History of the development of higher education in Nigeria

History of the development of higher education in Nigeria

The history of the development of higher education in Nigeria will be incomplete without consideration of the report of Ashby commission and its role in the nation’s education development. According to fafunwa(1971:151),higher education in Nigeria moved into its second phase of development with the setting up of the Ashby commission s assignment was to conduct an investigation into Nigeria’s need in the field of post school certificate and higher education over the next twenty years by 1960 the report of the commission entitled in education was submitted to the federal government.

              In the area of higher education, the commission observed that there are not enough opportunities for Nigerians to gain admission into higher educational institution. In the view of the commissioners, the only university college at Ibadan was far from being enough. Therefore it recommended the establishment of four new universities in Enugu, Zaria, Ibadan and lagos. However, the federal government approved the setting up of five universities instead of the four suggested by the commission, thus by the end of 1962, there were four universities in Nigeria as follows ibadan, Nsukka, Zaria, Ifeand lagos. While ibadan and lagos were owned by the federal government Nsukka, Zaria and Ife were regional universities. In term of historical sequence,

              The Ashby commission observed that there was a gravely inadequate supply of trained and educated teachers on Nigeria secondary Grammar schools, even when there was an incensement in demand more of this category of education, the most relevant recommendation of the Ashby commission were.

  1. The opening of more universities
  2. The institution of a bachlor’s degree in education ie B.A (ED), BSC. (Ed) or BED;
  3. The training of more teachers for the national secondary schools.
Recommended:  Influence of classroom condition on student performance in secondary schools in Izzi Local Government Area.

       According to Adeyinka in 1988, stated that certain categories of education institutions are changed with the responsibility of giving the required professional ‘training for teacher, these are

  1. Grade II teachers colleges
  2. Advances of teachers colleges
  3. College of education
  4. Institutes of education
  5. National teachers institute

       He was meant to produce 163000 additional teachers estimated for the scheme to obtain this large number of teachers trainers.

       Ashby commission did not give its recommendations only in respect of the establishment of the universities and polytechnics and also report the covered entire gamut of education ranging from primary and secondary education, the sixth form, teacher training and supply, technical and commercial education, agricultural and veterinary education and the universities Fufunwa 1971, During its deliberations the commission found out that most of 80,000 teachers in service were poorly trained for teaching and they lack professional training

       The first generation of these institution were established in the early and middle 1960s. By taiwo (1980:46) and after the first generation colleges of education were established, many other colleges of education have been set up and there are now in 1996, 56 colleges of education in the country out of this numbers, 20 are owned by the government 35 by the state government and one is run by a private organization.

       One of the development in these area which are indirectly referred to previous was the appointed by the federal government in 1982 for seven colleges of education to run first degree courses in education. as explained by government, this was part of the measures taken to ensure that qualified high level manpower was available on the nations educational institutions


       In other words, in the area of teacher education particularly, Nigeria higher education has made remarkable progress.


       An attempts have been made in this chapter to trace the history of the development of higher education in Nigeria efforts were made to follow the historical sequence of the establishment of the institutions and to cover as widely as possible the different categories of higher educational institutions. From the discussion, it was shown that Nigeria currently has 34 full-fledged universities, 40 polytechnics, 56 colleges of education and 34 colleges of agriculture. It is equally clear that with these vast array of universities and other higher educational institutions, Nigeria appears fairly well prepared to grapple with the manpower requirements of the 21st century.


Ajayi, k. (1995). Reflections on the Nigerian Education system: A college provost’s perspective. Abeokuta: Osiele Consult Services.

Fafunwa, A.B. (1991). History of education in Nigeria. Ibadan: NPS Educational Administration Publishers Ltd.

Nwuzor, R.A. and Ocho, l. O. (1985). History of Education. Enugu: Chuka Printing Company Ltd.

Okafor, N. (1971). The Development of Universities in Nigeria, London: Longman Group ltd.


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