Geography of Nigeria
Nigeria is located in western Africa on the Gulf of Guinea and has a total area of
923,768 km2 (356,669 sq mi), making it the world's 32nd-largest country
(after Tanzania). It is comparable in size to Venezuela, and is about twice the size of
California. It shares a 4,047 kilometres (2,515 mi) border with Benin (773 km), Niger
(1497 km), Chad (87 km), Cameroon (1690 km), and has a coastline of at least
853 km. Nigeria lies between latitudes 4° and 14°N, and longitudes 2° and 15°E.
The Zuma Rock near Suleja
The highest point in Nigeria is ChappalWaddi at 2,419 m (7,936 ft). The main rivers are
the Niger and the Benue River which converge and empty into the Niger Delta, one of
the world's largest river deltas and the location of a large area of Central African
Nigeria has a varied landscape. The far south is defined by its tropical rainforest
climate, where annual rainfall is 60 to 80 inches (1,524 to 2,032 mm) a year. In the
southeast stands the Obudu Plateau. Coastal plains are found in both the southwest
and the southeast. This forest zone's most southerly portion is defined as salt water
swamp, also known as a mangrove swamp because of the large amount
of mangroves in the area. North of this is fresh water swamp, containing different
vegetation from the salt water swamp, and north of that is rain forest.
Nigeria's most expansive topographical region is that of the valleys of the Niger and
Benue River valleys (which merge into each other and form a "y" shape). To the
southwest of the Niger there is "rugged" highland, and to the southeast of the Benue are
hills and mountains which forms theMambilla Plateau, the highest Plateau in
Nigeria.This plateau extends to the border with Cameroon, this montane land is part of
the BamendaHighlandsin Cameroon. The area near the border with Cameroon close to
the coast is rich rainforest and part of the Cross-Sanaga-Bioko coastal
forests ecoregion, an important centre for biodiversityincluding the drill monkey which is
only found in the wild in this area and across the border in Cameroon. It is widely
believed that the areas surrounding Calabar, Cross River State, also in this forest,
contain the world's largest diversity of butterflies. The area of southern Nigeria between
the Niger and the Cross Rivers has seen its forest more or less disappear to be
replaced by grassland (see Cross-Niger transition forests).
Everything in between the far south and the far north, is savannah (insignificant tree
cover, with grasses and flowers located between trees), and rainfall is between 20 and
60 inches (508 and 1,524 mm) per year. The savannah zone's three categories
are Guinean forest-savanna mosaic, plains of tall grass which are interrupted by trees
and the most common across the country: Sudan savannah, similar but with "shorter
grasses and shorter trees; and Sahel savannah, comprised patches of grass and sand,
found in the northeast. In the Sahel region, rain is less than 20 inches (508 mm) per
year and the Sahara Desert is encroaching. In the dry north-east corner of the country
lies Lake Chad, which Nigeria shares with Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
Nigeria's Delta region, home of the large oil industry, experiences serious oil spills and
other environmental problems, which has caused conflict.
management including sewage
of deforestation and soil degradation, and climate change or global warming are the
major environmental problems in Nigeria. Waste management presents problems in
a mega city like Lagos and other major Nigerian cities which are linked with economic
development, population growth and the inability of municipal councils to manage the
resulting rise in industrial and domestic waste. This huge waste management problem is
also attributable to unsustainable environmental management lifestyles of Kubwa
Community in the Federal Capital Territory, where there are habits of indiscriminate
disposal of waste, dumping of waste along or into the canals, sewerage systems that
are channels for water flows, etc. The significant population increase of individuals from
different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, as well as Kubwa becoming entirely
new and heterogeneous community since Abuja became Nigeria capital are some of the
reasons for this waste management menace in Kubwa community.
Haphazard industrial planning, increased urbanization, poverty and lack of competence
of the municipal government are seen as the major reasons for high levels of waste
pollution in major Nigerian cities. Some of the 'solutions' have been disastrous to the
environment, resulting in untreated waste being dumped in places where it can pollute
waterways and groundwater.
In terms of global warming, Africans contribute only about one metric ton of carbon
dioxide per person per year. It is perceived by many climate change experts that food
production and security in the northern Sahel region of the country will suffer as semiarid areas will have more dry periods in the future.
Nigeria is divided into thirty-six states and one Federal Capital Territory, which are
further sub-divided into 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs). The plethora of states, of
which there were only three at independence, reflect the country's tumultuous history
and the difficulties of managing such a heterogeneous national entity at all levels of
government. In some contexts, the states are aggregated into six geopolitical zones:
North West, North East, North Central, South East, South South, and South West.
Nigeria has six cities with a population of over 1 million people (from largest to
smallest: Lagos, Kano, Ibadan, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, and Benin City). Lagos is
the largest city in sub-Saharan Africa, with a population of over 8 million in its urban
area alone. Population of Nigeria's cities over a million are listed below
Population of major cities
See also: List of cities in Nigeria
Port Harcourt 1,320,214
Educational system of Nigeria
The Federal Republic of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country is in the West African
sub-region, bordered by Niger in the north, Chad in the northeast, Cameroon in the
east, and Benin in the west. Nigeria currently has 36 states with a Federal Capital
Territory and a population of over 150 million people. Of this population, approximately
30 million are students. The country is rich in petroleum and many other natural
resources. The three dominant tribes are Yoruba in the southwest, Ibo in the eastern
region and Hausa in the north. The official language is English, although most people
speak their native languages in addition to English. English is the only language used
in schools, for reading, writing and speaking.
Education in Nigeria is the shared responsibility of the federal, state and local
governments. The Federal Ministry of Education plays a dominant role in regulating the
education sector, engaging in policy formation and ensuring quality control. However,
the federal government is more directly involved with tertiary education than it is with
school education, which is largely the responsibility of state (secondary) and local
(primary) governments. The education sector is divided into three sub-sectors: basic
(nine years), post-basic/senior secondary (three years), and tertiary (four to seven
years, depending on the major or course of study). Education in Nigeria is provided by
public and private institutions.
According to Nigeria’s National Policy on Education (2004), basic education covers
education given to children 3-15 years of age, which includes pre-primary programs
(ages three to five), and nine years of formal (compulsory) schooling consisting of six
years of primary and three years of junior secondary.
Post-basic education includes three years of senior secondary education in either an
academic or technical stream. Continuing education options are provided through
vocational and technical schools.
The tertiary sector consists of a university sector and a non-university sector. The latter
is composed of polytechnics, monotechnics and colleges of education. The tertiary
sector as a whole offers opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, vocational and
technical education. There are currently (2011) 117 federal, state and private
universities accredited in Nigeria as degree-granting institutions. Information on all
accredited universities is available on the National University Commission’s website.
The academic year typically runs from September to July. Most universities use a
semester system of 18 - 20 weeks. Others run from January to December, divided into
3 terms of 10 -12 weeks.
Annually, an average of 1.5 million students take the Unified Tertiary and Matriculation
Examination (UTME) for entrance into Nigerian universities, polytechnics and colleges
of education. Universities have the capacity to absorb less than 40 percent of these test
takers. The other 60 percent tend to go to their second and third choice categories of
institutions—polytechnics and colleges of education. Many Nigerian students also apply
to institutions abroad. In 2011, 40 percent of the students who sat for the UTME made
the minimum cut-off grade of 200 (out of 400) for entry into Nigerian universities.
There are currently various government reforms and initiatives aimed at improving the
Nigerian educational system. These include the upgrade of some polytechnics and
colleges of education to the status of degree-awarding institutions, the approval and
accreditation of more private universities, and the dissemintaion of better educationrelated data, including the recently published Nigerian Educational Statistics (a
publication assisted by USAID among others).
However, with the recent announcement by Nigeria’s National Population Commission
that Nigeria’s population is expected to hit 166 million by October 31, 2011 and that
approximately 60 percent of this population will be between the ages of 13 and 45, the
recent government initiatives fall far short of addressing the educational needs of the
country. As a result, an increasing number of families and students are looking at
alternative educational opportunities within the region and further abroad.
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOL
Primary education (grades 1-6) is free and compulsory, and offered to children aged 612. The curriculum is geared toward providing permanent literacy, laying a sound basis
for scientific, critical and reflective thinking, and also in equipping children with the core
life skills to function effectively in society.
In 2009, the gross enrollment ratio at the primary level was 89 percent (95 percent male
and 84 percent female) according to UNESCO statistics. The net enrollment rate (as a
percentage of children in the 6-12 age group) was a much lower 61 percent (male
children 64 percent, female children 58 percent) in 2007 (UIS) suggesting that many
students outside of the primary age group are attending primary school. In 2008, the
primary to secondary transition rate was 44 percent, according to the Nigeria
Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) EdData Profile.
Under the new Universal Basic Education (UBE) system of 9-3-4, which replaced the
former universal primary education scheme of 6-3-3-4, students attend six years of
primary school and three years of junior secondary, thus nine years of compulsory and
uninterrupted schooling. This is followed by three years of senior secondary schooling.
Until 2006 entry to junior secondary education was based on the Common Entrance
Examination, but entry is now automatic.
The Junior Secondary School Certificate is awarded at the end of junior secondary
school. Students who pass the Junior Secondary Certificate Examination (JSCE) at the
credit level (see the grading system below) in not less than six subjects may proceed to
senior secondary school (grade 10) at either the same institution, or they may transfer
to another institution of their choice.
Core subjects at the junior secondary level include: English, French, science,
technology, Nigerian language (Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba), mathematics, and social
studies. Students may also choose to study a number of elective subjects. A
prevocational stream is also available to students looking to pursue technical or
vocational training at the senior secondary level.
A majority of senior secondary school students proceed in the academic stream from
junior secondary school. However, there is also a technical stream, in addition to
vocational training outside of the school system, or apprenticeship options offering a
range of terminal trade and craft awards.
Private organizations, community groups, religious bodies, and the federal and state
governments establish and manage secondary schools in Nigeria. All private and public
schools offer the same curriculum but most private schools include theCambridge
International Examination curriculum, which allows students to take the IGSCE
examinations during their final year in high school. It is also important to note that some
private schools offer GCE A-levels, which usually serve as a gap year after graduation
for students that are interested.
The common core curriculum at the senior secondary level consists of: English, one
Nigerian language, mathematics, one science subject, one social science subject, and
agricultural science or a vocational subject. In addition students must take three elective
subjects, one of which may be dropped in the third year.
Students take the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) at the end of grade
12. The Senior Secondary Certificate (SSC) is awarded to successful candidates. The
certificate lists all subjects in which the student is successful. The SSCE replaced the
West African GCE O and A levels in 1989, although those examinations are still
available to students who wish to take them (see above).
The SSC is issued by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) or the National
Examination Council (NECO), depending on the examination board used. An average
grade of ‘credit’ level (C6) or better is required for access to public universities; however
some require higher grades for admission. The standards of the two examinations are
essentially the same. Students register for a maximum of nine and a minimum of seven
subjects, which must include mathematics and English.
A student must get at least a C in English and four other courses relevant to his or her
major in order to sit for the University Tertiary Matriculation Examination. A student
applying for admission to study medicine, computer science or accounting, for example,
will be required to have a minimum of a C in mathematics as well as in English whereas
a student applying for a program in history will not necessarily require a C in
A maximum of nine grades are assigned to each subject in both WAEC and NECO
WASSCE/NECO Confirmation of Results: It is now possible to access student results
through the West African Examinations Council (WAEC)/or National Examination
Council (NECO) websites. The student must provide the PIN number that they purchase
for the equivalent of $3 (available at any post office, bank or WAEC regional office).
With the PIN number it is possible to retrieve a printable copy of their WAEC results.
This is the fastest and most reliable way of verifying a student’s results from Nigeria.
Technical and vocational education is available for graduates of junior secondary
school. A two-tier system of nationally certified programs is offered at science technical
schools, leading to the award of National Technical/Commercial Certificates
(NTC/NCC) and Advanced National Technical/Business Certificates. The lower level
program lasts three years after Junior Secondary School and is considered by the Joint
Admission and Matriculation Board as equivalent to the SSC.
The Advanced program requires two years of pre-entry industrial work experience and
one year of full-time study in addition to the NTT/NCC. The advanced degrees are
typically considered equivalent to an undergraduate degree. All certificates are awarded
by the National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB).
Presently there are 117 universities; 36 federal, 36 state and 45 private universities.
The National Universities Commission (NUC) is the government umbrella organization
that oversees the administration of higher education in Nigeria. The 36 federal
universities and dozens of teaching hospitals and colleges are under its purview. State
governments have responsibility for the administration and financing of the 36 state
universities. The NUC approves and accredits all university programs.
In addition to universities, there are 59 federal and state polytechnic colleges and
several privately owned polytechnics, monotechnics and colleges of education across
the country. These were established to train technical, mid-level manpower and
teachers. Currently, there are plans to upgrade some of these colleges to allow them to
award degrees. The colleges are evaluated and accredited by the National Board for
Technical Education (NBTE). A list of approved polytechnics and other technical
colleges is available here and approved teaching colleges here.
For entrance into a Nigerian institution of higher learning, students are required to take
the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). Each student can choose up to
six institutions: two universities, two polytechnics and two colleges of education at the
point of registration for the examination. The minimum mark required on the UTME for
admission to university is 200 (out of 400). In addition, each institution has cut off marks
for various programs, so a minimum of 200 marks does not guarantee admission,
especially for high-demand programs and institutions. Universities also conduct
additional screening before a final admission decision is made. For the UTME, students
must take exams in English and three subjects related to their proposed major.
All admissions to bachelor degree programs at all Nigerian universities are organized
through the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
According to statistics released by JAMB with the results of the 2011 Unified Tertiary
Matriculation Examination (UTME), federal universities are the preferred choice of a
majority of test takers, followed closely by state universities. Private universities are far
less popular. The University of Lagos was the most popular choice with 99,195
applicants (for 6,106 places), followed by Ahmadu Bello University (89,760), the
University of Nigeria Nsukka (88,177), NnamdiAzikiwe University (84,719) and the
University of Benin (80,976).
The duration of undergraduate programs in Nigerian universities depends largely on the
program of study. Programs in the social sciences, pure sciences and humanities are
typically four years; engineering- and technology-related programs are five years;
architecture, medicine and veterinary science require six years (and have longer
sessions); and law is five years (two semester sessions per year).
Students may take either a single-subject honors degree or combined honors. In the
former, students study three subjects in the first year, two in the second year and one in
the third. In the combined honors program students take three subjects in the first year
and two subjects in both the second and third years. In the fourth year, single subject
honors students take one subject and combined-honors students take at least two
Postgraduate degrees are awarded upon completion of one year of full-time study after
the bachelor degree. These programs are generally offered in education and public
Master’s degrees are typically open to holders of a First or Second Class bachelor
degree and usually require one year of full-time study see grading equivalent below. A
research thesis may be required and if so, the program is typically two years in duration.
Doctoral degrees are open to holders of a master’s degree in a related field and usually
require two to three additional years of study beyond the master’s.
A typical transcript from a Nigerian university should have the student's name,
registration number, year of entry, year of graduation, GPAs, & CGPA, and semester-
by-semester entry of all the completed courses and scores. Transcripts also include the
signature of the Registrar or Deputy Registrar and an official stamp (some
universities may attach student photographs and a university seal to strengthen the
document.) Students are not given copies of their transcript. Universities send all
transcripts directly to requesting institutions.
To verify a Nigerian university transcript, schools are advised to contact Nigerian
universities directly through regular mail or email with addresses that can be found on
their websites or on the NUC website. The EducationUSA Advising centers may also be
able to assist with contact information to facilitate verification of documents from some
Nigerian universities. Some of these universities charge a fee for verification of
transcripts. Charges are based on institutional decisions.
NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY GRADING SYSTEM
5 grade system:
First Class (4.50- 5.00)
Second Class Upper Division (3.50 – 4.49)
Second Class Lower Division (2.40-3.49)
Third Class (1.50 -2.39)
Pass (1.00 – 1.49)
TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL HIGHER EDUCATION
Higher technical education is provided at technical colleges, polytechnics and colleges
of education. Entry to colleges and polytechnics is based on JAMB-administered
entrance examinations combined with results from secondary and vocational schools.
The National Diploma is a two-year program and grants access to Higher National
The Higher National Diploma (HND) is a two-year program that typically requires one
year of work experience after the National Diploma, which is required for admission.
The HND is the equivalent to a university degree and offers access to university
graduate studies. HND graduates may also decide to take a one year postgraduate
diploma certificate before applying for a master’s degree.
Colleges and specialized training institutes offer various certificates and diplomas that
may be obtained after one, two or three years. The Nursing & Midwifery Council of
Nigeria awards the Diploma of Midwifery after one year of theoretic and clinical
postsecondary studies and the Registered Nurse Certificate after three years of
postsecondary study. The Institute of Medical Laboratory Technology awards
theAssociate Diploma of Medical Laboratory Technology and the Fellowship Diplomaon
a 4+1 basis of postsecondary education.
WES GRADING SCALE
Scale 1 Scale 2
U.S. Grade Equivalents
70 - 100
60 - 69
50 - 59
45 - 49
40 - 44** C
0 - 39
** The minimum passing mark may be lower depending on the year of graduation and
Nigerians in the United States: According to the Institute of International Education’s
2010 (IIE) Open Doors report, there were 6,568 Nigerian students enrolled at regionally
accredited U.S. institutions of higher education in academic year 2009/10, making them
the largest national contingent of students from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Educational Advising: The EducationUSA Advising Centers in Abuja and Lagos under
the Public Affairs Section of the United States Embassy serve over 65,000 students per
year in a wide range of programs designed to strengthen student applications and their
readiness for U.S. higher education. We are eager to work with U.S. institutions to help
boost Nigerian enrollments within the U.S. system of higher education. Please contact
the Educational Advisors, in Abuja and Lagos, and refer your Nigerian applicants to us
for any assistance that we can provide. The advising centers host annual College and
Career Fairs in October that attract over 3,000 participants.