Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Associate Professor Jan Gray

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Glenda Campbell-Evans


Nigeria’s first nationwide ‘free and compulsory’ primary schooling was introduced in the 1970s with the Universal Primary Educational policy. This policy was engulfed by chaos during its implementation, which invariably left behind many school-age children nationwide (Denga, 2000). The ushering of the democratic dispensation in 1999 witnessed the launch of a new scheme that came to be known as ‘Universal Basic Education’ (UBE). It is over a decade now since this new programme was implemented, yet there has been little demonstrated success or achievement. Although the programme was designed to address sectoral issues such as access to education, student retention, equity and education quality enhancement, the issue of access remains the biggest challenge. Access to basic education among Nigerian children of school age is still at the low level of 60%. More than eight million children of school age (six to 15 years) are still not in school (NUT, 2008; UBEC, 2004). The hope of meeting the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which aim to achieve compulsory universal basic education for all children by 2015, is in serious doubt in Nigeria because of the issue of access.

It was against this background that this study investigated the bureaucratic structure of the UBE at the system level of policy implementation, and how this has affected access to UBE in Nigeria. This study used document analysis and interviews with the bureaucrats responsible for policy implementation in two geo-political zones and the Federal Capital Territory to assess how the level of alignment has affected the achievement of UBE implementation at the federal, state and district levels. It became evident from the data that the challenge of access in UBE implementation is attributable to bureaucratic and political issues. This study informs understandings of how education policy implementation operates in Nigeria. This study addresses the gap in the literature regarding the implementation of education policy and its effect on UBE policy. Recommendations have been developed for UBE implementation that seek to enable enhanced access to education among Nigerian children.

Included in

Education Commons


Paper Location