Traditionally primary or basic education means the type of education, in quality and conceptthat is given in the first level of education. (UNICEF 1993, Osokoya 2011). The concept of firstlevel of education varies from country to country. In some countries of the world the first levelof education is of 6, 7, 8 or 9 years duration. In western Nigeria for example, the first level of education was of 8 years duration prior to 1955 when it was reduced to six years. In EasternRegion of the country, it remained 8-years until 1976, while the Northern Regional Governmentmaintained a 7-year primary education until 1976. Between 1976 and 1992 however, the scopeof first level of education in Nigeria as a nation was 6 years but this was later expanded to 9years when basic education included the first three years of secondary school education.Education at all levels is of great importance to every nation, developing, developed or under-developed and thus attracts considerable attention over the ages. No doubt, at the family,community, state, and federal government levels, education is discussed, planned andprocessed. Education makes a person for it has a great influence on one
’s values and attitudes.Studies have shown that man’s attitudes, habits; values are gradually acq
uired over timethrough his or her education. No wonder, the United Nations Scientific and CulturalOrganization (UNESCO) once observed that since wars begin in the minds of men it is also in theminds of men that defenses of peace must be constructed. This illustrates the great potentialsof education for transforming the individual and the society.
A constant assessment of a country’s e
ducational programme is considered necessary if thenation is to develop and make progress economically, socially, politically and technologically.This is probably why studies on free universal education particularly at the foundation levelbecame very popular in the last half-century as more and more western colonies gainedpolitical independence. In fact, free universal basic education had become central to the overallproject of planned socio-economic development, modernization and democratization of theThird World nations.This lecture examines the ups and downs in the process of free universal primary/basiceducation i
n the context of Nigeria’s chequered political history and in the light of its