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Projects >  Nigeria

Overview: Nigerian Education Projects

The West African country of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is bordered by Niger in the northChad in the northeastCameroon in the east and Benin in the west with its southern coast on the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean and its northern border in the Sahel. The Republic is comprised of 36 states plus the Federal Capital Territory, where the capital, Abuja, is located. Lagos is the largest city in the country and on the African continent, as well as being one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world.

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with 206 million inhabitants and nearly half of its population is under the age of eighteen. The economy is the largest in Africa worth almost $450 billion in terms of  its GDP but on the World Bank’s Human Development Index it is ranked 158th in the world and it is classified as a lower middle-income economy, with a gross national income per capita of between $1,026 and $3,986.

The country lies between latitudes  and 14°N and longitudes  and 15°E and has a very varied geography and climate.  The far south is defined by its tropical rainforest where annual rainfall is 1,500 to 2,000 mm a year. Coastal plains are found in both the southwest and the southeast and north of that is rainforest.  In the far north is the Sahel region with less than 500 mm of rain per year and encroachment from the Sahara Desert.  Everything in between the far south and the far north is savannah where rainfall is limited to between 500 and 1,500 millimetres per year.  In the dry northeast corner of the country lies Lake Chad, which Nigeria shares with Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

Nigeria has a reputation for corruption of all kinds and at all levels and the country was ranked 136 out of 182 countries in Transparency International's 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Given its very large school-age population and the dire need for development at all levels, the education sector should obviously be high among the country’s priorities and it is true that many agencies including the Federal and State governments, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, DFID and JICA have invested heavily in the sector especially in the construction of education facilities.  The results of this investment have however been very disappointing as will be demonstrated.

In October 2005, I was asked to go to Nigeria to join a team of consultants who would carry out a study of school facilities being provided for basic education ie for primary and junior secondary education.  The study was to take place under the auspices of the Capacity for Universal Basic Education (CUBE) Project that was being managed by the British Council and funded by DFID.

Our task was to carry out an evaluation of the practices affecting school construction and renovation and we were asked in particular to review the modalities that had an impact on school upgrading programmes with particular regard to the design and construction of facilities; planning and budgeting processes; financial disbursement processes; monitoring systems and self-help and poverty alleviation. 

The study showed that all school renovation and construction programmes whether carried out by the States, Federal agencies or Development Partners suffered from a number of serious deficiencies including: lack of educational planning criteria in selecting schools; lack of transparency in bidding processes; use of unqualified contractors; political interference; poor quality of designs and documentation and a lack of competent supervision and monitoring all of which had led to very poor standards of renovation and construction which together with the almost complete lack of maintenance was greatly reducing the useful lives of many educational facilities.  For more details of the study see the section on the Capacity for Universal Basic Education Project.

In 2008, the World Bank was preparing the State Education Sector Project (SESP) for implementation in a number of States.  This project built on the experience gained in the implementation of the CUBE Project and one of the main components of the project was to be the construction of school facilities for basic education.  A firm of architects based in Abuja had been commissioned by CUBE to prepare designs for single-storey prototype school facilities to be used in all of the project States and I was asked to carry out desk reviews of the designs and to assist the consultants in finalising them.

The schools were fairly simple in design with concrete foundations and floor slabs, rendered blockwork walls, steel roof structures finished with aluminium roof sheets with ceilings that followed the slope of the roofs and steel doors and shutters.  For details of the designs and of my reviews see the section on the State Education Sector Project. A number of schools constructed under the SESP project and which used these designs were visited during the review carried out under the Education Sector Support Programme in 2010 (see below).

In June and July 2010, I went to Nigeria to carry out a review of the cost of construction and the quality of facilities for basic education that had been constructed by various agencies in Kano, Kaduna and Kwara States.  The review was to be carried out under the aegis of the Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN) which was a six-year education development programme being funded by DFID and managed by Cambridge Education Consultants.

The objective of the assignment was to conduct a comparative review of construction costs of the basic education facilities that had been built in the previous 5 years in Kano, Kwara and Kaduna States.  In addition to researching the costs of the facilities, the review was to take into account the appropriateness of the designs being used, the suitability of the materials that had been specified, the quality of construction and the cost and effectiveness of supervision.  A comparison was also to be made with the construction costs of similar facilities in other sub-Saharan African countries.

The findings of the study were almost identical to those of the one carried out earlier under the CUBE Project in that it was found that there was a: lack of educational planning criteria in selecting schools; a lack of transparency in bidding processes; use of unqualified contractors; political interference; poor quality of designs and documentation; use of poor quality materials and a lack of competent supervision and monitoring all of which was resulting in the very low standards of construction.

 

For more details of the study see the section on the Education Sector Support Programme.

The overall picture gained from both the studies was very depressing as there seemed to be no political will either at Federal or State level to provide the nation’s children with the good quality educational facilities that they needed and deserved.  It seems very likely that this is still the case and is no doubt behind the exponential growth of private schools that cater for those children whose parents have the money to pay their children’s school fees.  This means of course that those children whose parents cannot afford the fees will be left behind to struggle on in inadequate and sometimes dangerous facilities.

Another factor that became evident in both studies was that there did not appear, unfortunately, to be many young architects who were interested in the design and construction of good quality, low-cost educational and other civil facilities particularly for the rural areas; most appeared to be only interested in going to the cities where they could design flashy commercial buildings and expensive private houses.  It should not be left to outsiders working for the donors to take on this role and young architects, not only in Nigeria but in all of the developing world, should realise how interesting the design of simple and appropriate buildings can be and the sense of personal fulfilment that such work can give to the committed architect and this web-site has been largely designed to show that this indeed can be the case.

See the photo gallery below that shows some of the design failures such as the lack of roof overhangs, roof overhangs too small to protect walls and windows, parapet walls at roof gables that are too small, cupboards in window walls blocking light in classrooms, etc that were seen in the schools visited and a second photo gallery shows some of the construction failures, such as poor quality roof sheets, poor quality sandcrete blocks, concrete and screed being badly mixed, poor quality doors and shutters, etc that were also seen.

Design Failures Gallery

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Design Failures Gallery

Construction Failures Gallery

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Construction Failures Gallery
Projects in Nigeria
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