An Assessment Of The Implementation Of Universal Basic (UBE) Education In Nigeria

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An Assessment Of The Implementation Of Universal Basic (UBE) Education In Nigeria

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

The current Universal Basic Education (UBE) scheme in Nigeria is a product of an earlier educational scheme, programme and educational decisions. It is an offshoot of previous schemes, which could be said to have been bedeviled by problems and which the present scheme is expected to correct.

Social Studies according to Dubey (1980) is the investigation of human activities; it studies man at home, at work, workshop, in politics, at play, in the village, in the nation, everywhere, engaged in his busy programme of living and it is particularly interested in man’s problems about which decision must be made. The content of social studies is drawn from sociology, economics, political science, anthropology, geography, history, psychology, social-psychology, literature, arts and music, religion, philosophy, achealogy, demography, linguistics, communication, science… most of which constitute the social sciences and the humanities (Mezieobi and Domike, 1996).

The other sources of social studies programme include resource persons and places, oral historiography, contemporary issues, mass media, etc.

In the light of the definitions and descriptions of social studies as stated above, one of the contemporary public issues that affect the Nigerian society today is the introduction and implementation of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme of which social studies is one the core subjects offered.

The 1950s laid the foundation stone for later educational developments in the 1960s and beyond. Educational efforts of the 1950s were themselves determined by the history of educational growth from the fourth decade of the 19th century. By implication therefore, explosion in education in the Western region had tremendous influence on other regions. It should be recalled that the 1950 Macpherson constitution created regional houses that were responsible to the central government in Lagos. The constitution also empowered the regional houses to make laws on education. The effect of this was that regions grew differently in educational provisions (Aluede, 1992), (Kosemani and Okorosaye-Oruibite, 1995).

In the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo had the opportunity of putting his own concept of education into practice. Thus, as the leader of the Action Group (AG), he placed priority on education by drawing up a comprehensive educational development plan for the whole of western region which Edo state was part of, and adhered strictly to this policy because he believed that to educate the children and enlighten the illiterate adults, is to lay a solid foundation not only for the future social and economic progress, but also, for the political stability of the region in particular and the country in general. He therefore, introduced free, universal and compulsory primary education (UPE) in 1955 which is synonymous with his name in Nigeria today (Taiwo, 1980).

The Eastern Regional House that introduced the UPE scheme under the leadership of Dr. Azikiwe in January 1957 followed the Western Region’s example. The Lagos area that was cut off from the educational programmes of the Western Region in 1954 when it was declared a Federal Territory, equally introduced the Universal Primary Education (UPE) scheme in January 1957.

It should, however, be noted that educational development in the Northern Region lagged behind in what was being experienced in Lagos and other regions, because, while the Western and the Eastern Regions were struggling hard to surpass each other in the south, the Northern Region did not come to terms with the challenges of the time.

However, the Federal Government of Nigeria became conscious of the dangers of disparity in educational development in a nation state and therefore introduced the UPE scheme throughout the federation in 1976. Thereafter, there was the regularization of primary education system throughout Nigeria. The differences that had existed in the different regions were checked by the Federal Government’s decision that all states of the federation must run similar programme (Itedjere, 1997).

The recent re-launching of a similar programme – the Universal Basic Education (UBE) scheme by the Federal Government of Nigeria on the 30th of September 1999 would suggest that after the failure of the earlier programme – UPE scheme, and a careful analysis of the factors that brought about the failure of the earlier scheme would have taken place.

The Universal Basic Education (UBE) is a programme designed to transmit a common cultural heritage. The training of children and adolescents in the norms, values and aspirations of the nation is a veritable instrument for national integration and development. It is expected that educational reforms or re-organization would be carried out to enable Nigeria’s education cater for the future professional needs (Ayeni, 2000).

In addition to playing the noble role of cultural transmission in the modern society today, the UBE programme is designed to provide universal literacy, numeracy and enlightenment. The desire to inculcate in children the skills of literacy, numeracy and the ability to communicate made the UBE programme worthwhile (Aboyi, 2004).

Apart from the above, there is the need to lay a solid foundation for scientific and reflective thinking, character and moral training and the development of sound attitude, and above all, develop in the child the ability to adapt to his changing environment (FGN, 1981).

The UBE programme, if faithfully implemented by governments, it will not only be a powerful instrument for achieving poverty alleviation, but also, a secured means of ensuring proper and adequate internalization of sound democratic culture. As a matter of fact, this type of political socialization is what we need in order to stabilize our polity, which will in turn guarantees economic growth and development (Osahon and Osahon, 2006).

Before the launch of the UBE scheme, the transition rate from primary school to junior secondary school was 43.7%. By implication, 56.3% of those in the nation’s primary school today are likely to grow into adulthood as illiterates and this would further compound the problems of an estimated 43% adults that have missed their opportunities of a formal education. It is for these categories of people that the Universal Basic Education (UBE) intends to provide a second chance UBE (2000). For Nigeria to attain the desired 100% national literacy rate soon, it is imperative that provisions should be made and actions taken to universalize basic education enthrone a conducive learning environment and improve quality and standards. The Universal Basic Education (UBE) scheme is designed to address these challenges.

It will be pertinent here to provide a highly succinct meaning of Universal Basic Education and what it constitutes. UBE is an educational reform programme of the Nigerian Government that provides free, compulsory, and continuous 9-year education at two levels: 6 years of primary and 3 years of junior secondary education for all school aged children. There are three components of the UBE programme and these are:

  • Early Childhood Care and Development Education (ECCDE)
  • 6 years primary Education
  • 3 years Junior Secondary School Education (JSS) (UBE, 2005).

The goals of the UBE scheme are to universalize access to basic education, engender a conducive learning environment and eradicate illiteracy in Nigeria within the shortest possible time. The specific objectives of the scheme are to:

  1. Develop in the entire citizenry a strong consciousness for education and a strong commitment to its vigorous promotion.
  2. Provide free and compulsory universal basic education for every Nigerian child of school-going age.
  3. Reduce drastically drop-out rate from the formal school system through improved relevance and efficiency.
  4. Cater for drop-outs and out-of-school children/adolescent through various forms of complementary approaches to the provision and promotion of basic education.
  5. Ensure the acquisition of the appropriate levels of literacy, numeracy, manipulative and life skills (as well as the ethical, moral and civic values) needed for laying the foundation for life long learning.

Here in Edo state, the enabling law for the implementation of compulsory, free universal Basic Education was formally signed into law on the 10th of June 2005 by chief Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion, the former Governor of Edo State. Edo State Universal Basic Education law (2005).

Under the existing 6-year secondary school arrangement, Junior Secondary School (JSS) is separated from the Senior Secondary School (SSS) and this is referred to as disarticulation. UBE(2005).In other words, the two levels should be run by two separate administrations and eventually have separate locations and infrastructures. The existing 6-year secondary education is in contradiction with the existing policy of 6-3-3-4 and is to be discontinued.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The Universal Primary Education (UPE), which resulted in increased access to basic education between 1960s and 1970s later, suffered huge setback due to lack of proper planning and implementation and the desired political will on the part of the leadership. The U.P.E. scheme failed because the Federal Government of Nigeria underestimated the number of pupils that would benefit from such a programme and could not also determine the number of teachers, school facilities and the amount of money that would be required for training and retraining in order to make the programme functional (Ayeni, 2000).

Before the launching of UBE in 1999, primary school enrolment (education statistics) for 1996 showed that only 14.1 million pupils were registered out of 21 million children of school going age, 14.8 million in 1997 and 15.5 million in 1998 (FME, 2000). What happened therefore to 6.9 million children that were not registered and were not in school? Will they not further compound the illiteracy situation in the country and in addition Nigeria has been facing the problem of recording low National literacy rate of 52%. An adjunct to this is the problem of teacher-pupil ratio which was put at 1:76. This is far from the World Bank ideal ratio of 1:25 (World Bank, 1998).

Closely related to the problems highlighted above is that of low levels of achievement in literacy, numeracy and life skills among pupils. A Federal Government/UNICEF and UNESCO sponsored study (FGN/UNICEF/UNESCO, 1997), which assessed the level of competence of primary four pupils in the three skills revealed very low levels of achievement. The national mean scores for numeracy, literacy and life-skills were 32.2%, 25.2% and 36.86% respectively (UBE, 2005). In the light of the foregoing, the question therefore, is how effective is the implementation of the Universal Basic Education in order to avoid the pitfalls of the past and to ensure that the goals and objectives of the programme are achieved?

1.3 Research Questions

The study sought to provide answers to the following research questions:

  1. Is there any significant difference in pupil’s enrolment in the pre and post UBE declaration periods in Edo State?
  2. Is there any significant difference in the availability of facilities in schools in Edo State in the pre and post UBE declaration periods?
  3. Is there any significant difference in the distribution of facilities across geographical locations (ie urban and rural) in Edo State in pre and post UBE periods?
  4. To what extent are teachers available in schools in Edo State in the pre and post UBE periods?
  5. To what extent are teachers participating in in-service training programme in Edo State in the pre and post UBE declaration periods?
  6. To what extent were the activities of Public primary schools monitored and evaluated in Edo State in the pre and post UBE periods?

1.4 Hypotheses

The following null hypothesis will be tested in the study:

  1. There is no significant difference in pupil’s enrollment in the pre and post UBE declaration period in Edo state.
  2. There is no significant difference in the availability of facilities in schools in Edo state in the pre and post, UBE declaration periods.
  3. There is no significant difference in the distribution of facilities across geographical locations (ie urban and rural) in Edo State in pre and post UBE periods.
  4. There is no significant different in the availability of teachers in schools in Edo State in the pre and post UBE periods.
  5. There is no significant difference in teachers’ participation in in-service training programme in Edo State in pre and post UBE declaration periods.
  6. There is no significant difference in the monitoring and evaluation of public primary schools in Edo State in the pre and post UBE periods.

1.5 Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to evaluate the implementation of the Universal Basic Education in Edo State with a view to identifying the possible factors that can hinder the realization of the aims and objectives of Universal Basic Education programmes and possibly proffer solutions to these identified problems.

The study will specifically ascertain the extent to which:

  1. Pupils’ enrolment in pre and post UBE declaration periods differs in Edo State.
  2. The availability of facilities in pre and post UBE periods differs in Edo State.
  3. Teacher’s availability in pre and post UBE periods differs in Edo State.
  4. Teachers’ participation in in-service training programmes in pre and post UBE declaration periods differs in Edo State.
  5. The monitoring and evaluation of the activities of public primary schools in pre and post UBE periods differ in Edo State.

1.6 Scope and Delimitation of the Study

The study focused on the implementation of the primary school level of the Universal Basic Education programme in Edo State. Variables of interest in the study are pupils related, teacher-related and school-related. The results and conclusion drawn from the study shall therefore be limited to the level of basic education in the State.

1.7 Significance of the Study

This study will enable policy makers and programme managers to have a feedback on the programme to enable them strengthen, redesign, refine, continue or improve it as the case may be. It will also enable programme consumers know the extent to which the programme objectives are realized and the need for continued participation. Furthermore, the study will act as a reference point to donor agencies on the direction and application of resources and the need to sustain and even improve on their sponsorship.

The researcher is however aware that the UBE headquarters has been carrying out periodic monitoring and evaluation of the programme directly and through other agencies.

1.8 Limitations of the Study

One of the major limitations of this study is the dearth of data relating to school enrolment in both the State Ministry of Education and the State Universal Basic Education board. Most of the records are usually not properly and effectively kept.

Also, there was high degree of reluctance to release most official records even when and where they existed. Addition, records related to finances were usually made unobtrusive.

Head teachers and teachers uncooperative attitude was also a source of limitation to this study. Most of them pretended to be busy to respond to the instruments given to them, hence failed to return them inspite of series of visits by the researcher.

1.9 Operational Definition of Terms

Educational Programme:

This is a curricular package made up of content, facilities, methodology for delivery and strategies for evaluation. Its aim is to assist the citizens/client/recipients acquire attitudes, knowledge and skills for harnessing human and material resources in order to improve their living standards and that of their environment.

UBE-based in-service training:

This includes teacher professional support programme e.g. workshops, seminars, conferences and symposia on UBE and related issues which will ensure the availability of capable human resources to manage the scheme.

Policy Implementation:

This is the conversion or transformation of general policies to concrete public policies. It includes those actions that are geared towards the achievement of the objectives of the policy. In this study, it has to do with all the actions that are directed at ensuring the success of the UBE.

Basic Education:

This is a process whose major goal is to lay a solid foundation for life – long learning. It encompasses and expanded view of education and integrates informal, non-formal and formal education. In this study, it is restricted to education at the primary school level.


It is a systematic and objective process of examining a design completed or on-going project or programme with the aim of determining its efficiency, effectiveness, impact, sustainability and the relevance of the objectives in this case, basic education.

Life Skills:

These are skills needed by an individual to be able to operate effectively in society in an active and constructive manner. They cover livelihood or vocational skills, public health related skills, physical skills or skills related to behaviour and social interaction

Geographical Location:

This is the division of the state into two broad area – urban and rural


For the purpose of this study, urban here refers to Benin City, and the Local Government Head quarters.


This refers to places outside the State capital and Local Government Headquarters.

Pre-UBE Declaration Period:

This is the period before the declaration of UBE for the purpose of this study; it is taken as 2000/01 to 2004/2005 academic sessions.

Post UBE Declaration Period:

This is the period from the start of the UBE to present day, in this study; it is the period from 2005/2006 to 2009/2010 academic session.

An Assessment Of The Implementation Of Universal Basic (UBE) Education In Nigeria

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