One of the most effective tools of colonization in Africa was education. In Nigeria, the vast majority of the populace at the time of the British rule were pagans and one of the ways the British were able to influence the system of thinking of this populace was by training their children in schools.
The Baptist and the Anglican were at the fore front in establishing the first schools. Although these two Christian missions went on to establish scores of primary and secondary schools across the nation, sometimes it is often argued which of them founded the first primary school.
The first primary school was established in the Badagry area of Lagos. This region lies along the Atlantic Coast. At this point, the borders of Lagos share a boundary with Benin Republic at Seme.
One of the major problems at this time was slave trade which had gone on for decades but was beginning to reduce as a result of British colonization and influence. Also, the activities of the Christian mission activities were rapidly increasing.
This was what led to the founding of the Nursery Infant Church by the Baptist Mission in 1843. However, this school wasn’t known by this name for long as the Methodist would later leave it to establish other schools in another location in central Lagos.
The Anglican Mission through the Church Missionary Society took over this school and rechristened it St. Thomas Anglican Nursery and Primary School in 1845.
But the question on the lips of many today is, “where is the oldest primary school in Nigeria presently?”
Unfortunately, over 160 years later, this school only exists in the sand of times and in distant memories of their esteemed founders.
However, not too long after the first primary school was established in Lagos, another interesting story was being written in the northern part of Nigeria.
This region had resisted Western Education for so long and the Christian Missions were unable to establish any form of education there until Samuel Ajayi Crowther who had just been ordained as the first African Bishop finally broke through and established the first primary school in Lokoja, Kogi State.
Kogi was the headquarters of the North during the colonial era and this seem to have influenced the establishment of the school there.
The school was named the Bishop Crowther LGA Primary School and shares the same ground with the Holy Trinity Anglican Church. It is presently being managed by the government; however, it has since been renamed the Holy Trinity Primary School.
Presently, this school which ought to be a historical edifice is suffering serious neglect. The school has four classroom blocks, with each classroom having a maximum capacity of 30 pupils. However, these classrooms are overcrowded with more than 50 pupils. The overcrowded classrooms coupled with the dilapidated structure of the school shows how much attention this school really needs.
There are indications that the government intends to rehabilitate this historic relic and convert it to a site of tourist attraction.
However, if these steps are not taken soon enough, it just a matter of time before this school suffers the same fate as its counterpart in the southern part of Nigeria.