The Nigerian National Curriculum Editions in One Sentence

This post with keywords – Nigerian National Curriculum Editions – lists and describes all the editions of the Nigerian National Curriculum – from the time before the influence of foreigners until date.

It is more or less a detailed history of western education in Nigeria – from the curriculum perspective. This post will give a deep understanding of both the essence and content of education. 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.

Introduction to the Nigerian National Curriculum Editions

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 discuss the type of curriculum that Nigerians used to train themselves before the arrival of foreigners. The unit also details the arrival of missionaries and the era of mission school with their curriculum.

The Entire 3-Series Post

This post is the second of a 3-part article. The entire article is a comprehensive post. I addressed 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 article into three part.

Part One – Meaning of Curriculum and How to Choose the Right Curriculum for your School

The first part defines what the (national) curriculum is. It enumerates the components of curriculum and discusses the types of curriculum in Nigerian schools. I concluded the first part by providing leading guides on how to choose the right curriculum for your school.

Part Two – Editions of the Nigerian National Curriculum

In the second part – beginning from this post, I 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. Because the editions of the national curriculum are many, and to make the reading easier for you; I divided the second part into three smaller units.

The first unit – The Nigerian Indigenous and Missionary Curriculum – which is this post

This unit discuss the type of curriculum that Nigerians used to train themselves before the arrival of foreigners. The unit also details the arrival of missionaries and the era of mission school with their curriculum.

The Second Unit – The Nigerian National Colonial Curriculum

I committed the second unit of part two to the Nigerian National Colonial Curriculum. This was the curriculum that the British colonial governments used to train Nigerians during colonization.

The Third Unit – The 6-3-3-4 & 9-Years Basic Education National Curriculum

The third unit of part two discusses the truly national curricula. It began by discussing the curriculum of the National Curriculum Conference. Then the third unit proceeded to 9-Year Basic Education National Curriculum. The third unit concluded by discussing the latest edition of the Revised 9-Year Basic Education Curriculum.

Part Three – Curriculum, Syllabus, Scheme of Work, Unit of Work plan and Lesson plan

In the last part, I distinguished 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.

Nigerian National Curriculum Editions

Making a list of past curriculum in Nigeria can is basically the same thing as going through the history of education in Nigeria. This is because Nigeria did not have a truly national curriculum prior to the 1969 national curriculum conference. And even after then, the politics of the country greatly influenced the education as well as the curriculum in use.

Stability set into the system only after the country switched to the current reign of democracy. Consequently, we come to know what we now have as national curriculum after 1999.

Nonetheless, I briefly gave a review of the curriculum before the 1999 era just to give you a fuller understanding of the Nigerian education environment.

This will help you to appreciate where we are coming from. You will also become conscious of your role in fulfilling the nation’s dreams.

Loosely speaking, we can say Nigeria has had six (6) different curricular: 3 regional curricular and 3 national curricular.  These include the:

  1. Indigenous Education Curriculum
  2. Missionary Curriculum (1842 – 1882)
  3. Colonial curriculum (1882 – 1948)
    1. 1882 curriculum
    2. 1887 curriculum
    3. The Northern Nigeria education curriculum
    4. 1916 curriculum
    5. 1926 curriculum
  4. The 6-3-3-4 curriculum
  5. The 9-Year BEC
  6. The Revised 9-Year BEC

As you will find out – after going through the entire article; even the briefest review of these curriculum will produce relatively lengthy reading. Consequently, I split this second article in the series into three sub-units. This will give you better and less tedious reading experience.

This first sub unit focuses on indigenous and missionary curricula. The second sub unit focuses on the colonial curricula. Finally, the third sub unit discusses the Basic Education Curriculum with its revision.

The complete series will prove to be a highly profitable reading for anyone undergoing a postgraduate programme in education – and doubly so, if in the field of curriculum studies.

The Nigerian Indigenous Education Curriculum

This is the curriculum that different peoples of Nigeria used to educate their people long before any form of foreign intrusion. Each of the Nigerian peoples had curriculum for training people to meet their educational needs.  These curricular were majorly informal in nature.

Goal of Nigerian Indigenous Education

(Fafunwa, 1974) stated that the Nigerian indigenous education has seven cardinal points. These were the purpose of education – the education needs of the time. The seven purpose of education include to:

  1. develop the child’s latent skills;
  2. develop the child’s character;
  3. inculcate respect for elders and those in authority;
  1. develop intellectual skills;
  2. acquire specific vocational training and to develop a healthy attitude towards honest labour;
  3. develop a sense of belonging and participate actively in family and community affairs; and
  4. understand, appreciate and promote the cultural heritage of the community at large

Contents of Nigerian Indigenous Education Curriculum

With the unique education needs, the indigenous peoples of Nigeria needed a curriculum to achieve the goals. (Amaele, 2017) noted that the contents of Nigerian indigenous education curriculum include:

  • Technology – weaving, sculpturing, blacksmithing, carving, farming, fishing, cattle rearing, hair plaiting, dress making, bead weaving, leatherwork, pottery, brick making, basket weaving, raffia works, mat weaving, etc.
  • Citizenship – Activities on character building, since conformity was necessary;
  • Physical Education – Physical training through physical contests, wrestling, perseverance activities, etc.;
  • Arts and crafts – carving, painting, modelling, artistic and creative pursuits, songs and dances, masquerades etc.;
  • Arithmetic – counting, games, etc.;
  • Science – Study of facts about natural environments: a father moves about with his son, introducing him to the names of different objects, plants, animals, etc.;
  • History – including stories about the gods, traditions of various societies which were preserved in folklore and regarded as legends which pass from one generation to another.

Method of Teaching in Nigerian Indigenous Curriculum

indoctrination, modelling, initiation ceremonies, reward and punishment, imitation, role play, oral literature, poetry, instruction, observation, intention, participation, apprenticeship. Emphasis is laid on practical knowledge, skills and character.

Levels of Education in Nigerian Indigenous Curriculum

The indigenous Nigerian education is well structured into four levels that are sacredly guided. One may not skip a level. There was little or no space for “special children”. Everyone must proceed the levels religiously. The levels of education under this curriculum include:

  1. Infancy – ages 0 to 5
  2. Childhood – ages 6 to 12
  3. Adolescence – ages 12 and above
  4. Higher Education – Secret Cult & traditional medicine

The Missionary Curriculum (1842 – 1882)

Although Islamic Education existed long in (Northern) Nigerian before the advent of the Christian missionaries, the current (secular western) education in Nigeria traces its origin to the missionaries.

The Islamic Education Curriculum

Off course, there was the Islamic/Arabic Education curriculum that aided the attainment of the Islamic education needs of the Muslims in Nigeria from the late 11th century. However, because this constitute a separate subject matter from that which we discussing, I shan’t say much of Islamic religion curriculum – until when I shall discuss the subjects under the current curriculum.

The Christian Education Curriculum

As I have noted above, modern education in Nigeria traces its origin to the works of the early Christian Missionaries. It was the missionaries that first built formal schools.

The Portuguese Catholic Missionaries in Nigeria

Although, the education activities of the Christian missionaries became most pronounced as from 1842 – after the abolition of slave trade; as early as 1515, the Portuguese Catholic Missionaries had established a primary school in the palace of the Oba of Benin – basically for the children of the Oba and his chiefs which they later converted to Christianity.  (Quinn-Young & White) placed the arrival of the Portuguese in Lagos to be in 1472. The Catholic missionary activities also extended to Brass, Akassa, Warri where churches and schools were established. But the Catholic influence was almost wiped out by the slave trade which ravaged West Africa for nearly three hundred years (Fafunwa, 1974).

The British Missionaries in Nigeria

The Catholic Missionaries were not the only set of Portuguese that came to Nigeria in the 14th century. Neither were the Portuguese the only Europeans to come to Nigeria. The events that followed the industrial revolution in Europe saw many Europeans in Africa – in general, and Nigeria in particular. The influx was a combination of missionaries and merchants. While the former came for evangelism; the later came for commerce. Notwithstanding, both believed in and actually used education to achieve their objectives – to the extent that the politics of the time permitted.

(Osokoya, 1995) reported that the anti-slavery works of the British interested Badagry and Abeokuta to the point that both formally invited the missionaries. In response to this request, in 24th September, 1842; the Wesleyan Methodist Society sent Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman Mr. & Mrs. William De Graft to start both Christian and education work at Badagry. This paved the way for other missionary societies into Nigeria. These included:

  • Church Missionary Society;
  • Baptist Mission;
  • Roman Catholic Mission;
  • Presbyterian Church of Scotland;
  • Primitive Methodist Missionary Society; and
  • Qua Iboe Mission.

Each of these missionary societies operated independent mission schools.

Aims of the Mission Schools

The education of the missionary societies was directed towards three principal goals. This included:

  1. Convert the students to Christianity
  2. Train indigenous manpower – including Sunday school teachers and Catechists – to carry out the evangelical work to the various local communities
  3. training of lower manpower to serve as interpreters, messengers, clerks, cleaners, etc. for the various missions and the British Businessmen

Contents of the Missionary Curriculum

(Ajayi) stated that although the missionaries had the same general aims of education as stated above, the mission schools had no uniform curriculum. For example, while the Catholic mission schools used Portuguese as medium of instruction; the non-Catholic mission schools used English Language.

Nonetheless, education historians often find a common ground for the curriculum of the mission schools. Experts generally agree that the mission schools originated the 3R’s curriculum in Nigeria which will later be inherited by the colonialists. The 3 R’s stand for Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic.

This once again demonstrated how curriculum is a means to an end. The missionary curriculum perfectly meets their aims for educating the Nigerians at the time:

  1. They needed Nigerians that are able to Read the Bible so as to preach to, and convert the locals; hence they made reading a key component of their curriculum.
  2. The Nigerians who were to do this evangelism work also needed to be able to write to the foreign missionaries. So the foreign missionaries included Writing.
  3. Finally, the foreign missionaries wanted Nigerians that could carry out businesses in the names of the missionaries and also interpret during business transactions. This creates the need for basic Mathematics, hence Arithmetic was included in their curriculum.

Aside these contents of the missionary curriculum, (Amaele, 2017) said the missionaries also taught subsidiary subjects like agriculture, nature study, craft.

The Missionary and the Colonial Governments

The missionaries provided the independent non-uniform education to serve their evangelism purpose uninterrupted for a long time – over 50 years! However, the narrative changed with the advent of colonization. Nonetheless, this did not happen immediately the British assume control of government. For about 20 years after Britain established its colonial government in Nigeria, it did not concern itself with matters of education.

The colonial government eventually gave education thoughts beginning from 1882. With every new era of education, comes new curriculum. So was the colonial education. The objectives of the colonial education were different from the missionary education.

In the second unit of the part 2 of the article, I discussed the colonial education – the aims, objectives and curriculum. Click here to go the post.

If you have any question or request, do not hesitate to contact us on WhatsApp: +234-8067-6892-17 or via email: [email protected]

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The materials I consulted in writing the entire article are listed below:

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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’s_1969_Curriculum_Conference_a_practical_approach_to_educational_emancipation

AKPAN, G. A., USORO, H. S., & IBIRITAM, K. S. (n.d.). The Evolution of Vocational Education in Nigeria and Its Role in National Development. The Intuition. Retrieved from

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

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

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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.

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NERDC . (2015). NERDC Basic Technology for Junior Secondary Schools 2. Ikeja, Lagos: Learn Africa Plc.

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NERDC. (2007). 9-Year Basic Education Curriculum (Basic Technology) for JSS 1 – 3. Abuja: Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC).

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