Universal basic education in Nigeria: can non-state actors make a difference?




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Peer reviewed



Against the backdrop of falling standards and failing government policies in the education sector in Nigeria, this paper investigates how and why non-state actors can make significant impact towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals for Universal Basic Education. This study draws from semi-structured interviews of 15 heads and proprietors- six state-funded schools, six faith schools and three other privately owned schools- to examine and compare the different motivations, guiding principles and overall impact of these actors in the education sector. Religious actors are, along with private providers, making significant contribution to the provision of basic education in Nigeria. Students from Faith schools tend to perform better academically, and they also tend to be more disciplined and resourceful. However, because they are fee paying, fewer households are able to access them. The findings highlights the need to facilitate better cooperation and knowledge transfer activities between public, private and faith schools. It also emphasises the need for better government commitment and investment in provision of resources and facilities,curriculum regulations, and regular inspection and quality monitoring of public schools. The study highlights, on the one hand, the superior capacity of non-state actors- especially religious actors- to deploy their vast social capital towards the mobilisation of funds and human resources. On the other hand, while they have made inroads in their share of total national school enrolment, non-state actors have not made significant impact on access to quality education, due to high fees and entry barriers faced by poorer households.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.


Universal basic education, Sustainable development goals, Public education, Private education, Education for all, Nigeria


Kolade, O. (2019) Universal basic education in Nigeria: can non-state actors make a difference? Quality Assurance in Education,


Research Institute

Institute for Applied Economics and Social Value (IAESV)
Centre for Enterprise and Innovation (CEI)