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Mass Educational Expansion and the Unemployment Nexus: The Nigerian Experience 1975-86

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In 1976, the Nigerian Federal Military Government introduced Universal Free Primary Education-UPE. Free secondary education was introduced in 1979, and by 1980 it declared education at all levels tuition-free. The declaration of free education at all levels was implemented without proper public consultations or previous discussions. The liberating effect of a good, well-planned and well-sustained education is not in dispute. The problem is that the unpropitious side of a gigantic project like free education at all levels for a developing economy such as Nigeria was not adequately explored. Problems like finding employment for those educated in the new schools, the rapid increase in the number of school leavers at a time when employment opportunities within the modern sector were increasing very slowly, and the huge cost of implementing and sustaining free education at all levels were not properly debated. This paper examines the achievements made in educational expansion programs of the 1970’s and 1980’s [1975-86] in terms of quantity and growth in educational participation rates at each level, and educational institutions.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: The University of Manitoba

Publication date: January 1, 1995

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