The British Colonial Policies on Education in Nigeria 1882 – 1926

The British Colonial Policies on Education in Nigeria 1882 – 1926

Austine Obogo E.

British Colonial policies on education were formulated and implemented in Nigeria between 1882 and 1926, when it became apparent that the missionary education was not solving the education problems of the Nigerian natives.

Going by the records, western missionary education started in Nigeria in 1842, with the arrival of Thomas Birch Freeman, of the Methodist missionary society and Mr. and Mrs. De Graft of the church missionary society.

The initial objective of the missionary bodies to Nigeria was to carry out evangelical work i.e. preaching the gospel to the natives. Remarkable efforts were made by the various missionary bodies in building churches and schools which were all used for the purpose of evangelizing. The basic content of instruction in schools was reading and writing which were necessary for the understanding of the gospel.


However, these missionary schools were devoid of standard and uniform curricula, as each missionary body established schools to suit their specific needs. The practice of the missionary bodies in establishing and managing schools continued for about four decades after which, the colonial government according to Ajayi (1965) became critical of the small denominational schools that were not able to produce the clerks who were needed for the growing administration and expanding commercial enterprise in Nigeria.

This paper gives a historical appraisal of the formulation and implementation of British Colonial policies of education in Nigeria between 1882 and 1926. It also takes a look at the nature of such educational policies and critically evaluates the role played by the British colonial administration and the Christian missionary educational ordinances on Nigeria during the aforementioned period.

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