Our Students from Nigeria

Our Students from Nigeria

Family Life in Nigeria

Most households are composed of a mother, father and children, and many include grandparents, uncles, and aunts as well. Many houses are compound houses with people of different tribes and religions living there. This is more common among the less privileged families of Nigerian society. In most cases the father has the primary responsibility for care of the whole family in Nigeria. In some instances, working mothers in Nigeria supplement the family income. Typically the mother cares for the children and the home while the father works outside the house. Decision making authority is held by the father in Nigeria. In some less traditional households, mothers may have more authority when the father is not around. Women cook for the family in Nigeria. In some families boys may cook occasionally. In most families in Nigeria, children eat separately from the adults. The wealthy and even lower to middle class families hire house help as labor is very inexpensive in Nigeria.

Teen Life: Teens are accustomed to enjoying free time and individual time to themselves. Many parents are not made aware of what their children are doing, or where they are in their free time. In Nigeria, formal interaction with parents is expected in the home. Teens are at ease amongst each other and with their mothers however, the father is generally feared. In less traditional families, fathers interact much more easily with all family members. Teens may be informal amongst their siblings. Sharing is common with many small items, and in many instances no permission is required to use something belonging to another.

Responsibilities: Students receive an allowance to be spent on necessities like books and food at school and clothing. Families with very low incomes will not give pocket money to their children. Some students sell items on behalf of the family to contribute to family income.

Parental Involvement: Some less traditional Nigerian parents are in direct contact with their children’s school and are kept aware of their academic progress however many do not take great interest. Internet use is not often monitored by parents in Nigeria and teens enjoy unrestricted access at the internet cafes. Most parents allow their children to plan their own activities and will provide spending money for these activities if needed. Parents have the final say on all decisions involving their children, and teens take advice given as their final course of action. Corporal punishment is common in Nigerian homes.

Pets: Some Nigerian families keep pets such as cats and dogs however, most do not. If a family does have pets they are typically kept outside. It is more common for dogs to be either wild dogs or used as guard dogs.

Personal Interactions

Mixed Gender Socializing: It is generally frowned upon by Nigerian parents if their children socialize with the opposite gender, especially one-on-one. Some less traditional parents will allow it, but with a warning to avoid anything that may cause a disgrace.

Friendships: Nigerian teenagers sometimes socialize in groups, and sometimes one-on-one. Both ways are considered appropriate, and the choice is left up to the individual. Students make friends at school, through common activities and in the neighborhood. Friendship is taken very seriously in Nigeria and students will typically have one or two very close or intimate friends and a few others that are very casual. It is not common to share money amongst friends in Nigeria, but some do share when the friendship is very close.

Communication Styles: Communication is indirect in Nigeria and parents often have to question their children many times before the true nature of a situation or concern is discovered. Teens will sometimes hide negative emotions from their parents out of fear of punishment because it is seen as disrespectful to display anger or dissent.

Eye Contact: Teenagers do not make eye contact with elders in Nigeria as it is considered as a sign of disrespect.


Classes: Student grades in Nigeria are assessed through homework, in-class tests and exams. Students remain in one classroom while teachers rotate. While some schools are all boy or all girl schools, the majority are coed and girls and boys are not seated apart. Students in the same class take the same predetermined subjects. Students are posted to Science, Commerce or Arts classes based on their strengths during junior secondary school (Jr High). Subject choice is mostly done by school authorities. Some science students that are very good in mathematics are allowed to offer additional/further mathematics as a choice.

School Relationships: Students have a formal relationship with their teachers in Nigeria. Students address teachers as Sir or Ma. Students do not say the name of their teacher.

Extracurricular Activities: Some schools have extracurricular opportunities for their students, and many friends are made through these activities. Extracurricular activities include: sports, reading club, debating society, music club, drama group, etc.

School Rules and Attire: No cell phones are allowed in school and fighting attracts severe punishment or suspension from school. Corporal punishment in school is common and accepted Students wear uniforms to school. Type of uniform varies from school to school and from region to region. In Islamic areas, girls are required to wear hijab. For boys, it is mostly a shirt or kaftan (traditional long robe) and pants. In some schools, boys wear caps as part of their uniform. These may be berets or traditional hats, but not baseball caps. Uniforms for girls could be skirts or pants with shirts. In some schools, girls also may wear berets.

Returning from Exchange: Students rarely repeat a class after the exchange year. They move on to SS3, which is the equivalent of Grade 12.

Food and Culture

Religion: Attending religious services is a family and community event in Nigeria and is important among both Muslim and Christian families. Eid is a public holiday and is celebrated with feasting and visits to relatives. Muslim students fast during Ramadan.

Holidays: The following holidays are celebrated: Eid al-Fitr, Kabir, Mawlid an-Nabi, Christmas, Easter, New Year, Independence Day, Workers Day, Children’s Day, Democracy Day.

Guest Culture: Guests are expected to accept food or drink offer. Such offers may be done several times until the person accepts.

Lunch and Diets: Portions are large for Men and boys because they are considered to be physically active and engage in strenuous activities and therefore assumed to need more food. Eating of leftover meals is common. Students are used to hot or cold lunches. Most boys are not used to packing their own lunch.

Personal Hygiene

Typically in Nigeria students take one or two quick showers a day. In Nigeria, students generally aren’t responsible for cleaning or tidying the bathroom after they’ve used it. Many students in Nigeria do not have towels and simply air dry. It is generally thought to be unclean to wear the same clothes two days in a row however it is not uncommon amongst poorer families. Clothes may be worn twice without washing them as long as they are not visibly dirty.

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