Childcare and the education system in Nigeria

Childcare and early education in Nigeria
Updated 2017-09-15 15:10

The family being a central institution and the cornerstone of the society in Nigeria, you should find the country quite welcoming if you move to Nigeria with children. Yet finding quality education services can be a bit of a challenge.

Educational system of Nigeria

Modern education in Nigeria dates back to the schools provided by Christian missionaries, or by their Islamic counterparts in the north. Today, most educational institutions are managed by the federal and state governments, although some private confessional schools still exist.

Children from the age of six are subject to six years of compulsory primary education, free in government school, followed by another six years of optional secondary education, before moving on to post-secondary or tertiary education in one of Nigeria's colleges or technical institutes.

In general, public schools in Nigeria tend to be understaffed and under-equipped, with sometimes outdated learning and entertainment facilities; as a result most expats in Nigeria send their little ones to one of the surprisingly numerous private international schools scattered across Nigeria's big cities.

International schools in Nigeria generally provide high quality education thanks to skilled, dedicated teachers and modern, functional facilities, and curricula derived from the ones prevailing in American or European schools, as well as extra-curricular courses and activities. Most of them lead to an international baccalaureate recognised abroad.

Admission conditions can be quite stringent for children and parents alike, with the former often having to pass an entrance exam or an interview, and the latter's career being scrutinised.

These international schools also are quite costly, as exorbitant tuition fees (as much as NGN 5m a year) are compounded by additional expenses for transport, uniforms, books and other study material.

Accordingly, you should make sure to mention the fact that you are moving to the country with children to your Nigerian employer, and to try to negotiate related benefits. Some companies will even help you with the procedure, or provide slots in quality schools for their employees' children.

Good to know:

Nigeria's academic calendar starts in January and runs through to December, with classes from 8am to 3pm approximately. Teaching at public schools is provided in English.


While the offer of high-standard private education is plentiful in urban centres, it proves much scarcer in inland rural zones; if you are living out of the cities, you might want to consider homeschooling.

Pre-school in Nigeria

The ratio of children enlisted in pre-primary care and education centres remains quite low in Nigeria, at about 20% of the population in the target age group; among the reasons for this low penetration rate is the lack of availability of public services.

Public early childcare institutions also suffer from serious quality challenges, with unqualified caregivers - 85% of them lack elementary qualifications -, dilapidated infrastructure and poor quality learning resources.

The government has been working to improve both early childhood education enrolment numbers and quality of care in a set of separate initiatives over the past few years: a new policy has been requiring that every public school should provide pre-primary care or linkage to a pre-primary school, and the government has been including modules geared towards early childhood education and care into the national teacher training programs.

Still, a majority of expats prefer to hire one of the qualified, private caregivers and nannies that can always be found in the country, and in cities particularly, but quality comes at a price. Here again, most employers can provide dedicated financial help, if not company childcare services.

Family activities in Nigeria

You can find safe playgrounds along with great, state-of-the art extra-curricular education centres in major urban centres.

Besides, the country's natural wealth is particularly fitting for kid-friendly tours and activities. Nigeria's great exotic wildlife, in particular, is relished by the little ones. Expats can enjoy the national parks, such as Yankari, which is home to herds of elephants and 400 other species of exotic animals.

Useful link:

Top 10 International Schools in Nigeria

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