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.
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.