Oldest Secondary Schools In Nigeria: Education is unquestionably the cornerstone of any society’s advancement, and secondary school is an essential stage of education because it is so critical for forming young minds and preparing them for the future. There are a number of secondary schools in Nigeria, that have withstood the test of time and possess considerable historical significance.
In addition to giving generations of Nigerians a high-quality education, these institutions have aided in the overall growth of the country. We shall study some of the oldest secondary schools in Nigeria’s history and learn about their enduring legacies in this post.
Oldest Secondary Schools In Nigeria That Are Still In Existence
1. CMS Grammar School, Lagos: The oldest secondary school in Nigeria was CMS Grammar School in Lagos. The school was first opened on June 6, 1859. It was established by the Christian Missionary Society and has a history of providing top-notch education.
According to many sources, Babington Macaulay, father of famous nationalist, Herbert Macaulay founded CMS Grammar School in Lagos. James Pinson Labulo Davies, who gave Babington Macaulay £50 in April 1859 to purchase textbooks and other supplies for the school, made this feasible.
It has continued to produce some eminent and esteemed Nigerians since its founding, people who have had a significant impact on the political and economic growth of the nation. Ernest Shonekan, a former interim president of Nigeria, and Herbert Macaulay, a well-known nationalist, are just two of the renowned alumni the institution has produced throughout the years who have excelled in a variety of professions, including politics, commerce, and academia. African pastors and officials in the Lagos Colony were primarily recruited from this school in previous decades.
2. Baptist Academy, Lagos: Another prestigious secondary school in Lagos is Baptist Academy, which has a fascinating past that would make a fascinating read in a history book. The American Baptist Missionaries founded Baptist Academy in 1855. It’s in Lagos’ Obanikoro neighborhood. To suggest that this excellent school has had a significant impact on Nigeria’s educational landscape would be an understatement. A holistic education that fosters students’ intellectual and spiritual development is the school’s main goal. This indicates that the school’s priorities extend beyond its pupils’ academic success.
The development of the students’ spiritual lives is not neglected. Little wonder why the school’s motto is Deo duce—God is my leader.
Baptist Academy may be proud of an impressive list of former students who have significantly influenced Nigeria’s progress in a variety of fields. Some of the school’s noteworthy graduates include Mike Ozekhome, a human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and Sir Chief Kessington Adebutu, the creator of Premier Lotto (Baba Ijebu). The school is recognized as a sister institution to the Baptist Girls’ Academy in Obanikoro, Lagos, and the Reagan Memorial Baptist Girls’ Secondary School in Yaba, Lagos.
3. Hope Waddell Training Institution, Calabar: Hope Waddell Training Institution (HOWAD), which is based in Calabar, Cross River State, has a fascinating past that goes back to 1895. The institution was founded by Scottish missionaries with the intention of giving young men vocational training. It bears the Reverend Hope Masterton Waddell’s name. The school initially offered practical instruction in carpentry, masonry, blacksmithing, coopering, marine engineering, brickmaking, and bricklaying to male students. Domestic science, bookkeeping, and dressmaking were taught to female pupils.
The college quickly ascended to the top of West Africa’s vocational training providers. Since then, it has expanded into an elite secondary school known for its academic prowess and currently offers a typical grammar school curriculum. Outstanding graduates from the Hope Waddell Training Institution have gone on to lead in a variety of fields and made major contributions to the growth and prosperity of Nigeria. Examples include Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who served as Nigeria’s first president from 16 November 1904 until 11 May 1996, and Akanu Ibiam, a former Eastern Nigerian governor.
4. Methodist Boys’ High School, Victoria Island, Lagos: One of Lagos’s first all-boys secondary schools, Methodist Boys’ High School was founded in 1878. When Methodist community leaders, notably Charles Joseph George, got together in 1874 to talk about starting a secondary school for members of their communion as an alternative to the CMS Grammar School, Bariga Lagos, the idea for the school was created.
It has produced illustrious graduates who have achieved success in a variety of fields, including engineering, law, and medicine. They include Ola Rotimi, a well-known writer and author, and former CJN Atanda Fatai Williams.
5. St. Gregory’s College, Lagos: St. Gregory’s College has a reputation for having high academic standards and steadfast moral principles. Prior to the establishment of its sister institution, Holy Child College Obalende, the college was a coed campus. It is located in South-West Ikoyi. In 1928, it was founded by the Catholic mission and named after the Pope St. Gregory the Great.
The school was built with assistance from businessman Michael Ibru and his construction company, Ace Jomona. The university has a long history of turning out leaders in a variety of fields, including business, politics, and sports. Some of them include Vector, a well-known hip-hop artist, and Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour of Nigeria’s Supreme Court. The cricket and football teams of Saint Gregory have been the school’s most illustrious sports groups.
6. Government College Umuahia, Abia State: Government College Umuahia (GCU), which was founded in 1927, has a unique role in Nigeria’s history of secondary education. Due to its location in the eastern part of Nigeria and reputation for high standards and selectivity, GCU was dubbed the “Eton of the East” at the time. The institution was Nigeria’s first secondary government-owned school and was once known as Government College, Umuahia. On the Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene road in Umuahia, Nigeria, there is an independent secondary school for males.
GCU has a history of producing eminent graduates who have achieved success in a variety of industries, including politics, teaching, and the military. The well-known author Chinua Achebe and the modernist painter and sculpture Ben Enwonwu are two among them. Government College Umuahia’s ownership, management, operation, control, and finance were all transferred to the Fisher Educational Trust by the signing of a Deed of Trust with the Abia State government on December 22, 2014. The Government College Umuahia Old Boys Association established the trust.
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7. King’s College, Lagos: King’s College, Lagos, one of the oldest and most famous secondary schools in Nigeria, was established in 1909. It was founded by the British colonial authority and has a long history of offering generations of students a top-notch education. On September 20, 1909, when the school was first established, there were just about 10 students enrolled. Tafawa Balewa Square is just next to Lagos Island, where King’s College, Lagos is located.
King’s College has produced famous alumni who have significantly impacted Nigerian society, including well-known names like African music producer Cobhams Asuquo and film producer Wale Adenuga. Mr. Lomax served as the college’s first headmaster.
8. Barewa College, Zaria: Barewa College, which is situated in Zaria, Kaduna State, was once known as Katsina College. Before settling on Barewa College, it changed its name to Kaduna College in 1938 and then to Government College, Zaria, in 1949.
Hugh Clifford, the British governor general, founded the institution in 1921, and it has since educated countless leaders who have shaped Nigeria’s history, including Yakubu Gowon, Tafawa Balewa, Murtala Mohammed, and others. The academic, athletic, and discipline records of Barewa College are outstanding. It is one of the biggest boarding schools in Northern Nigeria and, up until the early 1960s, it was the most renowned post-primary institution there.
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9. Government College, Ibadan: Government College, Ibadan, also known as GCI, is a secondary school for boys in Ibadan, Nigeria, on the hills of Apata Ganga. It was founded on February 28, 1929. One of the first secondary schools opened in the southwest of Nigeria. Selwyn MacGregor Grier, Director of Education, Southern Provinces, who came up with the concept for the institution, and E. R. Swanston, Inspector of Education, were the individuals who founded Government College Ibadan.
The institution has a prominent alumni list that includes notable figures in politics and academia like Wole Soyinka, Femi Osofisan, and Cyprian Ekwensi, as well as notable writers like Adegoke Adelabu and Femi Osofisan. The first group of students at Government College, which was modeled after British public boarding institutions of the time, consisted of 29 students.
10. Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha: In Onitsha, Anambra State, there is a notable secondary school called Dennis Memorial Grammar School (DMGS). The institution, which was established on January 25th, 1925, has a long history and is renowned for its dedication to academic success and character development.
Bishop Tugwell suggested in 1910 that the Awka Training institution be relocated to Onitsha, where a secondary school should be established in addition to the teacher training institution. DMGS was established in this manner. The university has produced famous graduates, including Professor Kenneth Onwuka Dike, the first history professor from Nigeria, as well as others who have achieved success in the legal, medical, and entrepreneurial professions.
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11. Methodist Girls’ High School, Lagos: Methodist Girls’ High School, formerly Wesleyan Girls’ High School, is a secondary school for women in Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria. With a Nigerian named Rev. E.W. Williams serving as her first Principal, it was constructed by the African Wesleyan Methodist Mission members in 1879. It is associated with the Methodist Church. It is one of the oldest secondary schools for girls in Nigeria.
It is the Methodist Boys High School’s sister school. It was created to provide girls with the kind of education that would enable them to contribute in a real-world and significant way to the stability of family life in society. By teaching girls to the greatest standards, the school hopes to benefit society. Long-standing famous graduates include Chief (Mrs) Folake Solanke (SAN), Alhaja Lateefat Okunnu, Professor Ibiyinka Fuwape, and others.
12. St Anne’s School, Ibadan: Two schools that were established by the CMS mission for the education of girls have been combined to form St. Anne’s School in Ibadan. The CMS mission moved the school to Ibadan in 1950 after determining that the Broad Street, Lagos location was too narrow for expansion.
There, it was merged with KUDETI GIRLS SCHOOL (established in 1899), another CMS missions school that was situated in a sizable woodland tract in Molete, Ibadan. The school was thereafter granted its new name, St. Anne’s. It has paved the way for the advancement of women in the fields of science, business, law, and academia. Examples include Mrs. Dorothy Akanya, née Miller, the first female commissioner in Nigeria, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, etc.
Conclusion: The oldest secondary schools in Nigeria are not just centers of learning, but also archives of tradition and history. Generations of Nigerians have benefited from the great education offered by these schools because they have stood the test of time. Every institution, from Dennis Memorial Grammar institution to CMS Grammar School, has a distinctive history and has produced outstanding graduates who have made vital contributions to Nigeria’s progress. These institutions serve as a constant reminder of the value of a solid foundational education in determining the course of the country as Nigeria’s educational system develops. These institutions continue to inspire and create future generations of leaders who will determine the course of Nigeria for years to come by sustaining their history of academic quality, character development, and societal influence.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.