Living in Nigeria?
Transportation and Education in Nigeria
A word of warning: it is probably best if expats do not actively participate in traffic at all. The poor state of the roads and the break-neck driving style of many Nigerians can make even life as a pedestrian adventurous, to say the least. Missing manhole covers and large potholes in the middle of the street are a Nigerian reality, and considerate driving is more or less unheard of.
Nigerian cars generally match the quality of Nigerian streets: They probably wouldn’t be considered roadworthy in most countries. As a general rule, any vehicle that runs – however badly – is considered a reasonable form of transport, be it in bumper-to-bumper city traffic or on the overused, fatality-prone highways.
Apart from the potential hazards mentioned above, police roadblocks are very common outside of the city limits. Usually, you will be able to continue on your way after handing over a small bribe (or a larger one, should your counterpart decide that you committed a random “violation” of sorts). This can be quite intimidating, especially at night, as the officers will invariably be heavily armed. You are never in any kind of danger, but the sight of large guns alone can make many expats rather nervous.
Of course, this does not mean you should become a shut-in. Rental cars come with a driver; these experienced chauffeurs are skilled in bringing you to your destination, and they know how to deal with the aforementioned roadblocks. Their driving style is obviously as bold as the others’, though, so don’t forget to buckle up.
The easiest and safest way into Nigeria is via plane. The country has four international airports: Murtala Mohammed in Lagos, Aminu Kano in Kano, Nnamdi Azikiwe in Abuja, and Port Harcourt International Airport. The first is the country’s main hub. It is likely the first destination of many expats, if only for a changeover. The very popular flights are offered daily, sometimes several times a day.
There is the possibility of traveling by sea, but this option is often risky, not common, and not recommended. The overland roads lead through some countries that are routinely in a state of unrest and may thus be closed. Generally, traveling into Nigeria by car is to be considered more of an off-road experience, but there are, of course, also some roads of reasonable quality. Some of the border checks can be very slow, though.
Nigeria’s education system was introduced in the colonial era by the British, and it is still heavily influenced by the UK system. Six years of primary education are compulsory in Nigeria. Starting from the age of six, pupils are taught math, English, religious studies, science, and one of the three main languages of the country. Secondary school, another six years, is offered by a variety of federal, state-owned, and private institutions. Higher education can be undertaken at Nigeria’s many universities and polytechnic colleges.
The reality of education in Nigeria, however, is less rosy. Due to underfunding and less than motivated staff, the state of many schools and the general quality of education are rather poor. According to the World Bank’s World Development Indicators 2014, around 76% of children in Nigeria complete primary education, but only two-thirds of Nigerians aged between 15 and 24 (66%) can read and write. These figures are as much as 20% lower than other countries of a similar development-level. Many wealthy Nigerian parents tend to send their children to international schools in Nigeria or boarding schools abroad.
Expats with children might want to enroll their kids in one of the country’s international schools, which are quite common in popular expat areas. A comprehensive list can be found on the website of the Association of International Schools in Africa.
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