Protestant Missionary Education in Nigeria

Protestant Missionary Education in Nigeria

Author by Dr. Abiodun Adesegun

Language: English


The introduction of Western education in Nigeria is synonymous with the coming AQ1 AQ2 AQ3 of European missionaries in the 1840s. It is germane to note that until 1898, all tiers of education in the country were under the direct control of the missionaries. By 1942, they controlled 99% of the schools, while 97% of the students in Nigeria were enrolled in mission schools (Coleman, 1963, p. 112). Some have argued that themissionary achievement in the 19th century in the area of formal education was very modest. First, they could not penetrate Northern Nigeria due to the strong islamization of the area and the subsequent colonial government’s posture to allow the status quo to remain. Even where Western education was allowed, the missionaries were not interested in secondary education, as they believed that such education could make Nigerians materialistic and intellectually arrogant (Osoba & Fajana, 1999). The result of this development was the establishment of few secondary schools, like the Christian Missionary Society Grammar School, Lagos (1859) and Methodist Boys High School, Lagos (1878). There are others who point out that in spite of the limited content of Western education provided by the missionaries, it did provide for the teaching of the virtues of Christian civilization. It also made extensive use of the English Language, which was necessary due to Nigeria’s linguistic diversity (Coleman, 1963). The schools and the lingua franca became contributory to the coming together of Nigerians, for the demands for reform, and later for independence from colonial rule. The Methodist Church was the first group to establish a formal elementary school in Nigeria, but it was the Church Missionary Society (CMS) (Anglican mission) that started early with a more systematized approach to the establishment of schools in Nigeria. The Roman Catholic, the Baptist, and the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) missions would follow the Methodists.

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