Business Education

History of Business Education in Nigeria

Nigeria - History & Background  March 26, 2021 – 09:22 am
Business education & national

Nigeria ranks as the tenth largest nation in the world, and by far the largest nation in Africa, with an estimated population of 123, 337, 822 people. Located north of the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, Nigeria is bordered on the east by Cameroon, on the northeast by Chad, on the north by Niger, and on the west by the Republic of Benin. Land features change dramatically in Nigeria, from rain forests along the coast to rolling savanna hills about 200 miles north of the coastline. The savanna extends another 200 miles northward across the Niger and Benue Rivers. In the northeast, mountains form the border between Cameroon and Nigeria. The central and western part of northern Nigeria is a flat, semi-desert land called the Sahel. The Sahara Desert expands southward into the northern edges of Nigeria. The total land area is 356, 669 square miles (923, 773 square kilometers).

In 2000, more than 50 percent of the people in Nigeria lived in urban areas. Lagos, the former capital on the southwestern coast, has an estimated 13.5 million citizens. Lagos is among the 10 largest cities in the world. Other large cities include Ibadan in the west with 1.5 to 2.0 million people, Ogbomosho in the west with more than 720, 000 people, and Kano in the north with almost 800, 000 people. In 1991 the capital was moved to Abuja, located in the central part of Nigeria north of the Niger and Benue River confluence. By 2000, the capital had grown to more than 335, 000 people.

Four major ethnic groups make up about 65 to 70 percent of the population. The largest group is the Hausa/Fulani, a mixture of two ethnic groups living primarily in the northern half of the country. The Hausa/Fulani people number about 35 to 40 million. The Yoruba in western Nigeria number about 30 million people, and the Igbo in eastern Nigeria number about 15 million people. More than 300 ethnic groups, each speaking a different language, live in Nigeria. English, nonetheless, is the common language used for business, education, and government.

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.


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