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Education is highly valued by Nigerians and is seen as the key to one's future. Sadly, this appreciation is yet to transfer to the quality of the government-run school system. State-sponsored schools are a far cry from satisfying international standards and are plagued by staff shortages and a deficiency of learning tools, textbooks and facilities. Most expats send their children to private international schools in Nigeria, while some may opt for homeschooling.
Public schools in Nigeria
Nigeria’s public school system has been struggling as it is severely underfunded and many state schools lack basic facilities and learning materials.
Schooling is compulsory for the duration of the basic educational phase, which begins at the age of six and lasts for nine years. This is followed by three years of optional senior secondary education.
Unfortunately, Nigeria has seen little improvement in their schooling system, and families who can afford it rather opt for private and international schools.
International schools in Nigeria
Foreign nationals may be surprised at just how many international school options there are in Nigeria's major urban centres, namely the capital city of Abuja and the commercial capital of Lagos. As expected, rural areas are unable to support the same type of provision; expat parents living far from a large city may want to consider homeschooling or sending their child to a boarding school.
Most international school curricula in Nigeria follow British, American or International Baccalaureate standards. The quality of education tends to be high, and students need not worry about falling behind during their time abroad. Many are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and offer a healthy choice of extra-curricular activities.
Fees and admission to international schools
Expats should be fully aware that such a posh education amid a sea of substandard state options certainly comes at a price. On top of inordinately high basic fees, other expenses can include school uniforms, textbooks, extra-curricular activities and transport. We advise expat parents moving to Nigeria for work to negotiate for subsidies and allowances for education in addition to their contracted salary.
Special-needs education in Nigeria
There have been efforts to integrate special needs education into the typical classroom settings in Nigeria, yet most schools for students with disabilities are separate centres that can provide full support. International schools will provide the best quality of facilities, including scribes, counselling and assistant teachers. Specific services available will vary, though, and some schools may only offer limited assistance. It’s best to contact and meet with the schools directly for more information.
Homeschooling in Nigeria
Expats wishing to keep their children out of the Nigerian schooling system or those who are relocating to Nigeria on a short-term contract may choose to homeschool their children. Homeschooling is permissible in Nigeria, although there is very little policy to regulate it and few families choose this.
However, homeschooling and distance learning are becoming increasingly popular, and in some cases necessary. Expat parents should research the various curricula and see how homeschooling aligns with their lives and capabilities. Private and international schools may also provide varying levels of support and educational resources, and we also recommend getting in touch with the homeschooling community via social media.
Tutors in Nigeria
While schools encourage students to succeed, classroom learning may not be enough or suit every child. Parents can search for private tutors to provide extra classes to their children, and this can prove particularly useful around exam time. There are several tutoring companies located in major cities and independent tutors can also be found through online portals such as TeacherOn.
►For an overview of the Nigerian healthcare system, see Healthcare in Nigeria
►For information on managing your finances while in Nigeria, see Banking, Money and Taxes in Nigeria
"The American and British schools are great schools to enrol your children. The two schools have a long wait list (so I've heard). The best thing to do is prepare; once you know that Lagos is your designation, start the school process." Read more about US expat Keli's time in Nigeria in her interview.
"My son went to the American International School of Lagos for Pre-K and Kindergarten and his teachers were wonderful. They followed the American system and he had a seamless transition when we moved back and he started in first grade in August. I would highly recommend that school." American expat Meredith shares her experiences in Nigeria in her interview.
Are you an expat living in Nigeria?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Nigeria. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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