Harvard to Found School in Nigeria

The University is planning to establish a high school in Aiyetoro, Nigeria, the learned yesterday.

Monday the Corporation gave the Graduate of Education the go-ahead on final contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), a co-sponsor of the pilot project Western Nigerian government.

next January to 240 students from seven grade" classes in Western Nigeria, the new will incorporate U.S., British, and Swedish of education, and serve as a model for a Nigerian secondary school system.

for the program were drawn up jointly by from the Ed School and the Newton school , and by B. Somade, Western Nigeria's Chief of Education. Judson T. Shaplin, associate of the Ed School, is director of the experiment.

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.