Poor primary school management and its impact on youths restiveness


Education has remained a social process in capacity building and maintenance of society for decades, as well as a weapon for acquiring skills, relevant knowledge and habits for surviving in the changing world (Adepoju and Fabiyi 2007). According to Adesina (2011), education is a major force in economic, intellectual, social and cultural empowerment. He goes on to say that education has the capacity to bring about character and attitudinal change, as well as reshape human potential for desired development.

With the above explanation, it is safe to say that primary education is very important in character and attitudinal development thereby helping youths in our society to make informed decision such as ability to shun youth violence and other social vices. The significance of primary education necessitated the United Nations Millennium Development Goals declaration – an achievement of universal access to education by 2015 (Adepoju and Fabiyi 2007).

Quadri (2011) presents the following intentions of primary education in Nigeria: (1) to help the child to develop intellectually, physically, morally, socially and emotionally; (2) to produce well-qualified citizens that are capable of going to secondary and tertiary institutions to be trained as professionals in various services that are essential for the development of the country; and (3) to assist primary school learners who cannot further their education to become useful citizens to themselves and community at large. No doubt therefore that primary education is the foundation upon which other strata of educational edifice are built.

Adesina (2011) stated that poor management of the educational system in Nigeria especially, the primary education has eroded morals among our youth leading to their involvement in several social vices such as youth restiveness, criminal activities, cultism, etc. The Nigeria government in trying to ensure character, moral training and the development of sound attitudes emphasized the place of primary education in its 1977 National Policy on Education (NPE) as follows:

  • Inculcation of permanent literary and numeracy and the ability of communicate;
  • Laying of a sound basis for scientific and reflective thinking;
  • Citizenship education as a basis for effective participation in and contribution to the life of the society;
  • Character and moral training and the development of sound attitudes.

The policy, which was launched in 1977, was revised in 1985 to include free primary education among others, Amaghionyeodiwe and

Osinubi (2006), a review of the NPE in 2004 added the following specific objectives:

  1. Developing in the child the ability to adapt to his changing environment;
  2. Giving the child the opportunities for developing manipulative skills that will enable him function effectively in the society within the limit of his capacity; and
  3. Providing basic tools for further educational advancement including preparation for trades and crafts of the locality.

The above objectives where designed to build up a child by ensuring they can fit in into the society but poor management of primary has led to constant outbreak of unruly behaviour on the part of pupils, a constant lack of educational amenities as well as an overpopulation of pupils.

Conceptual framework

According to Csapo (2013), primary education is the initial stage of education and has as its basic aim to create, establish and offer opportunities to all children, regardless of age, gender or country of origin, to achieve a balanced cognitive, emotional and psychomotor development.  Onuka and Arojowolu (2008) stated that in Nigeria, attendance of primary education is compulsory for all the children that have reached the age of five years and eight months.

Universal Basic Education (UBE) (2006) stated that the national curriculum and the teaching methodologies adopted in Nigerian Primary Education emphasize the learning process and focus on strategies which assist pupils in learning how to learn and in developing their critical and creative thinking. A basic responsibility of Primary Education is to help pupils become acquainted with their civilization and tradition and to develop respect and love for their national heritage, become aware of their national identity and their history.

In addition, UBE (2006) stated that the primary education helps to create awareness of the multicultural trends which are developing in the modern world. Consequently, primary education supports the development of intercultural awareness, tolerance and respect of otherness. Primary Education works towards the harmonious coexistence of pupils regardless of differences in ethnicity or cultural background.

Historical background on management of primary education in Nigeria

The management of primary education in Nigeria passed through different stages and different authorities exercised its control from time to time. Ab initio, the church missionaries who introduced Western or Formal Education to Nigeria in 1842 handled the management of primary education system. After much criticism from different quarters about the crude and lack of proper coordination of the system by these missionaries, the British government intervened through establishment of various Education Ordinances and Codes. It is worth mentioning that the colonial government in Lagos made intermittent attempts to assist some of the missions in the management of schools between 1870 and 1876. While a bill was passed as an ordinance (first of its kind) for the promotion and assistance of education and it covered the West African territories of Lagos, Gambia, Gold coast (Now Ghana) and Sierra Leone.

In 1887, there was the enactment of the first purely Nigerian education ordinance as a result of separation of Lagos from Gold Coast in which it became the Colony and Protectorate of Lagos. This ordinance was promulgated to increase the betterment of education administration. In one word, the British government had no clearly defined policy on education for its African colonies during this time till 1925. It was Phelps-Strokes’ report that forced the British Colonial Government to demonstrate its interest in African education. So, the principles in which the educational systems of the colonized countries should be based set out by the 1925 Memorandum on education. As from 1946, Nigerians were deeply involved in the administration of their educational system as a result of Arthur Richard’s Constitution, which created Regional Government – Northern, Eastern, and Western regions. It must be stated that during this era, the colonial overlords were still supervising Nigeria’s educational affair and partly funding it. The missionaries and voluntary agencies were also with the control of staff recruitment, supervision of staff, and the funding of their own schools only with grant-in-aid as subvention from the government.

Some years prior Nigeria’s independent, the primary education started developing at different rates in different parts of Nigeria. The Universal Primary Education (UPE) was introduced as first of its kind in January 1955 at the then Western Region followed by Eastern Region in 1956 and later by Federal Government in September 1976.

This programme indicated the government dynamic policy to favour the education of the masses on the basis that every Nigeria child has an inalienable right to a minimum of six years of education if he is to function effectively as a citizen of Nigeria that is free and democratic, just and egalitarian, united and self-reliant, with full opportunities (Fafunwa, 2009). After Nigeria has gotten independence in 1960, there was increase clamour for government take-over of schools from the missionaries and voluntary agencies, at least, to be able to revert the old system and to tailor it to meet the needs of the new nation. Adesina (2011) reported that it was contended that absolute take-over of schools would improve their curriculum, teacher quality and centralized provision of instructional resources, minimize inequalities and provide a dynamic centre of leadership for educational innovation. So, there was government take-over of schools in 1970.

At the end of the Nigerian Civil War in 1970, a new dimension in public administration and funding of education emerged. That was the government take-over of primary and secondary schools from the voluntary agencies. The trend was started by the then East Central State in 1971 and by the end of that decade most states of the federation especially the Southern states had followed suit. This greatly increased the government burden in education finance. The government was able to expand its activities in education sector during 1970s due to increased revenue from oil. With this, the government felt capable of embarking o the Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1976. At that time, the government assumed full financial responsibility of the scheme. This scheme radically expanded public involvement in education financing and administration.

With the inception of the second republic in 1979, the Federal government withdrew its direct subsidy for primary education and transferred the responsibility to local governments. This effectively marked the end of Universal Primary Education (UPE) in most states of the federation. During this period, most states quickly introduced fees and levies at all levels of education. The military take-over in 1984 helped make this state of affairs nationwide. The states out of party policy doggedly struck to UPE albeit in the name of feeling free to introduce fees. In 1986, the Federal Government again abolished tuition fees in primary schools nationwide. As a result of this, it started making direct grants to local government for primary education. In 1989, this grant included funds for part payment of salaries for primary school teachers. In 1976, the management of primary was taken over by the Federal Government while the administration and funding was transferred to the state and Local Governments in 1979. As a result, different management and funding arrangements were made by different states during this period.

In 1988, the National Primary Education Commission (NPEC) was established with Decree 31 of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1988 to manage the affair of primary education. It was later scrapped by the Federal Government under the provision of Decrees 2 and 3 of 1991, which vested the full responsibility of the administration of primary education in the hand of Local Government. With the Decree No. 96 of 25th August 1993, the National Primary Education Commission was re-established with State Primary Education Board (SPEB) and Local Government Education Authority (LGEA) and they were once again in control of primary education in Nigeria. The Local Government Education Authority (LGEA) was assigned to day-to-day administration of primary schools in its area of jurisdiction. While, the State Primary Education Board (SPEB) was charged with administration of primary schools in the state. The Local Government Councils appoint Education Secretaries who then report directly to the SPEBs. These arrangements have resulted in general conflicting pressures on the Education Secretaries due to the different roles played by the SPEB’s and the Local Government Councils (LGC’s).

There are also areas of overlap in the functions of different levels of management, which need to be addressed. The National Primary Education Commission was the overseer to the State Primary Education Board (SPEB) of all the states of the Federation. But the Federal Government supervised this commission. From this arrangement, it is obvious that the management of primary education is no more one government affair; it involves all tiers of government. According to the provision of this decree, “the National Primary Education Commission receives the National Primary Education Fund as established by this decree from the Primary Education Board of each state and the Federal Capital Government Sponsored Special Primary Education Projects in accordance with the formula prescribed in this decree as the Transitional Council, from time-to-time prescribe”.

This was the condition of primary education funding and administration since 1993 to the time when the newly democratic government came into power in May 29, 1999. In replacement of Universal Primary Education (UPE) is the currently introduced Universal Basic Education (UBE), which was launched on 30 September 1999 in Sokoto. It is also free and universal in nature like before but now in addition, it is compulsorily accommodating children from primary school through Junior Secondary School. Various responsibilities are assigned to all levels of government (federal, state, and local), which is not much different from what was in existence before now.

Factors inhibiting effective management of primary education in Nigeria

The management of primary education in Nigeria is saddled with several challenges which include:

  • Staffing
  • Finance
  • Facilities
  • Supervision
  • Overpopulation
  • School head–teacher relationship
  • School–community relationship
  • Indiscipline


Odia and Omofonmwan (2007) argue intensely that acute shortage of teachers can result in poor outcome in teaching and learning. Staffing is considered by many researchers as a vital part of the functioning of any organisation, including a school. Inadequate staffing or lack of motivated teachers inhibits the success of primary school administration in Nigeria.


One of the biggest challenges of primary school management is poor funding. The extent to which adequate educational programmes are achieved depends largely on the economic provisions supporting the programme. Shortage of money or inadequate funds often leads to large classes for teachers, meagre libraries, few instructional supplies, cheap building constructions and poorly trained teachers. Funds meant for primary schools were grossly misused because there was lack of commitment and good financial administration on the part of officials. Insufficient funds to maintain schools and pay teachers’ salaries are among other factors that militate against the smooth administration of primary schools (Omwami & Keller, 2010).


In 2006, Aluede warned that large number of primary schools suffered an immense deprivation of facilities that support teaching and learning. In a study conducted by Adepoju and Fabiyi (2007), it revealed the following: 12% of pupils sat on the floor; 38% of the classrooms have no ceilings; while 87% of the classrooms were overcrowded. This kind of situation has consistently presented enormous challenges to school heads.


Lack of supervision and monitoring of schools are regarded as the major drawbacks in the education sector. Owoeye (2009) asserted among other factors, that effective supervision was an important virtue that teachers should uphold effectively in the school system. A failure to appropriately supervise instruction on the part of teachers might result in the failure of supervisory programme, which is a critical factor for school administration. Teachers are not the only ones deserving supervision. School heads do require supervision.


Overpopulation is a very serious problem to the effective management of primary schools in Nigeria. Oni (2009) narrates the despicable state of over-population through the experience of a one-time federal minister of education in Nigeria thus: In one state capital, I witnessed an appalling situation where three classes made up of a total of 200 children were sitting in the sun facing one blackboard. This perhaps meant that as a result of overpopulation, pupils could not be accommodated in the classrooms prompting an outside of classroom location.

School head–teacher relationship

Quality assurance in schools is achieved if teachers, who are tasked with the provision of essential inputs such as adequate planning for lesson notes, effective delivery of lessons, proper monitoring and evaluation of students’ performance, provision of regular feedback on students performance, adequate record keeping and appropriate discipline of students, take their jobs seriously (Ayeni 2012). Research has shown that cooperation among colleagues in all sectors derives from trust, respect for one another and helpful feedback. A healthy relationship between school heads and their teachers can result in an increase in teacher job performance, reduced incidence of pupil indiscipline and an improvement in school-community relationship. School teachers should be made to feel that they can reach out to the school head with their complaints and receive support.

School–community relationship

The school head is in a unique position as the manager or administrator who controls school’s resources for the purpose of attaining his schools’ goals (Adeyemi, 2010). Sadly, this unique position is threatened by a severe lack of qualified and dedicated teachers, cooperative community and a general lack of school resources.


Education, according to Fafunwa (2009) is the aggregate of all the processes by which a child or adult develops the abilities, attitudes and other forms of behaviour that present value to his society. Education can happen within or outside a formal school programme. Schools act as an instrument of society, utilised for the teaching of young ones (Ayeni 2012). Poor results have been blamed on falling standards as well as the inability of teachers and school heads to enforce discipline in schools. In fact, one of the reasons for the introduction of the Universal

Basic Education in Nigeria was the sharp decline in the morality of primary school children (Edho, 2009). The enforcement of discipline through corporal means is now decried around the world. When teachers are unable to enforce discipline as a result of conflicting values, the teachers feel insecure.

Impact of poor primary education management on youth restiveness

Poor management of primary school education makes primary school education less attractive and a very high propensity for pupils to drop out of school. Igbuzor (2006) stated that high dropout rate of primary education due to poor management poses a lot of challenge to the community at large. Educational attainment especially primary education affects the decisions of an individual. Schooling increases individual wage rates, thereby increasing the opportunity costs of getting involved in violence and crime. Educated people are less likely to be involved in violence because punishment for violent acts such as incarceration is likely to be more costly for the more educated.

Education may alter individual rates of time preference or risk aversion. That is, schooling may increase the patience exhibited by individuals or their risk aversion. More patient and more risk adverse individuals would place more weight on the possibility of future punishments which discourage their involvement in crime and violent acts. Schooling may also affect individual tastes for violent crimes by directly affecting the psychic costs of breaking the law (Edho, 2009).

Measures to improve the management of primary education

Primary education is central to the achievement of the overall national educational goals. The primary education managers, in their quest to continue to meet the national demand for primary education quite efficiently and effectively, must constantly device new and improved ways of managing the system. The following measures are suggested by Aluede (2006) for the improvement of Primary education in Nigeria:

  • There is need for the creation of more social awareness on the recent UBE Bill to ensure compliance. The various States and Local Governments should also back this up with edicts and byelaws where necessary. Various tiers of government should also formulate clear policies on enrolment of pupils, funding, provision of facilities as well as quality assurance.
  • There is the urgent need to set a national minimum standard for primary education which must be followed by all providers of primary education in Nigeria whether private or public.
  • Since the government is still the major source of found to education in Nigeria, there is the need to change the pattern of funding so that provision for primary education should adequately match its needs.
  • To be able to take sound decisions on the management of primary education in Nigeria, there is the need to ensure availability of accurate data on the system.
  • The institutional managers and teachers should be constantly trained and retrained in the modern data management techniques.
  • There is the need to step up the institutional capacity building.
  • The school managers should be mandated to attend training workshops and conferences to improve their managerial skills.


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