1.1 Background of the Study
The universal declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1948 guaranteed for the individual a whole range of basic freedom with education serving as a basic right necessary for the achievement of all other freedoms. The achievement of the right to education requires that young people be given the opportunity necessary for the acquisition of the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values which will enable them lead happy and productive lives as individuals and discharge their social duties for the betterment of life in the society.
Nigeria, having realized the effectiveness of education as a powerful instrument for national progress and development, adjusted her educational philosophy and methodology to march the ideals and challenges of changing economic and social structure of modern society (National Policy on Education 1981, revised 2004). Consequently, in 1982, Nigeria adjusted her secondary educational system to encompass diversified curriculum that integrates academic with technical and vocational subject intended to empower the individual for self-employment (Igwe 2000). According to the National Policy on Education 1981; 2004, the broad aims and objectives of secondary education in Nigerian educational system are preparation for useful living within the society (self-employment) and preparation for higher education. (The area that concerns this study is the first objective – preparation for self-employment).
However, more than two and half decades after adoption of the laudable initiative, majority of Nigerian youth are idle and some are involved in various vices due to unemployment. They do not have the required skills to either fit into many types of jobs that are available or create jobs (Igwe 2007). It is no longer news that the nation’s youth unemployment rate has been shooting up the sky. The federal government recently acknowledged that about 80 per cent of Nigeria’s youth are unemployed and 10 per cent underemployed. And the Minister of Education, Sam Egwu, recently noted that the poor quality of graduates is worrisome. The major policy speeches of President Yar’Ardua these days revolve around his aspiration of transforming Nigeria into one of the first 20 largest global economies by the year 2020. This vision cannot be achieved without youth empowerment for job creation and wealth generation. Adekoya (1999) claimed that for the Nigerian youth to be empowered economically they should be given the necessary skill acquisition and for this to be done the curriculum should be effectively implemented. Oli (2000) believed that to ensure a positive future for Nigeria, the youth who are believed to be the future leaders of the country ought to be well equipped with basic skills to drive the economy.
Curriculum is a vehicle through which education is attained (Offorma 2005). The secondary school curriculum as presently implemented is far from achieving the goals of secondary educational system (Obanya 2004a). Several authors have noted that the National Policy on Education was well structured and the contents were adequately defined but the implementation calls for question (Babafemi 2007; Dike 2009). Investigation gathered shows that students’ potentials are not properly channeled as schools lack basic infrastructural facilities necessary for effective curriculum implementation, there are inadequate specialist teachers, and where available, focus more on theoretical aspect leaving out the practical component.
This situation calls for a critical appraisal of the mode of implementation of Nigerian secondary school curriculum in order to identify the root cause of the problem as well as gaps needed for reformation. This study is timely and useful in providing the much needed empirical data that will assist the Federal Government of Nigeria through its curriculum development agency, Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), to gauge the level of success of current implementation and be better able to plan towards an implementation that will instill basic skills in Nigerian youth to ensure their socio-economic empowerment.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
A good number of students who have completed their secondary education but do not wish to continue with higher education are in dilemma. This is because they are not well equipped with necessary skills to empower themselves. The training acquired at the end of secondary education seems inadequate to make the school leavers competent and self-reliant, hence cannot contribute to nation building. If the Nigerian society is not to be plagued by a breed of unemployable youth who cannot raise the economic productivity of the country, it is desirable that a lasting solution be provided. Thus, this study was designed to fill this gap.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The overall aim of the investigation was to assess how the curriculum was implemented in Nigerian secondary schools with a view to identifying the root cause of the problem as well as the underlying factors that might account for disparity, if any, on curriculum implementation. Specifically, the objectives were to:
1. determine the appropriateness of the Nigeria secondary education curriculum in terms of the goals, content, method, in meeting the philosophy of Nigeria secondary educational
2. find out type of teaching method used in implementing the curriculum in Nigerian secondary schools.
3. determine number of skill-based subjects taught in Nigerian secondary schools.
4. assess infrastructural facilities available in Nigerian secondary schools.
5. assess availability of specialist teachers in Nigerian secondary schools.
6. identify practical (entrepreneurial) skills students have learnt in school with which they can create self-employment.
7. identify students’ entrepreneurial capability i.e. products and services students have successfully produced/ marketed
8. determine the effect of school location on the mode of curriculum implementation.
9. find out if school type has effect on the mode of curriculum implementation.
1.4 Significance of the Study
This study is significant in many ways. Most importantly, it will sensitize policy makers, educational administrators, and curriculum planners on the need to plan towards effective curriculum implementation in Nigerian secondary schools. This will go a long way in minimizing the rate of unemployment among secondary school leavers thereby making them well adjusted individuals who will raise the economic productivity of the country. Also, the result of the study will contribute to policy formulation and practices, as inspectors from Federal and State Ministries of Education will be sensitized on what to look out for during inspection. On a wider scale, African countries will benefit from the study because its findings and recommendations will provide point of reference. Above all, the Federal and state Ministries of Education as well as the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) will find the result of this study valuable particularly in the current government effort towards implementation of the new 9-year Basic Education Curriculum.
1.5 Research Questions
1. How appropriate is the present Nigeria secondary education curriculum in terms of the goals, content, method, in meeting the philosophy of Nigerian secondary education system?
2. What type of teaching method is used in implementing the curriculum in Nigerian secondary schools?
3. How many skill-based subjects are taught in Nigerian secondary schools?
4. What are the infrastructural facilities available in Nigerian secondary schools?
5. What is the proportion of specialist teachers available in Nigerian secondary schools?
6. What practical (entrepreneurial) skills have students learnt in school with which they can create self-employment?
7. What products and services have students produced /marketed on their own?
8. What is the effect of school location on the mode of curriculum implementation?
9. What is the effect of school type on the mode of curriculum implementation?
1.6 Scope of the Study
Nigeria is a large country with a lot of geographical differences. There are six geopolitical zones in Nigeria each constituting several states. To ensure national coverage, three out of the six geopolitical zones were purposely selected for the study, namely; North Central, South East and South West. One state was randomly selected from each zone. A total of twelve secondary schools comprising both public and private were drawn across the three states /zones. This was considered adequate and sufficiently representative to make tentative generalization.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms and Variables
Critical: In this study, it means to point out fault constructively.
Appraisal: Hornby (2000) refers to it as assessment of the value or quality of something. In this study, it refers to assessment of how the Nigerian secondary school curriculum is implemented.
Mode: Hornby (2000) refers to it as ‘way and manner in which something is done’. In this study, Hornby’s definition is adopted. i.e. way and manner Nigerian secondary school curriculum is implemented.
Implementation: Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary refers to it as putting into effect a plan already mapped out. Obanya (2004) defined implementation of curriculum as day-to-day activities which school management and classroom teachers undertake in the pursuit of the objective of any given curriculum. In this study, it means processes involved in translating educational plan into action to bring about change in the learner as they acquire the planned experiences, skills, and knowledge that are aimed at enabling the learner function effectively in the society. In this regard, implementation is seen as both the means and the means to an end.
Curriculum: According to Obanya (2004a), curriculum is the total package of what is to be taught or learnt.