Western education had been here for quite a while now. Nigeria has turned out to be among the most educated sets of people globally. Check many of the top line educational institutions abroad and you will almost always find Nigerians there.
Truth of the matter is western education helped to open Nigeria and Nigerians to the world. It has given the country lots of recognition across the globe and Nigeria as a nation has had a lot to gain from it. So, how exactly did western education in Nigeria start? This write up will attempt to proffer an insight into the question.
How it all began
Right from the time the British berthed at the shores of Nigeria, they started making efforts to get Nigerians to learn about their foreign ways. The local, traditional or customary kinds of education were already in place before the western colonial masters came and many parents had to insist on their kids learning both ways.
The western kind of education did not gain full recognition in the Nigerian society until during the 20th century; this was when the three British interested became firmly entrenched in Nigeria; these three are the Formal colonial masters, the British commerce and the Christian Mission.
The Christian mission started educating young children, especially boys, in the British ways of life, since many parents would not release their daughters to go to school. The very first school built to teach western education in Nigeria was established in 1843 by the Methodist Church and that was the Nursery of Infant Church. The said school was established in Badagry. The name of the school was later changed to St Thomas’ Anglican Nursery and Primary School. The school was founded by one Rev. Golmer. The school is now 173 years old.
A host of other schools came up later and the very first secondary school in Nigeria is CMS Grammar School, located in Lagos; it was established in 1859. Some 20 years later, the Methodist Boys High School was opened in Lagos. The Methodist Girls High School followed about a year later. The Baptists Academy was established in Lagos in 1885. Abeokuta Grammar School followed in 1908.
Kings College, Lagos was established in 1909, followed by Ijebu-Ode Grammar School in 1913. Eko Boys High School was established the same year and Ondo boys High School sprang up some 6 years later. It is equally important to mention Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Anambra, which was established in 1925. The very first higher institution in Nigeria, the Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar, was established in 1895.
Factors contributing to the spread
Western education spread fast across Nigeria, thanks to the political power of the western world. They equally influenced the process using economic power. In those days, no one could find favour in the eyes of an Englishman if he/she did not send his/her child to school. Being able to speak the language of the white man was even a wonder to behold for many and many parents never needed much persuasion to send their kids to school.