The Nigerian National Curriculum

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The Nigerian-National-Curriculum in one sentence

This article with keyword: Nigerian-National-Curriculum authoritatively defines what the (national) curriculum is. It enumerates the components of curriculum and discusses the types of curriculum in Nigerian schools and provide leading guides on how to choose the right curriculum for your school.

Introduction to Nigerian-National-Curriculum

The surge in the availability of information resources among Nigerian academicians tends to spurn increasing confusion – in the meaning of key terms used to describe key statutory school records viz. curriculum, syllabus, scheme of work and lesson plan.

I receive requests for, and send a lot of these materials monthly. And an experience that has become somewhat too frequent is people requesting for one while they actually meant another. Each time, I have to first explain and differentiate between the confusing terms. Thereafter, I will ask, just to be sure, what they really wanted before sending.

Where Lack is Failure

For a profession such as being an educator, the inability to state the meaning and differentiate between these terms without mincing words shows a major failure. For one that it shows the teacher is not prepared/qualified to take up highly roles in the system. Lately, we have seen educators being appointed into education ministries/commissions and agencies. An instance is the appointment of Mrs. Folasade Adefiyaso as the honourable commissioner of education, Lagos state ministry of education. Hers is only but one of many of such appointments. Educators form members and head of the education ministries, commissions, agencies and committees anyways. But if an educator is unable to say the meanings and differences between curriculum, syllabus and scheme of work with certainty; how then will such an educator be able to dispense the duties of higher roles – which sometimes involves formulating and supervising the implementation of trio?

This post with keywords – Nigerian-National-Curriculum

This a comprehensive post. I hope to address all possible issues concerning the national curriculum as it is currently subsisting among the Nigerian education community. However, in order not to make this a tedious reading for the reader; I have shared the entire post in three. This is the first part.

In the second part, I shall discuss all the past and existing editions of the Nigerian National curriculum. This will enable you to have a fuller understanding of the subject matter. It will also help you to authenticate any curriculum that people may try to sell to you – so that you don’t fall prey to fake “official” materials.

In the last part, I distinguish between curriculum, syllabus, course of study, scheme of work, Unit of Work plan and lesson plan. This last part addresses the major confusion issues between the terms.

Causes of the confusion in the meaning of curriculum, syllabus and scheme of work

For the much I know, there are two major causes of the confusion of the meaning pf curriculum, syllabus and scheme of work.

1.      Dictionary Definitions

The first, especially between curriculum and syllabus, is dictionaries. Looking up, the meaning of both curriculum and syllabus in the dictionary are somehow similar.

Nonetheless, it is a well-known fact that dictionaries only give general and contemporary meanings of terms. And in most professional studies, dictionary definitions are too narrow to be accepted.

Hence we can infer that those that tends to confuse the meaning of curriculum and syllabus may have overly relied on the dictionary definitions.

2.      Regional Relativeness of the meanings of the terms

Another major reason for the confusion of the meaning of the curriculum and syllabus is because the meanings of the terms are relative to the region of the world – with marked difference between American and British. (Musingafi, Mhute, & Kaseke, 2015) proved that classical American understanding of curriculum makes no clear distinction between curriculum and syllabus. Whereas, there is a clear difference between curriculum and syllabus in British system.

Hence, we can deduce that, just like in other terms, this disparity between American and British system is the cause of the confusion in Nigeria.

But which is applicable in Nigeria? Does adopting one and not another equates to wrong?

Well, unlike the English Language itself; which permits a Nigerian to choose and stick to whichever – of American and British – that suites him or her; the question of the meaning of curriculum, syllabus and scheme of work is different. So, adopting any, other than that which is accepted constitute a major wrong.

Meaning of Curriculum in Nigeria

As I stated earlier, dictionaries have not helped in clarifying the differences between curriculum and syllabus. And to make the matter worse, some even confuse both with scheme of work.

Dictionaries only give the meanings of words as people imply at the current time. This is one of the reasons we have different versions of a dictionary. More so, it accounts for why a word may have more than one meanings.

(Musingafi, Mhute, & Kaseke, 2015) proved that Americans may use curriculum and syllabus interchangeably. Perhaps, it is because American English is more or less loose than British English. For, as the same writers proved, the Brits use both words strictly – hence, if they say curriculum; they do not mean syllabus and vice versa.

Nigeria’s Lingua Franca

Although the spoken English is relatively diverse; when it comes to choosing between American and British English on official matters; (Stephens, 2019) noted that  the officially allowed language in Nigeria is the British English.

Consequently, the British meaning of curriculum and syllabus supersedes the American meaning. Be that as it may, one cannot but assume that even if American educationists want to discuss both terms at professional level; A chance is that they use British definitions to differentiate between curriculum and syllabus.

Definition of Curriculum

Although most teachers see curriculum narrowly as simply yet another book that schools need to use; professionally curriculum is broader than that. And in fact, to fully grasp the meaning of curriculum, one need to understand the educational objectives of the country. This is because curriculum, in the broadest sense, is the official documentation and the means – roadmap – to attaining such ends – objectives of education in a country

Hence, we can define curriculum as follows:

Curriculum is a plan, a statement of purpose with a specification of content and methods; of a structured series of learning experience inbuilt with the capacity for evaluation drawn based on certain rules by members of a society through which schools make the learners in the society become what society expects them to become.

Curriculum as a plan or statement of purpose

A plan means premeditated course of future action to attain a set goal. This means curriculum is not accidental. Instead, curriculum is a deliberately well-arranged piece (s) of work which need to be done to attain certain purpose – statement of purpose.

I stated earlier that to fully understand what a curriculum means, one need to understand the purpose of education – or at least, school which uses it. I will discuss this briefly from the Nigerian perspectives.

Nigeria as a country see education not only as a key component of its economy but also as the very foundation. Nigeria’s founding fathers did not only fight for the independence of the nation; but also visualize the kind of country Nigeria will be. Consequently, shortly after independence in 1962; the Nigerian government launched the first National Development Plan.

What is a National Development Plan?

A National Development Plan (NDP) is an arrangement of actions, projects or strategies to be implemented on a long-term basis by the government of a country (and its various sectors/ministries) emanating from the identification of the current and foreseeable need of the country and a congruent definition of a desired destiny.

The First National Development Plan

The first National Development Plan was largely influenced by the British. This is so even though a Nigerian nationalist, Alhaji Shehu Shagari – the then Minister of Economic Development – prepared it. Shagari prepared it in collaboration with experts from the United Nations and the Ford Foundation. In addition to this, the preamble for the first development plan in Nigeria was formulated in 1945 – in accordance with Britain’s 1940 Colonial Development and Welfare Act.

Consequently, it is safe to say that the first National Development Plan was not totally a Nigerian initiative. In fact, some Unfortunately, the Nigerian civil war truncated the first National Development Plan.

The Truly Nigerian National Development Plan

After the Nigerian Civil war ended in 1970, the federal government of Nigeria embarked – or targeted – on serious national reconstruction and rehabilitation exercises. In addition to this, the country desired total emancipation from colonialism – especially in the education sector. Two remarkable events that initialized the reconstruction, rehabilitation and emancipation process were the national conference on economic development and reconstruction and the national curriculum conference.

The National Conference on Economic Development and Reconstruction (NCEDR) and the National Curriculum Conference (NCC)

While the National Conference on Economic Development and Reconstruction focused on the national reconstruction and rehabilitation exercises; the national curriculum conference focused on the national educational emancipation from colonialism – decolonization by identifying the educational needs of the country and the role of education in attaining the national objectives.

Consequently, while the National Conference on Economic Development and Reconstruction (NCEDR) with the subsequent Second National Development Plan laid the foundation for the kind of country we desire – by setting the national objectives; the national curriculum conference (NCC) also with the subsequent national Policy on Education laid foundation for the kind of education that the nation needs – by defining the structure/system of education, setting national educational aims and objectives and specifying the content and methods of a structured series of learning experience for attaining the aims and objectives.

These two major conferences – NCEDR and NCC – with their correspondingly resulting documents (so to say) – SNDP and NPE respectively – did not only become and still remains the nation’s reference point but also the standard by which improvements are made and evaluated. For example, all activities in the nation’s education sector is referenced and evaluated with respect to the National Policy on Education (NPE). Similarly, all government’s economic and development policies is made towards attaining the five objectives of the country as stated in the Second Development Plan (SDP).

Reason for Acceptance the NCEDR/SNDP and NCC/NPE

Perhaps, this is so because both conferences were born of the Nigerian dream – devoid (to a great extent) of imperialist’s ideologies. Many Nigerians from all walks of life attended the conferences. The SND and the NPE are more or less a documentation of Nigerians saying “This is what we want, this is what will be good for us, and this is what we are going to do”.

The National Objectives of Nigeria

The Second National Development Plan stated that the five national objectives of Nigeria as a nation are:

  • a free and democratic society;
  • a just and egalitarian society;
  • a united, strong and self-reliant nation;
  • a great and dynamic economy;
  • a land of bright and full opportunities for all citizens.

The National Educational Objectives of Nigeria

Similarly, the National Policy on Education more or less stated that the role education has to play in attaining the national objectives above are:

  • the inculcation of national consciousness and national unity;
  • the inculcation of the right type of values and attitudes for the survival of the individual and the Nigerian society;
  • the training of the mind in the understanding of the world around;
  • the acquisition of appropriate skills, abilities and competences both mental and physical as equipment for the individual to live in and contributed to its society.

These four national educational objectives complimented the nine key areas of nation’s education earlier stated by the national curriculum conference – including the national philosophy of education and the objectives of the then three levels of education among others.

The Link Between Curriculum and the National (Educational) Objectives

From my explanations above, you can now understand better when I defined curriculum as a statement of purpose – or a roadmap to an end.

In European countries such as the UK and Australia, it is called the national curriculum framework. A major definition of national curriculum framework is that it states what is expected to be achieved at the end of a given period of implementation. This is what I refer to as statement of purpose – what the society wants or needs.

In the next section, I will discuss curriculum as a specification of content, method and learning experience.

Curriculum as specification of Content, Method and Learning Experience

The second part of the definition I gave is that curriculum is a specification of content and method of structured learning experience inbuilt with the capacity for evaluation.

What I meant by this is that curriculum is not only a statement of purpose or expectation. It does not only say “what we want to achieve”. It also covers “what do we teach” to enable us get “what we want to achieve” – that is the content.

Educationists mostly and preferably refer to curriculum content as learning experience. This is because learning experience is a more encompassing term.

Learning Experience

Learning Experience means all the things that learners learn whether at school, home or anywhere together with all the activities they engage from which they learn during a particular period/level of education. This by general implication means all that one does as a learner.  In essence, curriculum is a specification of what a learner has to (be taught) learn and recommended activities that will help the him/her learn.

But as I stated in the definition, curriculum does not contain random list of content and activities; but structured learning activities. Structured means the learning experience has been arranged in a particular order and according to certain rules – curriculum development theories.

Specification of Methods

In addition to specifying the learning experience, curriculum also contain recommended method of delivering the structured learning experience in ways as will lead to the attainment of the objectives it targets. Educationists call this teaching method or method of teaching. Very commonly too, curriculum does not just state the method of teaching but also the teachers’ activities.

Capacity for Evaluation

The last aspect of the definition of curriculum is that the statement of purpose, learning experience and method of teaching is inbuilt with capacity for evaluation. This means curriculum also specifies how to measure whether the objectives of the learning experience has been met.

With this forgoing explanations, I am convinced you now understand vividly the meaning of curriculum.

Components of Curriculum

Let me now end with the components of curriculum – a more or less summary of the definition of curriculum.

From the discussions above, we can deduce that there are five major components of any curriculum. These include:

  1. Learning objectives (Statement of purpose)
  2. Learning Experience – what to teach, learners’ & teachers’ activities
  3. Method of teaching
  4. Evaluation Guide

Types of Curriculum

Although, educationists in the field of curriculum development classify curriculum in the broadest sense into formal and informal; curriculum in a regular school setting is divided based on source and based on level.

Types of curriculum based on Levels

If one uses the term curriculum to mean national curriculum framework, then there is only one level of curriculum in Nigeria – the federal level. This curriculum is the national curriculum.

Nonetheless, the national curriculum is split into simpler units. These units are the kinds of curriculum based on levels.

The curricular based on levels of education are:
  1. The Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE) Curriculum
  2. The primary school curriculum
  3. The Secondary School Curriculum
  4. The NBTE curriculum (for Monotechnics and Polytechnics offering National and Higher National Diplomas)
  5. The NUC curriculum – for degree awarding tertiary institutions
  6. NCE curriculum
Subject-based National Curricular

Apart from these curricular for the different levels of education, the national curricular may also be broken down into subject-based. This is the publication standard of the NERDC 9-Years BEC curriculum for secondary schools. Examples of curricular in this category include:

  1. 9-Year Basic Education Curriculum (Basic Technology for JSS 1 – 3)
  2. 9-Year Basic Education Curriculum (Mathematics for JSS 1 – 3)
  3. 9-Year Basic Education Curriculum (Mathematics for SSS 1 – SSS 3)
  4. Phonics curriculum
  5. Diction curriculum

Types of curriculum based on Source

Nigeria has dedicated agencies for development curriculum for the different levels of education in the country. Since 1988, the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) develops the national curriculum for Nigerian schools.

Apart from the division of the national curriculum into levels as I have just discussed above, educators sometimes name curriculum that are available in schools based on sources – that is the developers of the curriculum.

In this regard, you should first understand, a curriculum is not necessarily national in nature. For example, drawing from the national curriculum; schools may create their own curriculum. For example, although there is the unified curriculum for Nigerian universities; most universities customize the curriculum to their needs. Hence, it is possible to see one or two discrepancies between BSc Computer Science curriculum at ABU and the same BSc Computer Science curriculum at DELSU. Nonetheless, the underlying national goal for the programme is preserved in both and core courses remain the same. In this case, one may refer to both curriculum as ABU BSc Computer Science curriculum and DELSU BSc Computer Science curriculum to show the disparity and origin.

Similarly, at the Pre-primary, Primary and Secondary level; schools which have the capacity can create their custom curriculum. In that sense, we may see Queen Science curriculum, Kings College Curriculum, etc. This is however, common among few “top-class” schools.

A more common and prevailing experience in Nigerian schools nowadays to acquiring international curricular. Hence, it is common to hear and see British curriculum, American curriculum, Australian curriculum well as any other countries curriculum in Nigerian schools. These type of curricular are named with respect to their origin. Hence, British curriculum means curriculum of the UK origin; American curriculum is the curriculum that comes from the US and so on.

Type of educational philosophy curriculum

The last kind of curriculum that is common among Nigerian schools is curriculum based on particular educational philosophy. The most common of this class is the Montessori curriculum that is has been making waves in the industry.

Which curriculum should you use?

If you have read this article from the beginning up to this point, then the answer to this question should not be farfetched to you. Curriculum is not a textbook that we can buy whichever one appeals to us.

More so, if you are familiar with curriculum development processes with its guiding principles and theories; you will also understand that it should not be globalized either – although we could and do have global educational standards and objectives/aspirations. This is for one because it is a document that uniquely identifies the educational needs of a locality and tries to proffer solution to it.

How to choose the right curriculum?

In essence, before choosing a curriculum, what and whose educational needs does the curriculum address? In answering this question, you should not that a good curriculum is seldom the product of one man or some unrecognized groups. The process of developing a wholesome curriculum involves the service experts cutting across fields. Hence, that it is written in the curriculum that it addresses a particular educational need for a particular set of people does not automatically make it really so.

Another important question to ask in choosing a curriculum for you school is whether you are within the brackets of the curriculum. After sincerely answering the first question above, are you among those whom the curriculum targets? Does the curriculum meet your educational needs?

The last factor to consider in choosing the right curriculum for you school is the question of implementation. I noted earlier that some key components of curriculum are method of teaching, learners’ activities and teachers’ activities. Do you have what it takes to implement the curriculum? Are the teaching methods accessible to your teachers? How about the teachers’ and learners’ activities, can you afford the instructional materials for the activities?

Common Misunderstanding

It became necessary for me to include the section above because of the increasing of number of British, Montessori and American curriculum-based schools in Nigeria. This trend was initiated by school owners who formally taught in international schools. They probably loved the way the international schools were structured. Therefore, they think they should implement the same in their schools even though they aren’t yet an international school.

Unfortunately, many ‘not too informed’ Nigerian parents believe the practise is a sign of higher standard; and thus patronize the British and American curriculum-based Nigerian schools.

This is wrong. And it is high time we educated ourselves. Foreign curriculum addresses foreign educational needs. Majority of the learners in international primary and secondary schools graduates to continue their next level of education abroad. They take international entry level examinations. And they have reasonable of international students. Hence, it is only right that this kind of school uses the foreign curriculum to build the necessary foundation for the learners.

However, if yours is not yet and international school – I do not mean schools that have international in their names – if you do not serve majority international audience, majority of the graduates of your school will go ahead to study in Nigerian schools in their next level of education, if your school participates in NECO and WAEC – then you are training for Nigeria, use Nigerian national curriculum. You should understand education is a cultural activity of the people that every cultural system has its own education process. The yardstick for measuring quality and standard varies from culture to culture (Amaele, 2017).

How Many Edition has the Nigerian National Curriculum and Which is the latest?

The online community of the Nigerian education sector is currently inundated with a lot of information and resources. Far too many people claim to have and sell different educational materials – from curriculum to syllabus, scheme of works to lesson notes and so on.

To convolute things further, since everyone wants to sell; all claim to possess official materials – materials in-line with the NERDC curriculum. A school owner called me to request for lesson notes that are in line with the new 2020 NERDC curriculum that someone sold to her.

In the following sections, I list all past editions of the Nigerian National curriculum and discuss the edition currently in use. Check back in a few minutes.

Meanwhile, check out some of our third term lesson notes that are based on the national curriculum here.


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Bibliography

Below are the works I consulted in preparing the entire article:

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Adeoye, E. A. (2017). CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT: THEORY & PRACTICE (A study Guide for PGD Ed) Students.

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AKANBI, G. O., & ABIOLU, O. A. (2018). Nigeria’s 1969 Curriculum Conference: a practical approach to educational emancipation. Cadernos de História da Educação. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326884292_Nigeria’s_1969_Curriculum_Conference_a_practical_approach_to_educational_emancipation

Amaele, S. (2017). HISTORY OF EDUCATION IN NIGERIA. University of Ilorin.

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (3rd Edition). (2008). Cambridge University Press (Armada).

Danielson, C. (2002). Enhancing Student Achievement. Retrieved from Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/102109/chapters/School-Organization.aspx

Fafunwa, A. B. (1974). History of Education in Nigeria. London: George Allen & Uniwin.

Iheanacho, E. N. (2014). National Development Planning in Nigeria: An Endless. International Journal of Economic Development Research and Investment Search for Appropriate Development Strategy.

Imam, H. (2012). Educational Policy in Nigeria from the Colonial Era to the Post-Independence Period. ITALIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION.

Musingafi, M. C., Mhute, I., & Kaseke, K. E. (2015). Planning to Teach: Interrogating the Link among the Curricula, the Syllabi, Schemes and Lesson Plans in the Teaching Process. Journal of Education and Practice.

NERDC. (2004). The National Policy on Education. Yaba, Lagos: NERDC. Retrieved from http://wbgfiles.worldbank.org/documents/hdn/ed/saber/supporting_doc/AFR/Nigeria/TCH/National%20Policy%20on%20Education.pdf

Nwangu, D. I. (2009). ORGANISATION AND ADMINISTRATION OF PRIMARY EDUCATION. Enugu State University of Science & Technology.

Omoifo, C. N. (2012). ADVANCED CURRICULUM THEORY (A Study Guide for . University of Benin.

Stephens, M. (2019, April 23). Does Nigeria Use British or American English? Retrieved from Naija Home Based: https://www.naijahomebased.com/does-nigeria-use-british-or-american-english/

Teniola, E. (2018, March 20). Our new national development plan. Retrieved from Vanguard: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/03/our-new-national-development-plan/

The Glossary of Education Reform. (2013, August 29). LEARNING EXPERIENCE. Retrieved from Glossary of Education Reform: https://www.edglossary.org/learning-experience/

 

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