The Universal Basic Education scheme adopted by the Federal Government of Nigeria provides for a nine year continuous basic education comprising six years of Primary education and three years of Junior Secondary education. This nine-year cycle is free and compulsory for all children. However, as at 2006, only 22 per cent of the over 10.5 million eligible children between 12 and 14 years of age were enrolled in Junior Secondary Schools. Over the last 10 years, the enrolment ratio improved only marginally.
Many adolescents do not attend school because their parents are unable to afford the monetary cost of schooling. For others, they have to start working to support their family. Figures also show that there are higher proportions of boys in junior secondary school as compared to girls.
Transition rates from primary school into junior secondary school are low compared to the 100 per cent transition rate envisaged under the country’s education scheme. Although there has been a slight increase in transition rates, opportunities for entering into junior secondary schools are limited. National data shows that more than half of the children who would have been admitted are denied admission due to unavailability of space.
This can be explained by the lack of adequate schools. In many cases, the great distance to schools is a major obstacle to enrolment. In addition, those who enrol in school either drop out or attend irregularly. In 2006, only 33% of the pupils completed Junor Secondary School. The lack of adequate sanitation in schools also contributes to poor school attendance of the girl child.
The quality of education at this level is low. Evaluations show that students perform poorly in core subjects.