OVERVIEW OF EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: PRE-COLONIAL TO PRESENT DAY
By M. A. Mkpa
Three main educational traditions, the Indigenous, Islamic and the Western, are known to have flourished at various times in Nigeria. Each type of education served its purpose for its consumers but also had its problems.
Even in these days of western-type education, and at this dawn of the new millennium, our educational system is still beset with numerous problems in spite of the progress so far made. This paper examines the trend in the educational development of Nigeria from pre-colonial times to the present, with a view to highlighting the progress made and problems encountered on the way.
More specifically, we present an overview of the indigenous, Quranic and the western-type education before and after independence. We also examine some problems in Nigerian education, especially access, discipline and funding and indi cate desirable direction for the future.
NATURE OF INDIGENOUS EDUCATION
Indigenous education represents the type of education offered in the pre-literate era, within the community, by community members who possessed specialised skills or abilities in various fields of human endeavour. In most communities, prior to the introduction of formal education, boys were brought up to take to whatever occupation their fathers engaged in. In some other cases, the boys were sent to other masters as apprentices to learn various vocations and life etiquette.
Although occupations varied accord ing to the geographical areas in Nigeria, the major ones were farming, trading, craft work, fishing, cat tle rearing, wine tapping, traditional medicine and black-smithing. The boys also engaged in such other training activities as archery, tree climbing and wrestling. Intellectual training for them consisted of their sitting quietly beside their fathers at meetings and listening attentively to learn the process of such tasks and skills as arbitration of cases, oratory, wise sayings and use of proverbs.
All these stimulated their sense of rationality. Girls were often expected to stay back at home to learn domestic and other chores such as cook ing, sweeping, weeding the farmlands, hair weav ing, decorations of the body, dye production; and the like from their mothers. As in the case of the boys, the girls did almost exactly what their mothers trained them to do. Generally, therefore, in spite of geo-political variations, traditional or indigenous education in most parts of Nigeria trained individu als to fit usefully into their society by learning and practising economic skills for self-sustenance; adapting to their role expectations and contributing to the development of their society.
Although the traditional education offered by the community was comprehensive such that it provided training in physical, character, intellectual, social and voca tional development, it however had its limitations. For one thing, in the absence of writing, people depended on the power of their memories to facilitate the retention and transmission of all learned ideas to future generations. But memory could fail, and in the event of the death of a custodian of some useful information or skill, all was lost. There were, however, little or no cases of unemployment.
Islamic Education In Nigeria:
Records show that Islam was first accepted by a Kanern ruler, Umme Jilmi (1085 - 1097). Subsequent rulers, Dunama 1 (1097-1150) and Dunama II (1221 - 59), continued the tradition of Islamic learning such that by the end of the 13th Century, Kanern had become a centre of Islamic learning (Fafunwa, 1974:53).
In the early 14th Century, Islam was brought into Hausa land by traders and scholars who came from Wangarawa to Kano in the reign of Ali Yaji (1349 1385). Before long, most of what later became the Northern Nigeria was islamised. Islamic education brought along with it Arabic learning since Arabic is the language of the Quran and was therefore perceived as having great spiritual value. Arabic and Islam were taught simulta neously in primary schools. As a result of the polit ical and social influence which Islam and Quranic learning conferred on those who possessed it, many rulers employed Islamic scholars as administrators.
The Jihad by Uthman Dan Fodio helped to revive, spread and consolidate Islamic studies and extend access to education also to women. Thus, before the arrival in Nigeria of the Western type education in the 19th Century, Islamic learning had been established. Islamic studies had also pene trated the Western parts of Nigeria before the arrival of the Jihadists; but the Jihad strengthened the religion where it was weak. Support for Islamic education came from some Northern Nigerian lead ers, especially Abdullahi Bayero, (Emir of Kano), who, on his return from Mecca in 1934, introduced new ideas by building a Law School for training teachers of Islamic subjects and Arabic as well as English and Arithmetic.
The school continued to grow and expand in scope such that before long, and with the support of the then Northern Region Ministry of Education, it had grown into the popular Bayero College, Kano, which became a part of Ahmadu Bello University and later the present Bayero University, Kano. The institution helped to expand the scope of Islamic studies in Nigeria. Many institutions have sprung up over the years, in many parts of the country, for the purpose of teaching Islamic ideas and practices. However, one major problem of this educational tradition is the focus on Arabic which, in many parts of Nigeria, is not the language of literature, instruction and cor respondence.
The Western-Type Education. This educa tional tradition, began seriously in Nigeria with the arrival of the Wesleyan Christian Missionaries at Badagry in 1842. It has obviously been the most successful in meeting the overall formal education al needs of the consumers for the present and the future. Between 1842and 1914, abouttendifferent Christian missions had arrived and begun intensive missionary and educational work in Nigeria. Schools were built and the missions struggled for pupils/members such that there was a proliferation of primary schools established by different mis sions. Although literary educationin in the 4Rs (reading, writing, arithmetic and religion) was predominant, this new missionary education prepared the recipients for new job opportunities, as teachers, church evangelists or pastors, clerks and inter preters. Emphasis was also on character training. Most of the missions established primary schools and, initially, little emphasis was laid on secondary and higher education.
But following agitations by influential church members, rich merchants and emigrants living in Lagos, the CMS Grammar School Lagos, for example, was established in 1857. The .western-type education developed faster in the South than in the North of Nigeria because of the scepticism of the Muslims about the impact of Christian missionary education. By 1914, it was estimated that about 25,000 Quranic schools were already in existence all over Northern Nigeria. Thus, the arrival of Christian Western education met stiff opposition. However, in some parts of Northern Nigeria, the Christian missionaries did succeed to establish schools, at times, in collabora tion with Government.
Much of the educational work in Southern Nigerian, prior to 1882, was done by the missionar ies almost without government assistance. However, from 1882, the Government began a bold intervention by promulgating codes and regulations, guidelines and policies on organisation and man agement of schools. Government also began to appoint inspectors and to make grants to schools to ensure quality. Thus, between 1882 and 1950, many codes and regulations were issued by Government to regulate the quality of education in various parts of the country. Between 1952 and 1960, each of the then three regions enacted and operated new education laws (the West in 1955, both the East and North in 1956). The initial exper iment at Universal Primary Education Programme was started in the West and East in 1955 and 1957 respectively.
The West African Examination Council, (WAEC) was set up in 1952 as a corporate body charged with the responsibility of conducting examinations in the public interest in West Africa. Such examination were to qualify candidates for certificates which were equivalent to those from similar examining authorities in the United Kingdom (Adeyogbe, 1992).
Furthermore, in 1959, the Federal Government set up the Sir Eric Ashby Commission to identify the high-level manpower needs of the country for the future. The Ashby Report prescribed that education was indeed the tool for achieving national econom ic expansion and the social emancipation of the individual (Aliu, 1997).
It recommended the establishment of four Federal Universities in the country, and presented some vital courses for them. Five universities, instead of four, were subsequently opened as follows: University of Nigeria, Nsukka (1960), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1962), University of lfe, lle-ife (1962), University of Lagos, Lagos (1962), and University of lbadan, first established as University College, lbadan in 1948. University of Benin was later established (1972). As of 1999, Nigeria had forty-one universities made up of twenty-five Federal, twelve State and four Private-owned. Among them are specialised universities, including three Universities of Agriculture, seven Universities of Technology, as well as a military university, the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna.
These have been established in the bid to address specific areas of national needs. Other ter tiary educational institutions such as Colleges of Education, Polytechnics and Colleges of Techno logy were also set up during the years. The National Universities Commission (NUC), established in 1962, has the task of co-ordinating the orderly development of the Nigerian university system and maintaining its academic standards. In 1977, the Joint Admission and Matriculations Board (JAMB) was created to regulate the admission of students into the universities, taking cognisance of available spaces and federal character. Student enrolment in universities has risen froin a mere 1,395 in 1960 to over 250,000 by 1998/9 session.