A Historical Reconstruction of the Colonial Government’s Education Expenditure in Nigeria and the Place of the Girl-Child, 1940-1957

Adetunji Ojo Ogunyemi


Gendered provision of formal education in any clime, is central to redressing the imbalance between male and female children’s access to schools and colleges. But this was not the case under Nigeria’s colonial administration from the inception of the alien rule at about the middle of the 19th century to the decolonisation period in the concluding years of the 1950s. Although public expenditure on education gradually increased after World War II especially on the founding of government schools and the provision of educational infrastructure across the country, it was Christian Missionaries rather than the government that blazed the trail in specifically addressing the issue of deliberate expansion of opportunities for female pupils in terms of increased enrolment in schools and colleges in southern Nigeria. This effort started in 1879 with the founding of the first girls-only secondary school in the yet to be constituted Nigeria, the Methodist Girls High School in Lagos, followed by St Anne’s School, Molete, Ibadan which was founded in 1896. The first colonial government direct investment in the founding of girls only secondary school only came about thirty decades after when Queen’s College was founded, albeit reluctantly, in 1927. Hence, this study only seeks to survey the size and quantum of colonial expenditure on education pursuant to its financial assistance to schools and colleges in the period, 1939-1957 and to discuss how  gender sensitive this financial expenditure was. The study therefore interrogates the extent to which the British colonial expenditure on education from the period of World War II to the emergence of the first indigenous Nigerian government directly impacted on girl-child education, measured in terms of the number of girls-only secondary schools founded by or directly assisted financially by the colonial government during the indicated period.

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