The University is planning to establish a
According to Shaplin, there will be no entrance exams to the new school, and students will represent "a cross-section of interests and aptitudes." They will have a choice between "practical, vocational, and general" courses of study, prefaced by a two-year "hard core" of general education. Guidance counselors will route students into appropriate channels on the basis of early performance.
System is New to Nigerians
This "comprehensive" pattern of secondary school education, familiar in the U.S. and Britain, is unknown in Nigeria. Most students drop out of school after six years or less of primary schooling. Only a small group pass a stiff exam and reach secondary school. The successful few then separate into "classical," trade, or teacher-training schools.
Dean Monro called Harvard's participation in the project "one of the nicest things that has happened to us in years. The 'comprehensive' idea is an essential part of democracy," he added, pointing out that such a system eliminates "elites" and the "tremendous strain of having to prove yourself at age eleven."
Although the formal contract awaits signing, Shaplin explained that a "letter contract" permits him to proceed with preliminaries. He has already hired an American principal and most of the eight American teachers who will begin work next January. Harvard and Newton will send over, and AID will finance, school supplies and a staff of educational specialists. An additional five teachers from the U.S. will join the staff in the second year of operation.
Western Nigeria has agreed to put up an equal number of teachers, plus the cost of construction and school equipment.
Shaplin noted that within a few years Western Nigeria is expected to assume control over policy and administration of the school, the Harvard-Newton staff becoming entirely advisory.