Education is a vital instrument for human development. It is a viable tool for the achievement of sustainable development of any economy. The goal of any educational system is to make its citizens individually independent and to contribute meaningfully towards the growth and development of the country. Adult education is one of the models of achieving growth and development in a country. The importance of adult education in achieving the goals of National Policy on Education cannot be stressed (2004). Adult Education gives hope to adults who feel they have come of age to learn the zeal to believe in themselves. Through adult education, awareness on the social, economic, cultural and political environment of an adult is created; and by extension the national growth of a nation. Adult education is a continuation from where the teacher in the formal education stopped. Furthermore it includes vocational, general, enterprise and professional based training essential for the individual and social development of an adult. Adult education in Nigeria is not about an adult’s ability to read and write alone, rather how well the person has contributed to meet the needs of the society (Onyenemezu, 2003). Adult education prepares a person by giving such a person a lifelong knowledge that will assist the person keeps pace with the changing times (Dave, 1973). Lifelong knowledge gained through adult education if applied rightly will assist a country like Nigeria achieves all the stated Millennium Development Goals (Federal Government of Nigeria, 2004). It helps parents and guardians manage the available resources at their disposal to achieve development.

Adult education involves the use of adult human learning materials; it requires patience and tolerance on the part of the teacher. The adult educator is bound to experience insult and stress while impacting knowledge. It is a programme continued to operate mainly as disparate, peace-meal activity that is not integrated into coherent purposeful strategy in pursuit of a relatively development vision (Nnazor, 2005). These discourages the adult educator from discharging his duties, he feels bad over the good he is doing for the learner and society at large.

Moving over to the case of neglect of adult education in Nigeria, it is pertinent to state that it was the Christian missionaries during the colonial era that introduced education in Nigeria. Based on this a commission was set in 1922 to look into the state of education in west and Equatorial Africa, of which Nigeria was included. The report on this stressed the importance of a policy on adult and community education (Fafunwa, 1974). Inasmuch as the youths are educated, adults should not be left out; they should be made literates as well. Though British colonial government issued its first policy in 1925 but it never addressed the issue of adult education except school education, with this the opportunity to promote adult education in Nigeria was missed.

In 1951, a ray of hope was noticed as the Central Board of Education came up with adult education. The policy encouraged teaching of adults the rudiments of primary education and with time it spread throughout the country.

Even after independence in 1960, there have been several National Development Plans, yet provisions have not been made for adult education. The National Policy on Education was modified in 1981 and it only made provision for continuing education, reducing illiteracy and providing lifelong knowledge. With the National Policy on Education, no significant improvement was made on adult education; a clear example is 29 years after the implementation of this policy, the literacy rate of Nigerians from 16 years and above was 68% (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2004). From that time still date, there have not been viable and coherently comprehensive programmes showing government’s support to adult education as one of the means of sustainable development in the country. This stands to show how adult education is abandoned in Nigeria, and this is why this study is carried out for proper investigation of adult education in Nigeria.


Adult education in Nigeria is rarely heard of and that is because the government is doing nothing about reviving it and placing it on the right pedestal. Consequently, there are currently no policy and programme supporting the progress of adult education in Nigeria. As a result of this, adult education is not given the needed attention it requires.

Another problem of adult education in Nigeria is the fact that teachers or educators who teach adult students seem to exhibit lack of patience transferring knowledge. They are easily angered and as a result of this, the adult students are discouraged. They find it difficult to assimilate under such a learning environment and even discourage prospective students from enrolling in it.

These are some of the problems this study aims at seeking solutions to.

1.3   OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY                          

The major objective of this study is to examine adult education in Nigeria: the consequence of neglect agenda for action.

Other specific objectives include:

a)   To examine the significant relationship between adult education and national development of Nigeria.

b)   To investigate adult education as a panacea for high level of illiteracy in Nigeria.

c)   To identify ways government can help resuscitate adult education in Nigeria.

d)   To examine if educators of adult education require a special training to enhance teaching.

e)   To investigate the problems of adult education in Nigeria.


The following research questions are generated to guide this study:

a)   Is there a significant relationship between adult education and national development of Nigeria?

b)   Is adult education a panacea for high level of illiteracy in Nigeria?

c)   What are the ways government can help resuscitate adult education in Nigeria?

d)   Should educators of adult education be enrolled in special training to enhance teaching?

e)   What are the problems of adult education in Nigeria?

1.5   RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS                  

H0:   There are no problems of adult education in Nigeria.

H1:   There are problems of adult education in Nigeria.


This study is meant to educate, inform and enlighten the general public, government and education policy makers on adult education in Nigeria.

It is meant to encourage people who would like to enroll in adult education not to relent in their effort to do so, considering its many benefits.

The study serves as a reminder to the government to look into the issue of adult education and give it the needed support it requires.

Finally, it is important for education policy makers to either advocate or better still come up with policies that will support adult education in Nigeria.

This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this topic and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other work or study.


This study is restricted to adult education in Nigeria: the consequence of neglect agenda for action.

Limitations of study

  1. 1.        Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
  2. 2.        Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.


ADULT: A person who is fully grown or developed.

ADULT EDUCATION: Is a practice in which adults engage in systematic and sustained self–educating activities in order to gain new forms of knowledge, skills, attitudes, or values. It can mean any form of learning adults engage in beyond traditional schooling, encompassing basic literacy to personal fulfillment as a lifelong learner. In particular, adult education reflects a specific philosophy about learning and teaching based on the assumption that adults can and want to learn, that they are able and willing to take responsibility for that learning, and that the learning itself should respond to their needs.

CONSEQUENCE: A result or effect, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant.

NEGLECT: Lack of due care or attention.

AGENDA: A list of items to be discussed at a formal meeting or things to be done.


Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004) National Policy on Education, Abuja Government Printer.

Onyenemezu, E.C. (2003).  Adult education and the challenges of 21st century in Nigeria. Education and practice (3), 1-7.

Dave, R. (1973) Life Long Education and Alcohol, Hamburg: UNESCO, Institute of Education.

Federal Republic of Nigeria (4th ed.) (2004): National policy on education, Lagos: Nigerian Education Research and Development (NERC).

Nnazor (2005) Adult education in Nigeria: The consequence of neglect and agenda for action. (retrieved August 24th 2011).

Fafunwa, B. A. (1974). History of Education in Nigeria. London: George Allen and Unwin.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (2004). Education. Montreal: Institute for Statistics. UNESCO.