Public vs private schools in Nigeria

Written by Deni - July 14, 2021 | Updated May 15, 2023
Public vs private schools in Nigeria
Public vs private schools in Nigeria

In Nigeria, from nursery school to university, a child can either attend public or private school. The decision to attend either public or private schools is made after considering a number of factors. This post examines whether private schools are better than public schools in Nigeria. The evaluation is particularly on the nursery, primary, and secondary schools.


Public schools in this context are schools owned by the government of Nigeria. Public schools are directly administered and controlled by the Ministry of Education and maintained by its minister. Private schools on the other hand are owned by either individuals or private bodies or groups. In broad terms, private schools do not depend on the Government’s Education administration and funding. Most private schools are also referred to as ‘non-contract’ schools since no contract binds them to the government.


Once upon a time, public schools were the standard in Nigeria due to the impact of missionaries. However, when the government took over academic power from the missionaries, the value of public schools gradually declined. There was a gradual decrease in the quality of learning and then the allocated budget for education began to dwindle. Under these circumstances, private schools were bound to be a competition for public schools.

Public vs Private schools in Nigeria

Standard and quality of education of public vs private schools in Nigeria

Generally, the standard and quality of education in private schools beats that of public schools. This is due to the fact that the government in a way has neglected the educational needs of its schools. Most private schools on the other hand take extra care to employ qualified teachers who are closely monitored. This is why many parents prefer their children attend private schools.

School fees

Exorbitant tuition fees are peculiar with private schools. Even the cheapest of the private schools is above the financial strength of so many poor families. Hence, only children from wealthy backgrounds attend private schools.

Freedom of operation

Private schools unlike their public counterparts in Nigeria enjoy total educational freedom. They decide what teaching methods and timetables to use without any interference from the government. They also decide what students to admit and what teachers to recruit. They are not obliged to keep students who are of questionable character as is sometimes the case with public schools.

Students in private schools can easily change schools if necessary. The teachers know this fact and this pushes them to give the best of themselves. Students in public schools, however, may not find it easy to change schools. This gives the teachers the confidence to do as they please.

Training facilities in public vs private schools in Nigeria

For effective teaching and learning to take place, facilities such as textbooks, teaching aids, libraries, laboratories, etc., are necessary. While private schools ensure these facilities are adequately provided for, many public schools do not. Sometimes, such facilities are obsolete in most public schools.


Private schools have always maintained the globally recommended class size standard of a teacher to a pupil/student ratio of 1:25. The numbers of students are small and the teachers are attentive. The students can benefit from an individualised follow-up. Sadly, the teacher-to-student ratio in public schools ranges from 1:122 to 1:114. With this large number, it is impossible for the teacher to be effective. The teacher may not be able to reach out to all students and meet their individual learning needs.

Strike actions

Private schools do not belong to any labour unions and as a result, do not participate in strike actions. This has helped them to maintain the academic calendar. Public schools belong to various labour unions and often participate in strike action to make their demands.

In conclusion, private schools are better than public schools in Nigeria currently. However, things may change for the better in the future.

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