September 22, 2023

Instructional Alignment in Nigeria using the Surveys of Enacted Curriculum

Systematic, quantitative evidence on education system coherence is limited. Prior research has indicated alignment of instructional components, such as curriculum standards, assessments, and teachers’ instruction, is important for children’s learning. This study uses the Surveys of Enacted Curriculum methodology to investigate alignment of instructional components in Nigeria’s primary education system. The study analyzes curriculum standards, national exams, and classroom instructional content for mathematics and English language across all six primary-level grades. We find that key foundational mathematics and English language skills are covered by all three components, with some notable omissions on the end-of-cycle English language exams. All three components give high emphasis to the low cognitive demand processes of ‘memorize’ ‘perform’, and ‘demonstrate’, and give very low emphasis to the more demanding cognitive processes of ‘analyze’ and ‘apply to non-routine situations’. Both the curriculum standards and classroom instruction depict a slow pace of content progression across grades, manifested through broad but shallow content coverage. The high alignment suggests the potential for a well-functioning education system, however, low student performance in mathematics and English language exams suggest otherwise. The findings suggest the Nigerian primary education system may be operating in a low-achieving equilibrium in which the system is aligned for low levels of cognitive demand and student mastery.

This Working paper was first published here .

Authors: Adedeji Adeniran, Sixtus Onyekwere, Anthony Okon, Julius Atuhurra, Rastee Chaudhry and Michelle Kaffenberger