THE STATE TAKE‐OVER OF SCHOOLS IN NIGERIA: A CONTROVERSY

Pages75-86
Publication Date01 Jan 1979
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/eb009808
AuthorNICHOLAS A. NWAGWU
SubjectEducation
THE JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION
VOLUME XVII, NUMBER 1 MAY, 1979
THE STATE TAKE-OVER OF SCHOOLS IN NIGERIA: A
CONTROVERSY
NICHOLAS A. NWAGWU
Until the middle of the 20th Century, all the governments of the various regions in
Nigeria did was to give grants-in-aid to the voluntary agencies that operated approved
schools while a few "government schools" were established in a few strategic towns.
After the Nigeria-Biafra civil war in 1970, some State governments took over the
complete ownership and control of all educational institutions in their areas of juris-
diction. The educational policies and practices of the voluntary agencies were
condemned as being foreign-oriented, irrelevant to Nigeria's needs, and divisive in the
sense that denominational schools encouraged religious and tribal bigotry and un-
healthy rivalry among the citizens. It was also argued that state take-over of all schools
would enable the government to plan the education system as part of the national
integrated plan for social and economic development. The author supports greater
control of the education system by the government and indeed a state take-over of
voluntary schools based on mutual agreement. However, voluntary agencies and
private individuals should be allowed to own and run their own schools completely at
their own expense within the broad framework of government regulations. However,
many Nigerians objected to the unilateral seizure and control of church and private
schools by the government. People argued that it was illegal to dispossess the
voluntary agencies of schools they built mostly with their own resources without first
of all working out an agreement with them which should include adequate
compensation.
The question of the take-over of
all
mission and private schools by the
State Government is a very controversial issue not only in Nigeria but also
in many countries in Africa and the third world. The issue is not just the
control of the administration and organization of
schools.
Indeed, church
missionary groups and private individuals who own schools have for a
long time accepted the authority and right of the State government to
plan, supervise and control the educational system of the country. The
point of contention is whether the government can summarily dispossess
private individuals and church organizations of their schools and ban the
opening of new schools by such bodies. For a proper understanding of the
controversy, it is necessary to examine briefly the early history of edu-
cation in Nigeria as fitting background information to the issue of State
take-over of schools.
NICHOLAS A. NWAGWU is Associate Professor and Acting Dean, Faculty of Education,
University of Benin, Nigeria. He holds the degrees of B.A. (Nsukka), M.Ed. (Leicester),
M.A. and Ed.D. (Columbia). Dr Nwagwu has published extensively in the field of edu-
cational administration and has travelled widely.

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