In the early years of the history of the teaching profession in Nigeria, teachers were not trained professionals. Teaching was done by any one with a general knowledge any body thought to be knowledgeable could be called upon to teach most of the early teachers therefore, fall into this category. They were just practicing a trade while the early training institutions were to build a profession out of their practice. The early teacher was a catechist though not strictly a pastor, a teacher nor a priest, but could perform all these roles as situations demands. As the number and complexity of the school’s system grow the expectations of parents equally grows and the teacher’s levels of expectations also started growing. This development eventually culminated in the need for the training of teachers. In the history of teacher education in Nigeria, it would be seen that the early attempt at the training of teachers was made by the Christian missionaries.
History of Teaching Profession
In 1859 for instance, the Church Missionary Society (C. M. S) established the first teacher training college in Abeokuta. The institution which was known as “C. M. S” training institution was to further enhance the propagation of Christianity. In 1867 it was moved to Lagos. This institution was, however, not destined to stay in both Abeokuta and Lagos respectively but in Oyo; and so about thirty (30) years later precisely in 1896, it was moved to Oyo to be known later as the St. Andrew’s college, Oyo. The St. Andrew’s college Oyo, as we had noted earlier thus, became the teacher training teacher in Nigeria. The college had its curriculum, the following subjects: theology, history, music, geography, arithmetic, art, craft, and catechism. In 1897, the Baptist mission, following the step of the C. M. S. founded the Baptist training college at Ogbomosho. The Wesleyan Methodist mission society also established a training institution for teachers and catechists in Ibadan in 1905. These institutions later became known as the Wesley College Ibadan in 1918.
The early school teacher in Nigeria is being referred to as those who first ran the early schools established by the missionaries with strong evangelical responsibilities established schools. The establishment of the school was motivated by two important objectives among others which were to spread western education and to spread the Christian religion. Since most of the training institutions were established by the missionaries, the job of the school teacher then could not be considered professional as we have today. The motive behind the education provided by the missionaries was basically religious. Their function could not be limited to teaching alone. They could, therefore, be called upon to serve as a town clerk, a church chorister, official visitor to the sick, coordinator of church activities and a court messenger. The curriculum of the early teacher training institution took care of the different roles the trainees were to play.
The curriculum made provision for the teaching of theology with teaching method this afforded the trained catechist to teach while the trained teachers could also serve as evangelical catechists. Before government involvement in the missionaries activities of education matters, teacher’s education inclusive, the missionaries had subjected the institutions to that and caprices. Teaching profession or teacher education was for a long time a missionary enterprise lacking the full backing of the government.
A landmark in the history of the development of teacher education in Nigeria was the breaking of the monopoly of the activities of the missionaries in the establishment and institutions of teachers training. In 1920, the director of education in the Northern provinces, Mr. P. U. Smith proposed the establishment of the Kastina training college. The subjects to be taught in five years of its programme unlike the missionary institutions which include: hygiene, agriculture and character development.
Unfortunately, however, the assessment of the Kastina training college by the Phelps Stokes commission in 1921 showed that the college was not progressing academically. The commission then suggested the types of education ends to be attained and that it should focus on:
- The training of masses.
- Training of local leader and
- The educational preparation for the profession.
In the write-up, I have been able to examine the issues of teacher education in the history of Nigeria. Characteristic of early school teachers and the introduction of training institutions for a teacher in Nigeria. The missionaries’ roles in teachers training with the aim of promoting Christianity. How government decides to break the monopoly of the missionaries in teacher education programme. Government intervention, the establishment of teacher training institutions. The subsequent recommendation to improve teacher education programmes and the publication of the new national policy on education with the recognition to teacher education as pronounced in the aim.
- CDLCE on Edu 103, “Introduction to teaching profession” University of Abuja.
- Ogunsayu, Segun (1988) “The teaching profession” Ibadan; Laville Publication.
- Fafanwa, A. B. (1974) “History of Education in Nigeria” London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd.