Kwara and Ekiti States are two integral States in Nigeria. Kwara State was created from the defunct Northern Region of Nigeria in 1967 while Ekiti State was created from the Old Ondo State in South-West Nigeria in 1996. Although informal education had been going on in both States since ancient times, formal education started with the arrival of the European Christian Missionaries in 1882. Their arrival saw the establishment of primary schools. The number of public primary schools in Kwara State rose from 220 in 1996 to 651 in 2005 (Kwara State Ministry of Education, 2006) while in Ekiti State the number of public primary schools increased from 260 in 1996 to 694 in 2005 (Ekiti State Ministry of Education, 2006).
The enrolment of pupils in the schools also increased considerably during the same period. Pupils' enrolment in public primary schools rose to 542,475 in Kwara State in 2005 while in Ekiti State it increased to 463,862 during the same period. In the same vein, the number of teachers in public primary schools in Kwara State increased to 20,850 in 2005 while in Ekiti State it rose to 15,780 during the same period.
The number of private primary schools in Kwara State rose to 160 in 2005 while that of Ekiti State increased to 116 during the same period. Pupils' enrolment in private primary schools in Kwara State increased to 112,920 in 2005 while that of Ekiti State rose to 60,580 during the same period. The number of teachers in private primary schools in Kwara State rose to 4,010 in 2005 (Kwara State Ministry of Education, 2006) while that of Ekiti State increased to 2,150 during the same period (Ekiti State Ministry of Education, 2006).
The rise in the number of primary schools in the two States as well as the explosion in pupils' enrolment might have been due to the introduction of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) in 1999. Although the federal government of Nigeria had launched the Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1976, the scheme failed because of problems of insufficient funding, limited infrastructure, inadequate number of teachers and poor management (Bassey and Archibong, 2001; Olubor and Unyimadu 2001; Adeniji, 2003).
The UBE was the result of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which stipulated the right of every citizen in the world to education. Every member nation of the United Nations including Nigeria was signatory to this declaration. Nigeria was also signatory to a number of international educational agreements on basic education including the 1990 Jomtien declaration and framework for action on basic education for all (Jomtien Conference, 1990); the 1991 New Delhi declaration on the R-9 countries (i.e. the nine countries with the largest concentration of illiterates) together with those held in Racife, Brazil in January 2000 on a massive reduction of illiteracy in those countries (Obanya, 2000).
The aim of primary school education in Nigeria is to grant children free access to education. It is to expose children to positive learning experiences that will help them earn a living. It aims at providing the child with basic skills in reading and writing as well as numerical skills within the first six years of schooling. These skills would provide them with the ability to lead a meaningful life and contribute to the development of their society at the conclusion of their education (FGN, 2004). Towards this end, the Kwara and Ekiti State governments intended to direct their policies towards increasing enrolment of pupils at school and ensuring that there are equal educational opportunities at all levels. The problem, however, is that of getting the required number of teachers to teach in the schools.
Notwithstanding, it needs to be mentioned that an approved norm of 1.5 teachers per class of 25 pupils is used in the two States to compute the number of teachers required in each school (Kwara State Government, 1992; Ekiti State Government, 1996). …