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Background Of The Study

        Education is the pillar of any nation, society or community. The future of any nation is therefore determined by the quality of its education. According to Caste (2004), Education is all that goes on in society, which involves teaching and learning. He added that education is the way the individual acquires many physical, moral and social capacities demanded of him by the group into which he is born and within which he must function. According to Plato, Education is that training which is given for suitable habits to the first instincts of virtue in children, when pleasure and pain are rightly implanted in non – rational souls. The particular training in respect of pleasure and pain, which leads you to hate and love what you ought to hate and love is called education.

According to Okorie (2005) He maintained that illiteracy is a disease but  we cannot fight ignorance  and illiteracy if we do not collectively appreciate and value education.

        Education is one of the most important factors that distinguish man from animals, since it is one of the principal outcome of man’s rationality, Ezenwa (2007).

Free education is that level of education that involves no cost of receiving education or fees, Akinkugbe (2002). Thus free education means free provision of educational facilities to student and pupils. In other words it is the provision of education that bears no cost or burden on the consumer (pupils and students). He maintained that the cost referred to should be the cost of instructions and instructional materials (textbooks, and writing materials). The term free education therefore means government provision of free boarding, feeding, text books, stationery, school uniform. According to Caste (2004) a free education mean’s free provision of all that it takes for a child to be educated.

Education is free and compulsory when it is a must for all citizens of a society. Something is compulsory when it is imposed, Barde (2004).Compulsory education is therefore a necessity for all ages and accommodates everybody. It means that enough place, personnel and infrastructural facilities must be made available, while the eradication of any form of obstacles that may hinder one or a member of the society from taking the advantage of the very opportunity is assured.

        Educational development can be defined as a qualitative increase in nature and organizational structure of education  or it is a qualitative increase and promotion in educational activities, Ugwu (1997).

Down through the ages, significant developments have been witnessed in the areas or field of education. Before 1925, the mission of education in Nigeria was not clear, Education was entirely an exclusive enterprise for the missions and voluntary agencies. Government involvement was limited to an insignificant amount of money given to voluntary agencies such as grants in aid Igboke (2001).

        Ebonyi State created on 1st October 1996 is recognized as one of the educationally disadvantaged states in Nigeria, not only that it is educationally disadvantaged it is also a poor state.

        Barde (2004) states that “prior to the advent of democracy in the country which took effect from 29th May, 1999, many sectors were in sorry state”. Educational sector was not exclusive of this sad story.  According to Barde (2004), before the advent of free and compulsory education programme in Ebonyi State, the rate of pupils/ students element were very low, parents and guardians were not interested in sending their children especially female children to school. This is because they were generally poor and could not afford to pay school fees and levies of their children at school. Thus, schools were like treated with levity. The people fortunate enough to enter primary and secondary school level could not have enough money to further their education.

        The conditions of schools from 1996 to 1999 were very pathetic and there were limited number of schools. In these schools one could find dilapidated school buildings. There were no adequate educational  and instructional materials. The learning environments were not conducive for effective learning and the numbers of teachers were small in comparison to the available number of students before the enactment of free and compulsory primary and secondary education policy on 16th June, 1999.

        Ebonyi State government has the feeling of poor state of education in the state. The Governor of the state stated after observing the situation according to Barde (2004) “our younger ones were not pround to admit that they are from this part of the country. They are used to referring to themselves as people from Onitsha, Owerri and other developed areas or towns. He further stated that the only way to reduce this situation is the introduction of free and compulsory education by the State Government. In 1999 under the leadership of Dr. Sam Ominyi Egwu, the free and compulsory education was introduced at both primary and secondary school levels.

        Since 1999, till date, the situation of education in the state has never been the same. There is an increase in school enrolment both at primary and secondary school levels. Following the increase in school enrolment, new buildings were constructed and old ones renovated. According to Edeze (2003), “from the time the administration came into being till October 2001 for instance, about 79 primary school buildings consisting of 400 rooms have been built across the state. He also stated that 13 primary schools, have buildings either reconstructed or renovated under the education tax fund intervention programme of the government. More teachers were also recruited. For instance, 1000 teachers and 200 non – teaching staff were recruited in 2001,Alumode (2002).

        According to Fafunwa (1974), “in establishment of free education into the state, there is education implication, which is a fall in the quality and standard of education. Also, students are deprived the opportunity to seek first hand information for themselves, resulting from the fact that there are no well equipped libraries and science laboratories”.

        The educational implication of inadequate classroom is disproportionate ratio of teachers to students. Teachers are over loaded. This teachers over load, results to ineffective teaching and poor management of classroom. Another resultant affect is poor performance of students, which emanates from inadequate teaching staff, poorly equipped libraries and science laboratories. All these have educational implication of increased education opportunities, but increased moral decadence of the country.

Statement of the Problem

The problem of this study is mainly on the effect of free and compulsory primary and secondary educational development in Ebonyi State. According to Barde (2004), Ebonyi state was regarded as a poor and one of the educationally disadvantaged states in Nigeria. The nature of its poorness was such that children could not be sent to school. The few ones that attended primary school could not find their way to secondary school. According to Akinkugbe (2002) one would see that the rate of school enrolment both at primary and secondary school were very low. There were not enough teachers. Thus, schools were like ghost places and education was generally taken for granted. With the introduction of free and compulsory primary and secondary education in the State, it is expected that all these situations will be ameliorated. On this note, therefore the researcher intends to investigate the impact which free and compulsory education has created in primary and secondary schools in Ebonyi state.

Purpose of the Study.

        The main purpose of this study is to identify the extent of  free and compulsory primary and secondary education in Ebonyi state and its contribution to educational development in the state. Specifically, the purposes of this study are:

1      To find out the rate of school  enrolment in both primary and secondary school levels.

2      To find out the extent of availability of qualified teachers in the schools.

3      To determine the extent to which classroom are made available to accommodate the available school children.

4      To find out the effects of free and compulsory education on students performance in certificate examination.

Significance of the Study.

        The findings of this study will be of great benefit to the parents, government and the society as a whole who are very much concerned about the effect of free education. The result of the study will create awareness in the minds of parents and governments concerning those effects of free and compulsory education.

        It will provide the Ministry of Education with information that will enable it carry out its functions in recruitment of teachers and staffs, equipping government with informations that will help in school development, monitoring of education as well as dissemination of educational information in both urban and rural areas of the state very effectively and efficiently.

        Both school head teachers, students and parents will benefit from this study as they will appreciate the meaning of free education and unanimously, support it.

The government is not left out; the programme will reveal the extent to which the aims and objectives of the programme have been achieved. This will enable it take adequate measures towards improving its weaknesses.

        Finally, the result of the programme will arouse the interest of students of education who may wish to take further research on the issue.

Research Question

        For the purpose of this study, the following research questions would be answered.

1      To what extent does free and compulsory education increase school enrolment in both primary and secondary school in the state.

2      To what extent does free and compulsory primary and secondary education programme lead to availability of qualified teachers in Ebonyi state primary and secondary schools.

3      To what extent has free and compulsory education  resulted to increased number of classrooms, school libraries and science laboratories and equipment in the state primary and secondary schools in the state?

4      To what extent has free and compulsory primary and secondary education influenced student performance in certificate examinations?

Scope of the Study.

        The research study covers the effect of free and compulsory education programme in Ebonyi state under the administration of Dr, Sam Egwu.

        It covers the geographical entity called Ebonyi state which is located at south East of Nigeria.

        It also covers the education boards in the state such as Ebonyi State Ministry of education, and the Universal Basic Education Board (UBEB).

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