Ministry of Education specifically revealed that there was shortfall of 581 teachers in Junior Secondary Schools in Nigeria as at then. Obanya (2006), cited in Wasagu (2006) also reported the findings of a study of Secondary Education in four States in Nigeria (i.e. Enugu, Kaduna, Lagos, and River) as follows:
There were shortfalls in the supply of secondary school teachers in the four states;
- The shortfall affects every subject taught at the secondary schools;
- Subjects such as Religious Studies, Commerce were also characterised by shortage of teachers;
- Mother tongue languages (i.e. Hausa and Igbo and Yoruba) were also characterised by inadequate teachers;
- Mathematics and technical/vocational subjects topped the list of teacher-deprive subjects; and
- Lagos, the most economically endowed among the four states had the highest list of teachers’ deprived
The inadequacy of teachers is noticeable mostly in the core subjects such as English Language, Mathematics, French, and Sciences (Ndefo, Alani & Fagbamiye, 2006, cited in Okorodudu, 2011) and in the rural areas (Arhebo, Adomeh & Aluede, 2009; Ediho, 2009). Although Nigerian Certificate in Education (NCE) is the minimum qualification for teaching in the educational system (National Policy of Education, 2004), many secondary schools’ teachers still parade lower qualifications such as Grade II certificate thus implying that they are unfit for teaching (FME, 2007; 2009b). UNESCO (2006) report indicates that in 2005/2006, the enrolment at the Junior Secondary Schools was 3,624,163 while the number of teachers was 61,938 out of whom 73.3% were qualified. Within the same year, the number of teachers at the Senior Secondary Schools was 74,841 out of whom 73% were qualified. Data in Table 3 also show the results of a nationwide analysis of qualified teachers in English Language and Mathematics in secondary schools in Nigeria in 2006.
Table 4: Analysis of Qualified Teachers in English Language and Mathematics in Secondary Schools in Nigeria as at 2006.
Q – Qualified
NQ– Not Qualified
Source: Ndefo, Alani & Fagbamiye (2006), in Okorodudu, R.I (2011): Innovations in Teaching and Learning Experiences. Educational Psychologist, 5(1): 2-12
As indicated in Table 4, there were 51.2% qualified as against 49.8% unqualified English Language teachers in secondary schools in Nigeria as at year 2006. The table further shows that there were 52.0 % qualified as against 48.0% unqualified Mathematics teachers in the schools.
State of Infrastructural facilities
It is not a gainsaying that a lot of infrastructure is needed for the provision of quality junior secondary education in schools. Such infrastructure includes bocks of classrooms, libraries, computer laboratory, workshop for basic technology and basic science laboratory among others. Even though there has been an improvement in the state f infrastructure in schools since the advent of UBE through the intervention of UBEC, ETF among others, and as even indicated in the Table 3, there is low correlation between the available classrooms and number of students in schools. Situation where classroom are limited relative to the available students, will not give room for quality education provision in schools.
Table 5: No. of Schools, Classrooms and Streams in Junior Secondary Education: 2008-2010
|Year||No. of Schools||No. of Classrooms||Streams|
Source: Universal Basic Education Commission (2010), in Federal Ministry of Education: State of Education in Nigeria beyond Access. Abuja, Nigeria: Federal Government Press
Quality of Outputs: Quality learners are intended and expected effects of the education system and include what children know and can do as well as the attitudes and expectations they have for themselves and societies (UBEC, 2012). At the end of the Junior Secondary Education: It is expected that:
- at least 50% of learners who enroll for Basic Education Certificate will achieve at least a credit pass in the core subjects which will enable them acquire knowledge and skills for higher level of education;
- all learners will be able to cultivate useful living within the society;
- all learners will develop talents and opportunities for future roles;
- all learners will be able to apply science, technology, and commerce in sub-professional trades;
- all learners would have had access to a range of vocational education opportunities;
- all learners would have acquired ICT skills; and
- all learners would have acquired diverse basic knowledge and skills for entrepreneurship and educational advancements (UBEC, 2012).
To what extent has these expectations been achieved in Junior Secondary Education provision in Nigeria. It is not a gainsaying that the achievement of the goals remains low in Nigeria. There is inability of the education that is offered to children at this level to impact meaningful skills thus making the completers to be mere certificate holders. These are indications that all is not well with the Junior Secondary Education in Nigeria.
Efficiency in production of outputs
Reports (Duze, 2011; Adeyemi & Adu, 2012; Ajayi & Mbah, 2008; Nakpodia, 2010) have indicated the extent of wastage in educational system of Nigeria. Of much concern is the prevalence of the menace in junior secondary classes in schools. Ordinarily, a child that enrolls for such education needs to spend three years without having any course to drop out of the system or repeat any class in view of the limited available resources. According to the report of finding of Adeyemi (2012) in a study on schools’ variables and internal efficiency of secondary schools in Ondo State, using 242 out of 295 secondary schools in the State and a cohort of 75,260 pupils of 2002 JSSI set, there were 2,800 repeaters and 2,180 drop outs out of the cohort in 2003 which decreased to 2,255 repeaters and 1,950 dropouts in 2004 (when the pupils were in JSS3). Situation where students repeats class, will make them takes up space, teaching time, textbooks, and other resources that could be devoted to other students. When many students repeat classes, some classes are abnormally large thus making teaching difficult for teachers.
It needs not be overstressed that all hands needs to be on deck, to achieve the functionality of Junior Secondary Education in Nigeria. Government, parents and guardians, schools’ administrators, and other stakeholders in education have roles to play to achieve this feat. Specifically:
Adequate funding of UBE: Money is widely regarded as the vehicle for evangelism. Adequate funding of Universal Basic Education is imperative if the goals are to be achieved. Government thus needs to allocate more funds to UBE which can guarantee increased allocation to Junior Secondary Education. With improved financial allocation, more infrastructure, facilities, and instructional materials can be procured for training of the students.
Increased orientation/sensitization of the people: Having been established that the access level to Junior Secondary Education is low which could be as result of inadequate advocacy, there is need for massive enlightenment and orientation of the public towards enrolling their children in secondary school after their primary education.
Recruitment, training and motivation of teachers: Government needs to recruit more teachers and post them to secondary schools, particularly the junior secondary classes in the schools. Government should also organize regular workshop, seminars for the teachers to improve their performance on the job. There is need for teachers in junior secondary classes to be adequately motivated to enhance their performance on the job. In this case, those that teach in the rural areas should be given extra allowance to reduce the rate of their drift to urban areas. Teachers should also be sponsored for seminars, conferences and workshops like the civil servants in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), so as to improve their productivity.
Commitment of teachers: nothing can be achieved if the teachers who are the central of teaching-learning process in schools are less committed to the job. Quality education can only be guaranteed through the commitment of the teachers. Teachers in junior secondary classes should thus teach effectively o as to improve the quality of their students.
Provision of Infrastructure and facilities for schools: Government should provide additional infrastructure and facilities for the secondary schools. It needs not be overstressed that acquiring prevocational skills in the junior secondar y schools depend on the availability of the required technical and vocational equipment for schools that are deficient in these. Private sector should however complement Government’s efforts in this regard.
Enforcement of policy on transition rate from JS3 to SS1: There should be strict compliance with the 70% policy stipulation with regards to the transition from JS3 to SS1. In this case, government should monitor the secondary schools’ administrators to ensure strict compliance with this policy and reprimand those that violates this. Government should also cancel ‘resit policy’ and enforce that only those that passed the JSCE at first attempt should be promoted.
Exposure of students to practical lessons: Apart from the theoretical lessons, students at JSE level should be taught practical in schools to develop the spirit of enquiry in them.
Curbing wastage in schools: In view of its effects, it is imperative for Government to curb wastage in schools. Parents/guardians should be given orientation in the print and electronic media on the need to enroll their children for Junior Secondary Education and to avoid their premature withdrawal from schools. In as much as poverty of parents/guardians is a major factor influencing wastage, government should award scholarships and bursaries to outstanding students, to alleviate the burden of their parents/guardians on the payment of fees and providing other needs. Government should introduce education loan without interest, for poor parents, to enable them pay the fees and procure needed materials for their children’s education.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
It is not a gainsaying that the implementation of Universal Basic Education programme has spanned over a decade in Nigeria while efforts are geared towards achieving its objectives holistically. The functionality of Junior Secondary Education which is an aspect of the programme, leaves much to be desired when indices such as the level of access to it, transition from JS3 to SS1, teacher’s issues, state of infrastructure, quality of its outputs are used as yardsticks. In this paper, these indices were examined within the framework of the mother UBE programme implementation. In order not to derail from the achievement of the objectives of UBE and waste the enormous financial, human and materials resources committed to it, there is need for improved functionality of Junior Secondary Education. it is however hopeful that if the above recommendations are adopted and effected, not only will the functionality of Junior Secondary Education achieved, the objectives of Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme will be a reality and not mirage.
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About the Author: IGE AKINDELE MATTHEW
Ige A.M is the Deputy Director, Ministry Of Education, Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria