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Dozie Ethelbert 0


Prior to the European contact with Nigeria and some other parts of Africa, the basic and elementary teachings were those of tradition, language, and culture.

Before one becomes matured, there were some values and skills necessary for the person to have acquired.

So we can say that before the European introduction of western education, we have had an informal education from our cultural backgrounds.

Before the Europeans came to Nigeria, there has been Islam religion practiced in the north. The Islamic religion came to the northern region much earlier than Christianity; say 9th century. In the 16th century, the religion became wide spread across this region; they attended mosques and read Koran. There was likely establishment of Koranic centers between the 14th and 15th centuries.

The prior knowledge of culture was the basis for the introduction of western education.


History of western education in Nigeriai



Western education in Nigeria would have its traces to 1842 with the commencement of primary schools which was solely in the control of early Christian missionaries. Lagos, Calabar and other coastal cities were the major areas of start up. Their basic interest was in teaching the English language. These schools were run and managed according to the philosophies and doctrines of the missionary in-charge.
The missionaries available at the time were; Church Missionary Society (CMS), Wesley Methodist, and the Catholic.

Secondary education subsequently followed suit on 6th June 1859 with the establishment of CMS Grammar school, Bariga, Lagos. It was not really clear as to the reasons for the delay in establishment of secondary schools, but insinuations would rather have it that they were not willing to groom critical thinkers who would come to challenge their intentions and views.

British colonial system did not interfere with the educational system due to some political and financial factors until 1872 when they began to give small donations and supports to the missionary schools.

There was an ‘education-ordinance’ made in 1882; a document which gave government the control to run schools. This was their first act of operating schools. This was when the schools were classified into Government and Private schools. The Government schools were funded and run through public funds while private schools received a little funding from the public fund, the greater part of the sponsorship was handled by private funding.

As education progressed in Nigeria, ‘the education-ordinance’ became complicated to implement for the average Nigerian child due its curriculum, medium of communication and method. The ordinance failed and a new one came up in 1887. This new ordinance was seen as the first colonial government effective effort to aid education in Nigeria. Though this was only effective in some parts of Lagos.

More foreign teachers were employed, more schools established, missions and voluntary organizations received more funds and privates interested in education were encouraged to do so.
The Governor General of Nigeria, Lord Fredrick Lugard after amalgamation set up new ideas. These ideas were what formed the major part of the 1916 ordinance. This ordinance was enacted on the 21st of December, 1916. This ordinance captured the whole country since it came to be after amalgamation.

The western form of education had received a lot of resistance in the northern part of the country from both the colonial government and missionaries. Lord Lugard tried convincing the leaders in the north that western education wasn’t going to affect the Islamic traditions which was of high practice in the north.

By 1914, there were already over 35,700 pupils in the south, while the north had a little over 1000.
This encouraging acceptance of Western education in the south lead to the travelling abroad of first sons of distinguished upbringings for more advanced education. The system of education at that time focused strongly on examinations.

In 1932, the first higher institution in Nigeria was established, that was the Yaba Higher College. It was established in 1932, but began studies in 1934.
In The University College of London (present day University of Ibadan) started; it started with an admission of 104 students. It regained its autonomy after independence.
As at 1962, the number of universities rose to five. More prestigious universities were opened immediately after independence, they included;
• University of Nigeria
• Ahmadu Bello University and
• University of Lagos


Between the 1970s and 1980s, a reasonable number of higher institutions were established. As at 1980, statistics has it that the number of students in primary school was about 12 million, 1.2 million for secondary school and 240,000 for the university level.





There was significant importance of western education in the socio-political economy of Nigeria; this made education to be a huge programme for government at all levels. Some states had as high as 40% of their budget on educational sector.

By mid 1980s, there were over 13 million pupils attending over 35,000 public primary schools across the country. Secondary schools had over 3 million students in 6,500 schools while tertiary students of 125,000 attended both 35 colleges and universities.

It was projected that the early years of the next century would bring about universal basic education at this time.
There were already 35 military colleges, polytechnics, states and federal universities, colleges of education and colleges of agriculture. The total enrollment of those institutions would be put at 200,000 (this was less than 1% of the population between the ages of 20-30).
Literacy level in Nigeria today would be rated at 64%, male 71% while female 57% (Wikipedia; 2011). The basis of this assertion was done with the number of people who could speak in English.






The present day educational system of Nigeria is in quagmire, and this down turn began between the 80s and 90s.

The major reasons to these set-backs have been, poor maintenance of the available schools due to lack of funding and mismanagement, shortage of well equipped teachers due to the irregularities involved in the payment of salaries.

In tertiary institutions as at today, had experienced some corrupt means of admitting unqualified candidates in place of qualified ones, there have also been shortage of funding to maintain and create more space for learning, thereby leading to overcrowding and increase of tuition fee at times had led to incessant strikes or either as a result of staff demanding a better pay and working environment.

With this huge set back in the educational sector in the country, one would wonder how Nigeria would be able to equip its teaming graduates with the necessary tools essential for survival and effective competition in this 21st century.

The massive decline has led to poor graduates who lack the effective tools essential for taking the next step.
Needless to say that the Europeans left a strong educational foundation in Nigeria, this has lead to a very firm stay of education.

The federal government needs to take drastic decision and policies that would salvage the situation of the educational system of Nigeria.

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