WHAT IS EDUCATION? Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators, but learners may also educate themselves. Education can take place in formal or informal settings and any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational. The methodology of teaching is called pedagogy.
Education is commonly and formally divided into stages such as preschool or kindergarten, primary school, secondary school and then college, university or apprenticeship. A right to education has been recognized by some governments, including at the global level: Article 13 of the United Nations' 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognizes a universal right to education. In most regions education is compulsory up to a certain age. Formal education in Nigeria is traceable to the efforts of European Missionaries around 1842. Education at this time was regarded as of funda mental importance to the spread of Christianity (Esu 1997). Thus, education introduced at this early stage was interwoven with Christian evan gelism. The missionaries established and ran the early schools in Nigeria. They also designed the curriculum for such schools and devoted their mea gre resources to the opening of schools for young Nigerians

All missionaries who came to Nigeria combined evangelical and educational work together. Consequently, early mission schools were founded by the Methodist Church of Scotland Mission , the Church Missionary Society (CMS) and the RomanCatholics. By 1882, the CMS. had seventeen elemen tary and infant day schools for boys and girls in var 1 ious parts of Lagos. Nine of these schools were under the direction of the Lagos Church of England School Board while others were managed by the local board of the Church Missionary Society.
However, the spread of western education in the north was not as smooth as it was in the south. This was because the north had enjoyed the Islamic system of education for many years before intro » duction of western education. However, efforts were made by different missions to open primary schools in the north (See Table 6.2.2) The subjects taught in majority of the elementary schools includ i ed: Scripture, English Compositions, English Grammar, Arithmetic, Geography, Music, Singing, Reading, Writing, Dictation, and for girls Sewing (Fafunwa 1974). The emphasis in the infant classes was on the teaching of the 3 Rs (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic). The growth of schools was, however, limited by lack of funds and sometimes parents' unwillingness to send their children especially girls to school. Formal education in Nigeria began when the first primary school opened its doors in 1843 in Badagry, Lagos. This school was then owned by the Methodist missionaries, marking the first evidence of private sector stimulated delivery of

education in Nigeria. Following this, was the flag-off of secondary school education in Nigeria by Christian missionaries with the establishment of the C.M.S Grammar School also in Lagos in 1859. By the year 1914, when both the Northern and Southern Protectorates were amalgamated, there were a total of 59 government and 91 mission primary schools in the South; all 11 secondary schools except for
King’s College Lagos were run by Missions. Due to the pressure on the need to have more schools across the Federation, additional schools where created by local efforts in the 1920s to meet these needs. Since then, the private sector’s involvement in education delivery across Nigeria has been on the increase. The various bodies that constitute the major private sector elements involved in providing basic, post-basic and higher education in Nigeria include; private individuals, communities, corporations, foundations and religious bodies.
The growing confidence in private schools across Nigeria over the years has been informed by the belief that these schools out-perform their public counterparts particularly in the area of education. Also, owing to the peculiar nature of education in Nigeria, most private schools are known to be consistent with their academic colanders compared with public schools which are known for repeated strikes and unstable time frames. While there is no doubt that the private sector has contributed significantly to the growth of the education sector in Nigeria, it is also a reality that there have been some challenges along the way. The efficiency and effectiveness of private schools across Nigeria is marred by the lack of accreditation and high tuition, as just some of the challenges facing private sector-driven services in education. In Nigeria, basic education typically begins at the age of six. This is comprised of six years of primary school and three years of junior secondary school (JSS); the first nine years of basic education is mandatory. It is equally pertinent to note that achieving Universal Primary Education (UPE), Millennium.


The concept of education in Africa was not a colonial invention, Prior to European colonization and subsequent introduction of Western education, traditional educational systems existed in Africa. The enduring role of education in every society is to prepare individuals to participate fully and effectively in their world; it prepares youths to be active and productive members of their societies by inculcating the skills necessary to achieve these goals. Although its functions varied, African traditional education was not compartmentalized. Fundamentally, it was targeted toward producing an individual who grew to be well grounded, skillful, cooperative, civil, and able to contribute to the development of the community. The educational structure in which well-rounded qualities were imparted was fundamentally informal; the family, kinship, village group, and the larger community participated in the educational and socialization process.

In his Education in Africa, Abdou Moumouni affirmed that the educational process essentially was based on a “gradual and progressive achievements, in conformity with the successive stages of physical, emotional and mental development of the child” (Moumouni 1968, p. 15). The medium of instruction was the native language or “mother tongue” through which systematic instruction was delivered by way of songs, stories, legends, and dances to stimulate children’s emotions and quicken their perception as they explore and conquer their natural environment.
The African child was taught the various tribal laws and customs and wide range of skills required for success in traditional society. Traditionally, education received by Africans was oriented toward the practical. Work by Magnus Bassey (1991) indicates that those who took to fishing were taught navigational techniques like seafaring, the effects of certain stars on tide and ebb, and migrational patterns and behavior of fish. Those who took to farming had similar training. Those who learned trades and crafts, such as blacksmithing, weaving, woodwork, and bronze work, needed a high degree of specialization and were often apprenticed outside their homes for training and discipline. Those who took to the profession of traditional priesthood, village heads, kings, medicine men and women diviners, rainmakers, and rulers underwent a longer period of painstaking training and rituals to prepare them for the vital job they were to perform.
Teaching was basically by example and learning by doing. African education emphasized equal opportunity for all, social solidarity and homogeneity. It was complete and relevant to the needs and expectations of both the individuals and society. This is because it was an integral part of the social, political, and economic foundation of the African society. However, the advent of the European missionaries and the introduction of Western education through the mission schools changed, in many fundamental ways, the dynamics of African education. Western education soon took the center stage in Africa, debasing, challenging, and supplanting the traditional, informal education along with its cultural foundations.

Before the British arrived in the early nineteenth century, there were two major types of education in Nigeria. In the Islamic north, education was strictly religious in nature. In each Muslim community, a mallam drilled children as young as five years old in the teachings of the Qur'an and the Arabic alphabet. During the colonial era, larger cities set up more expansive Islamic schools that included subjects such as math and science. In 1913, these Islamic schools, almost all in the north, numbered 19,073 and enrolled 143,312 students. In the 1970s the government took control of the Islamic schools, but in the 1990s, the schools were allowed to operate independently again. The indigenous system was the second type of education before the British occupation. Students were taught the practical skills needed to function successfully in traditional society. Usually children within two or three years of age belonged to an age-group. Together, they learned the customs of their community and were assigned specific duties around the village, such as sweeping lanes or clearing brush. As the children grew older, the boys were introduced to farming and more specialized work, such as wood carving or drumming. Girls would learn farming and domestic skills. Boys would often enter into apprenticeship-type relationships with master craftsmen. Even in the twenty-first century, this kind of education is common. Formal, Western-type of education was introduced by British missionaries in the 1840s. The Anglican Church Missionary Society (CMS) started several schools in the mid-1800s. The colonial government gave the church financial aid, but in the early twentieth century the government began building primary and secondary schools. By the time the British combined the northern and southern regions into one colony in 1914, a total of 11 secondary schools were in operation, all but 1 run by missionaries. There were also 91 mission and 59 government elementary schools.

          Western education slowly entered the northern region. In 1947, only 66,000 students were attending primary schools in the north. Ten years later, the number enrolled had expanded to 206,000 students. In the western region, over the same period, primary school enrollment expanded from 240,000 to 983,000 students. The eastern region experienced the most dramatic growth in primary enrollment during this period, jumping from 320,000 to 1,209,000 students. The number of secondary school students in the entire nation grew much less dramatically, increasing from 10,000 in 1947 to 36,000 in 1957. Most of this growth, 90 percent, was almost entirely in the south. In the 1950s, Nigeria adopted the British system called Form Six that divided grades into six elementary years, three junior secondary years, two senior secondary years, and a two-year university preparation program. Those who scored high on exit examinations at the end of Form Six usually were qualified to enter universities. Although Nigeria celebrated its independence in 1960, the second half of the sixties brought the chaos and disaster of the Nigeria Civil War. After a long series of ethnic riots and killings against the Igbo of eastern Nigeria, the Igbos seceded from Nigeria in May 1967, naming their new country the Republic of Biafra. The war destroyed much of the nation's educational framework, especially in eastern Nigeria. Biafra surrendered in 1970, but the country never fully resolved the issues that led to the war. In 1976, Nigeria passed a law making education compulsory for all children between the ages of 6 and 12. By 1980, approximately 98 percent (15,607,505 students) of this age group were enrolled in primary school, up from 37 percent in 1970. The military and civilian governments paid little attention to education, however, and the quality of education deteriorated nationwide. By 1985, the country as a whole had 35,000 primary schools with fewer than 13 million students. Another 3.8 million primary school-aged children lived on the streets. Conditions became progressively worse. By 1994, the number of primary students in school had changed little, even with the country's high birth rate. Secondary education fared worse than the other levels of education. During the 1970s and 1980s, the majority of primary students finishing sixth grade never went on to junior secondary school. Those who did rarely went on to senior secondary school, and for those who were qualified for higher education, very few openings existed in the 1960s. At independence, with about 6,000 students, there were only six higher educational institutions in Nigeria: the University Ibadan, the University of Ife, the University of Lagos, Ahmadu Bello University, the University of Nigeria at Nsukka, and the Institute of Technology at Benin. More universities and polytechnics were built in the 1970s, and more students were able to go on for postsecondary education. In 1971, approximately 19,000 students were studying in institutions of higher education. By 1985, the number had increased to 125,000 students, but this still represented a tiny portion of the population. Nigeria has since struggled through a series of military dictatorships that ended in May 1999 with the democratic election of President Olusegun Obasanjo. The government seems determined to restore a damaged educational system over the last two decades of the twentieth century. The Western education system in Nigeria started in 1842 by the Christian missionaries. This early activity was concentrated within the Lagos area (Badagry and Abeokuta) with little effort beyond. The British Colonial interest began when there was an empire problem between Kosoko and Dosumu in Lagos. The British Government used the opportunity and bombarded Lagos in 1851 and in 1861; Lagos then became a colony under British Government. Gradually, British authority in Nigeria began to have interest in the education. This they did initially through grants-in-aid and ordinances. This write-up explores the involvement of the British colonial government in Nigeria education between 1872 and 1882.

The era between 1842 and 1882 is regarded in history of Nigeria education as period of exclusive missionary enterprise. Within this period the various missionary organizations in Nigeria run the education according to their respective philosophies, level of manpower available, as well as the availability of material and financial resources. The Western government was silent over the educational activities of the missions then. The noninterference of the British Western government in Nigeria at the period under review could be attributed to the following factors:
  1. Political factor: Religious interest preceded political interest at this early British contact in Nigeria. For instance the missionaries settled in Nigeria for pure evangelical work in 1842. From this period until 1851and 1861 when Lagos was bombarded by and ceded to the British government, respectively, there was no British political control over any part of Nigeria. This means that the British Western Government took over Lagos as a colony in 1861. It was then that she became visibly present in the politics of the country;
  2. British Government Policy on Education: In Britain then, education was decentralized and the private and religious organizations were allowed to establish and run schools on their own. The same attitude was upheld by the Western authority in Nigeria;
  3. Financial Factor: The British Western Government in Nigeria was not ready to interfere on the establishment and management of schools, early because of the cost effects (Amaele, 2003).
Minimal Grants-In-Aid
In 1872, the British Government released the sum of £30 to each of the three active missionary societies in Lagos. These missionary organizations were the Church Missionary Society, the Wesleyan Methodist and the Catholic. The money was meant to support their missionary activities. This was the beginning of financial grants-in-aid to education which became the major educational financial policy of the Western government in Nigeria.
The grant was increased in 1877 to £200 to each of the said missions. This mount remained an annual assistant till 1882. Due to the above little grant given to assist the educational activities of the missions’ schools, the Western administration decided to gradually intervene in the policy making in education, through what they called education ordinance. But what actually, was the aim of Western education in Nigeria?
Aims of Western Education in Nigeria
The Western education in Nigeria was purely elitist, utilitarian and conservative. It differed slightly from that of the missionaries.

The aim of Western education could be broken into the following objectives:
  1. To produce low level manpower that could be cheaply used as interpreters, messengers, artisans and clerks;
  2. To produce some indigenous youths who could help the rural farmers in planting, harvesting and processing some needed cash crops which were exported to Europe as raw materials to their industries;
  3. To produce semi-literate citizens that could conform and be absorbed as instruments for actualizing the British philosophy of Westernism (Nduka 1975).

The Nigerian education system started slowly but soundly developing during the colonial time until the conclusion of World War II. The Christian missionaries introduced the western education system in Nigeria in the mid-nineteenth century.  In 1990, three fundamentally distinct education systems existed in Nigeria - the indigenous system, the Quranic schools, and formal European-style educational institutions. Higher Education in Nigeria originated with the colonial government launching the Yaba Higher College in 1934.
The Sarawak Chamber in Malaysia is the largest cave in the world is 2300 feet (701 meters) long, 1300 feet (400 meters) wide, and more than 230 feet (70 meters) high. According to the 1979 constitution, education in Nigeria became the responsibility of the state and local councils. The first 6 years of primary education were made mandatory, which was a significant factor in the development of education in Nigeria. There has been a noticeable upgrading of educational facilities in Nigeria in recent years.

Adewale, J. A. (1985). A Handbook for Primary School Teachers and Headmasters. Ibadan: Evans Brother (Nigeria Publishers) Ltd.
Akinbote, O., Oduolowu, E. and Lawal, B. (2001). Pre-primary and Primary Education in Nigeria: A Basic Text. Ibadan: Stirling-Horden Publishers (Nig.) Ltd.
Akinpelu J.A. (1984) An Introduction to Philosophy of Education, Londn
Amaele, S. (2003) A Study Guide on History and Policy of Education in Nigeria. Ilorin: NDEMAC (Nigeria Publishers) Limited.
Fafunwa, Babs S. (1991). History of Education in Nigeria. Ibadan: N. P. S. educational Publishers.
Nduka, O. A. (1975) Western Education and the Nigerian Cultural Background. Ibadan: Oxford University Press.
Osokoya. I. O. (1985) History and Policy of Nigerian Education in World

Osokoya, I. O. (1995) History and Policy of Nigeria Education in World Perspective Ibadan; AMD Publishers. Perspective. Ibadan: AMD Publishers.

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