History of Education in Nigeria.

History of Education in Nigeria.

History of Education is the systematic and comprehensive study of the educational development of a society that took place in the past which is relevant to the present for the future improvement of the system of education in the society. In other words, History of Education in Nigeria is the account of the Educational practices of the past at various levels,  taking into consideration the strengths and weakness in the past,  in relation to the educational system of the present ( Indigenous system of education, Islamic system of Education and Western system of Education in Nigeria ) so as to be able build a better Educational system for the future.

Indigenous system of education first and foremost which is  home training or lesson taught and receive from both parent and elders in society. In Africa or Nigeria culture there is a way thing are done, how to behaved, how to speak, how to dress, decent dressing. How to greet. How to eat. And respect for elder ones. In form of moral teaching that implies you must be useful and discipline, and possess a well balance behaviour in the society.

Indigenous education in the Nigeria society to train a child to become honest, intelligent, and co-operative, respective, and respectable and become a well behaved adult in future. It helps to discipline all the facilities of the individuals. It help to bring out the best human qualities in individual.  It help a child at different stages to become useful member of the society. The reason for indigenous education is to train the individual through adolescent stage to become a well behaved member of the society.

And indigenous education have no scheme of work, syllabus or any written document or curriculum, it is impacting to individual through story telling, where the elder in the community share story with the young one and for them to learn from the bad and good side of story, and encourage them to uphold the good ones.

Indigenous education is impacting to learner through uses of adage by the elder for correction, explanation and advice. Indigenous Education teacher are classified into two, namely the general teacher and second is specific teacher, the general teacher are all elders in the community who have the capability to correct any child in the community. Even though the elder did not know the child, he / she has the right and power to correct the child or punished the child. The specific teacher are the member of the family like father, mother, sister, and Brother. Well the teacher were not certificated in any form, but they were considered to be knowledgeable with excellent moral uprightness. The aim to bring up a  well balance character in the life of the child. Like introducing a cultural transmission and renewal. It is the duty of the elder in the community to carefully guide the development of infants and young ones initiating them into the culture of that society.

Islamic education it is a religion that is well established in the northern parts of Nigeria and as existed early 1400s century, the religion was founded by Mohammed S.A.W mecca thousand year ago, islam means religion of peace and total submission to the will of Allah.

How Western Education get to Nigeria


We would remember that old literary and rhetoric education of the Romans was almost brought to an end after the fall of Roman Empire in the fifth century. The church that was to revive the Roman education saw it as being secular, whereas the church wanted religious education. The church was therefore not interested in it. But later, the church realized that its adherents must be literate before it could successfully carry out its functions. The transfer of education to church ( From state) made the church to single handedly control education for more than a thousand years. This monopoly affected both sociopolitical and intellectual activities not only of the people in Europe, but also in the British Colonial territories.

Early Explorers
The early European explorers visited Nigeria  as a result of their interest in trading activities. But they later realized that educating the customers would help in establishing their trade.  The first set of European traders to visit Nigeria in 1472 was the Portuguese. They visited the coastal areas of Benin, Lagos, Brass and Warri where they were said to be in rapport with the chiefs and citizens of the areas. The success of the Portuguese traders encouraged the first missionaries to come to Nigeria, they were the Catholics who started a training institute for converts as early as 1571. The institute was established for training Africans for church work.  These activities short lived because of the existing slave trade.  But when slave trade was declared illegal and unlawful in 1807, European Missionaries and explorers then began to visit Africa in large quantities for agricultural and missionary purpose.

The Niger Expedition and Missionary Attempt.

     A member of the anti – slave movement – T. F. Buxon had wanted River Niger water way explored and used for agriculture by the citizens in order to divert their attention from slavery and slave trade to agriculture. The Niger expedition was consequently carried out in 1841 by experts in agriculture, trade and missionary activities that signed a number of treaties, examined areas of missionary activities and started what could be referred to as diplomatic relations with local farmers,  chiefs and traders on behalf of the home government. In the same year,  some missionaries who had earlier on settled in Sierra Leone were invited to come to Nigeria for evangelical work.
Some Yoruba ex – slave who were also settled in Sierra Leone and who had migrated to Badagry wrote the letter of invitation and it was considered favourable by the church missionary society ( C.M.S ) of London and Freetown, Sierra Leone. However, the first missionaries to come to Nigeria were Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society ( W.M.M.S.) who arrived Badagry in September 1842.

     Under Reverend Thomas Birch Freetown, the W.M.M.S. established  mission house and members of the society started visiting chiefs and emigrants in and around Badagry especially Abeokuta where a mission house was established. Since the mission schools started to spring up,  the first one was said to have been established by Mr.  & Mrs.  De-Graft of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society in Badagry. Although, the W.M.MS. started the establishment of school in Nigeria, the C.M.S happened  to be the most energetic in the field of education as the society was controlling more schools than any other mission by the turn of nineteenth century. Other missionary bodies that came for evangelical works included the Baptist Missionaries who arrived Badagry in 1850, the Roman Catholic in 1868, the United Presbyterians came to calabar in 1845, the Qua Ibo who established their first mission school in Uyo in 1887 and the Primitive Methodist missionary society which established her own first mission house in Calabar and Owerri in 1892.
It is noteworthy here that these missions were greatly motivated by the European explorers who were interested in trading activities with West Africa as a result of anti-slavery campaign for a purpose that would promote European commerce.  It then becomes a case of religious cum commercial penetration, which could be achieved through the Bible and the plough.  They thought that what the natives needed was simple formal elementary education that would make the natives to be able to read the Bible and have money to buy the Bible ( through education, agriculture and commerce ).
Hence, there was no agreement between the various missionary bodies on the mode of instruction that should be given to the natives.  Therefore, different missionary bodies with different nature of instruction and general school administration.

The problem the early schools face in Nigeria.

1. Each denomination emphasized its own importance over the others and was prepared to show that its own denomination was better than the other.

2. There was no uniform qualification and code of conduct for teachers and students.  Teacher and students were coming to schools at will.

3. The early schools was that of irrelevant curriculum. The curriculum of the early was Christian oriented and the only subject taught reading, writing and arithmetic.  This curriculum could only make citizens to become clerks and interpreters who would be able to write and interpret the native language to the missionaries, cooks who would be able to cook missionaries food,  catechist who would be able to offer service in church and servants who could be sent on errands.

4. Vocational subject that could make them useful to themselves were not taught.

5. One other problem of the early schools was that of finance. The early school were faced with lack of fund. The schools only relied on Sunday offerings and money donated from abroad.

6. Closely related to this problem was the problem of material. Since there was no enough fund to buy materials, no enough material was bought. Classroom were not enough, desks and chairs were in short supply.

7. There was also the problem of personnel. There were no enough qualified teachers and non – teaching staff to work for the missionaries.

8. The last problem faced by the early schools was that of poor enrolment.  Native parents did not want their children to go to mission schools as they considered it a curse for children to move away from parents to foreigners.

Rationale of History of Educational in Nigeria

1. History of education enables us to understand the type of education of we had and the purpose it served in the past.

2. It helps to understand some major trends and developments in our educational system, beginning from indigenous period through the introduction of Islamic education to the period of western from of education.

3. It helps to know the processes involved in the development of our educational system.

4. It gives an insight into the philosophical ideas behind certain innovations in educational system there by enabling us to be able to formulate and implement better philosophies of education.

5. It gives us to know the present day problems of education in our Country and how to solve them.

6. It gives us opportunity to know past mistakes in our educational system and be able to make necessary amendments.

7. History of education presents the historical analysis of educational statistics in form of number of schools in certain areas, year of establishment of such schools,  number of pupils enrollment in such schools before, during and after the colonial era.

8. The opportunity of studying other nations educational ideas and programmes with the aim of developing our own is made possible by History of education.

9. History of education will enable our educationists and policy makers to make educational reforms that will bring about future development in our educational system.


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