History Of Secondary Education and its Objectives In Nigeria

Secondary education is the completion of basic education that begins at the primary level and aims at laying the foundations for lifelong learning and human development by offering more subject- or skill-oriented instruction. It is also a bridge between primary education and tertiary education. Secondary education is given in two stages, junior and senior levels, three years each and six years long.

The activities of the Christian Missionaries in Nigeria began in 1842. This same period marked the beginning of Western-type education in the area. The education was necessitated by the need for more personnel to spread the gospel to the increasing audience. The early missionary education was limited to the elementary school level. It was not until 1859 that the Church Missionary Society made the first bold move to establish the CMS Grammar School, Lagos.

Some decades after the development of primary education, the government gave attention to secondary education, particularly when the need for outputs of primary schools to further their education in secondary schools became paramount.

The colonial government, for a very long time, did not complement the efforts of the Christian Missions in providing secondary education until 1909, when King’s College, Lagos, was established as the first government-owned secondary school.

According to Adesina and Fafunwa, many ordinances were promulgated to improve the state of secondary education in Nigeria. Throughout the time the country was under colonial government, there were few secondary schools to provide secondary education for those willing to acquire it.

Statistics indicate that the number of secondary schools increased from 161 in 1955 to 275 in 1956, 297 in 1957, 303 in 1958, 305 in 1959, and 311 in 1960. Since the country’s independence, secondary education has continued to grow in number and enrolment. In particular, the number of secondary schools increased from 1,227 in 1960 to 1,654 in 1965; 6, 231 in 1985, 6,279,462 in 2004, 6,398,343 in 2005 and 6,536,038 in 2006 while also enrolment increased from 168, 309 in 1960 to 252, 586 in 1965, 3, 807,755 in 1985 and 6,536,038 in 2006.


  • Provide an increasing number of primary school pupils with no opportunity for education of a higher quality, irrespective of sex or social, religious, and ethnic background;
  • Diversify its curriculum to cater to differences in talents, opportunities, and roles possessed by or open to students after their secondary school course.
  • Equip students to live effectively in our modern age of science and technology.
  • Develop and project Nigerian culture, art, and language, as well as the world’s cultural heritage;
  • Raise a generation of people who can think for themselves, respect the views and feelings of others, respect the dignity of labour, appreciate those values specified under our broad national aims, and live as good citizens;
  • Faster Nigerian unity with an emphasis on the common lies that unite us in our diversity;
  • Inspire its students with a desire for achievement and self-improvement at school and later in life.
  • Providing technical knowledge and vocational skills necessary for agricultural, industrial, commercial, and economic development

Read: Causes of collapse in standard of education in Nigeria

Bolarinwa Olajire

A tutor with a demonstrated history of working in the education industry. Skilled in analytical skills. Strong education professional with a M. SC focused in condensed matter. You can follow me on Twitter by clicking on the icon below to ask questions.

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