…the British rulers did not want to educate Africans for positions which provided jobs for themselves. Many of them knew that if they intensified the education of Nigerians they would hasten the end of occupation. So they rationed education cautiously, hoping that it would be many centuries before Nigerians would be able to govern themselves.41 Under colonial rule, the first moves were made by Christian missionaries who sought to spread the gospel. But this was not possible unless the people could read and write. Therefore the church schools started to teach the Bible, catechism and other Christian doctrines. The colonial government later saw the need to train clerks and skilled artisans who could be employed into the lower cadres of the colonial civil service. This was good reason to support the schools founded by the missionaries and even to start funding them. When it came to higher education however, the colonial masters were not enthusiastic about providing this in the colonies. As Adewoye recorded: … in Nigeria, indications of the desire for higher education existed in the nineteenth century, when local merchants, mainly Sierra Leonean immigrants in Lagos, were sending their children overseas to train as professionals… . Significantly, the higher education the children pursued was professional in nature: medicine, law, and engineering. By 1913, eight doctors had qualified; there were about twenty-four lawyers and two civil engineers.42 41
Okechukwu Ikejiani (ed) (1964) Nigerian education, Longman, Nigeria Ltd P. 4. 42 Adewoye (1973) The Antecedents. In The University of Ibadan 19481973, J. F. Ade Ajayi and Tekena N. Tamuno, Ibadan University Press, p. 5.