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 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 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:
the goals, content, method, in meeting the philosophy of Nigeria secondary educational
successfully produced/ marketed
1.4 Significance of 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
goals, content, method, in meeting the philosophy of Nigerian secondary education
1.6 Scope of 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
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. He describes it as a process of translating national educational objectives into
‘within-school do-ables’. Offorma (2005) sees curriculum as the planned learning experiences
offered to the learner in the school. In this study, it refers to vocational and technical subjects
outlined in the National Curriculum for Secondary Schools manual as part of subjects for
Skill-based subjects – As used in this study, these are practically-oriented subjects that are designed to teach students skills which will empower them for job creation and self-reliance. The subjects in this category fall under the vocational and technical field. Skill-based means the same
as practical-based and they are used interchangeably in this study. For purpose of this study,
subjects in the vocational field include Home Economics, Fine Art, Music, Typing and Shorthand,
Art and Craft, Clothing and Textile, Food & Nutrition, Home Management. While technical
subjects include Introductory Technology, Woodwork, Carpentry, Technical Drawing, Metal Work,
Agriculture Science, Computer Science, Auto Mechanic, Building Construction, Applied Electricity,
Theory-based – As used in the study, it means knowledge that is purely descriptive and devoid of
reference to purposeful action.
Practical-based – knowledge that deals with skills involving muscular dexterity and coordination
of mind and muscle (Aina 2009)
Socio-economic empowerment – It is used in this study to refer to ability of youth to organize
their finances, trade and industry for sustainable national development.
Youth – World Health Organization (WHO) defines youth as young people between the ages of
15-24 years. In this study, youth refers to young people between 10-24 years of age.
Specialist teachers – These are teachers trained in the vocational and technical field
Learner – It is used in this study to refer to secondary school students.
Infrastructural facilities – These refer to workshop rooms, equipments, and tools needed for
practical work in the skill-based subjects.
Entrepreneurial skills – Skills that will enable individual create employment or start up business.