I woke up bright and early (more pitch black and early) this past Monday morning to go to my mom’s school. She is a teacher of English and Yorùbá languages. She works at a public school in a neighborhood called Mokola, here in Ibadan. I made a video so you can get an idea of what the school is like (see below). I thought this would also be a good opportunity to describe how the education system here works. Nigerian kids grow up going to a primary school (like our elementary school), followed by a secondary school/grammer school (similary to our middle and high schools). Secondary school, also referred to as grammar school is broken up into to segments, each lasting three years-junior secondary school (JSS) and senior secondary school (SSS). After successful completion of senior secondary school, students are required to undergo extensive testing called “WAEC,” which stands for the West African Examination Council. This group provides a standard and administers testing for much of West Africa. Upon successful completion of the WAEC exams, students can then apply for a university, polytechnic university, begin an apprenticeship, or begin work elsewhere. The school campus my mom works on (see video below) houses both primary and secondary schools.
The Nigerian education system closely resembles that of the British. Although not as common nowadays, teachers still use physical force against children in primary school. Perhaps this explains why the kids that I have met here have been so seemly patient, well behaved, and mature for their ages. Another notable difference from the American educational system is specialization. In Nigeria, students usually complete their senior secondary school around age 16. From here, if they choose to go to a university, they must choose an area of specialization immediately. In American universities, there is a noticeable emphasis on liberal arts, or breadth of education. This concept is foreign in Nigeria. If you choose one discipline when you enter the university and decide to switch to another after two years (quite common in America), you must start over fresh at the 100 level. In general, Nigerian public schools are much more formal than those in America. Most public schools have mandatory uniforms. At the university level, people dress much nicer on a daily basis than in America. You certainly don’t see sweat pant and hoodie-wearing hungover and unkempt college students slumping to 8:50am classes. People dress much more formal and in general behave much more formally. There are also noticeable differences with grading, especially at the university level. The Oxford style of lecturing that is coveted here throws a large amount of information at students in a passive-learning style (i.e. no discussion). This results in overall “lower scores” than American students are used to. For example, a 70% in a class at a Nigerian university is approaching a validictorian state. In an American university, a 70% in a class can give the illusion that you spent way more time at the bars than at the library last semester. The academic calendar in Nigeria is year round. There are several block breaks lasting usually about three weeks, but there is no such thing as summer vacation (or summer at all for that matter). There are only two seasons here-the rainy season, and the dry season. I hope you enjoy the video.