History of Educational Technology in Nigeria

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Certain historians argue that educational technology has been around in Nigeria since time immemorial. Aniemeka (2005) succinctly laid out descriptions of how educational technology was put into practice even before the country was created.

The origin of Educational Technology in Nigeria began with simplified technologies to facilitate teaching such as lesson notes and instructional materials. Later, it evolved to the use of audio-visuals (radio and TV) to aid teaching. 

Today, Educational Technology, or “EdTech”, in Nigeria is broadly computerized and integrated into institutions of higher learning and supported by several agencies such as the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), National Universities Commission (NUC), etc.

The gradual improvement of Educational Technology in Nigeria could not have been possible without its long history, involving missionary activities and support from local schools and the government. Studying history would help us know how far “EdTech” has gone and can serve as an impetus to remodel ideas to make learning with Technology even more fun.

History of Educational Technology in Nigeria

The earliest use of Educational technology in Nigeria began before the 1800s advent of the missionaries and the introduction of Quranic Schools in Nigeria. The then Nigeria inhabitants already had a system of education in place for its citizens. It was informal. 

Early Beginnings

Siblings, parents, families and adult members of the society exerted efforts to make sure a newly born child is provided the right opportunities and environment for learning. 

Growing up, the child is made to acquire basic and necessary knowledge, skills, morals and education that will develop him/her into a responsible adult who will take care of his family and contribute significantly to societal development. This was the case in a lot of communities across Nigeria despite the differences in culture. 

Specifically, the technology used during this period was rudimentary. Concrete objects like stones, pebbles and sticks were used in teaching young children how to count and solve simple calculations. Symbols were used to demonstrate and disseminate information. Young ones were made to regurgitate simple words after their parents. Imitation, acronyms and modelling were also utilized to ensure an effective process. No child, essentially, was made to grow in isolation, but in a socialized peer-group environment.

The curriculum during this period was not written anywhere. It was quite intensive though, covering several modern subjects like geography, history, social studies, religious knowledge, fine arts and crafts etc. However, the focus of the curriculum was not only based on knowledge and skills but also on the acquisition of proper morals and behaviour.

Summative evaluations were conducted to measure a student’s performance while formative evaluations were done to guide learning. Cane was adopted in situations where the individual was deemed “too” sluggish or had an indifferent attitude towards learning. 

This early development of Educational Technology in Nigeria would later serve as the backbone for adapting to the technology brought in by religious missionaries in the 1800s.

The Era of Religious Missionaries

The arrival of Christian Missionaries and Islamic Clerics was a turning point in Nigeria’s historical development of educational technology. The missionaries established mission schools. In 1842, the first school in Nigeria was established in Badagry by the Wesleyan Christian Missionaries. In the North, Quranic schools were established. However, in terms of technology, Western Education was gaining more traction than Islamic education.

History of Educational Technology in Nigeria
The First School in Nigeria

In this Era, the idea of adopting technology into education was growing. Simple, low-cost teaching aids were adopted. There was more emphasis on the preparation of lesson notes, statement of the lesson objectives, use of chalkboards and other teaching apparatus

Did you know? In the 1800s, chalkboards were known as blackboards as they usually came in “black” colours.

The advancement in educational technology in this period could also be attributed to the establishment of teacher training colleges that helped teachers, especially in the primary school system. Some of the training colleges at the time include St. Andrew’s Teacher Training College, Oyo and Wesley College, Ibadan. The student teachers were made to see the importance of using “teaching aids” while teaching. 

By the end of the 1800s, the religious missionaries had set a blueprint for educational technology in Nigeria with a new use of instructional materials and improvisations.

The Era of Radio and Audio-Visuals

This Era witnessed a lot of active support from the Nigerian government. A bold step was taken by the government to launch educational broadcasting throughout the country. They did this by first encouraging instructional radio and later on, instructional television. Matter-of-factly, the first educational broadcast in Nigeria started in 1953, via the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) which was established in 1951.

The Northern Nigerian Government took the clue from this when in 1954, the School Broadcasting Unit (SBU) was established in Kaduna. 

In 1957, the NBS was instituted into the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). This was followed by another landmark for Educational Technology in Nigeria: the Western Nigerian Ministry of Education’s Audio Visual/Centre at Ibadan, and NBC collaborated to broadcast their first educational programme.

The Western Nigerian Government had now recorded some successes. The government proceeded to establish the first television in Africa in 1959 with the establishment of the Western Nigeria Television (WNTV). It was ground-breaking!   

Cameraman on duty at WNTV in Agodi, Ibadan.

The establishment of the WNTV was aimed only at Secondary Grammar Schools and Teacher Training Collegetoto reduced teaching deficiencies in subjects such as sciences and provided examples of good teaching to help upgrade the general quality of classroom instructional activities.

In the early 1960s, at the intervention of the Federal Government, the School Broadcasting Unit (SBU) which was established earlier in Kaduna had its name changed to the Educational Radio Service Unit (ERSU) in the first instance, and later to Federal School Broadcast and Audio-Visual Aids Development Centre.

Again, in 1977, based on the need to expand the functions of the body, ERSU was changed to the National Educational Technology Centre (NETC), Kaduna. This particular action taken by the Federal Government was regarded by researchers as the climax of the FG’s involvement in the field of educational broadcasting in Nigeria.

Part of the primary roles of the NETC were producing Educational Radio and Television programmes for primary and secondary schools; establishing a National Educational Resource Library of equipment and materials for distribution throughout the country; training educational technologists; and documentation and collation of statistical data on the broadcast and audio-visual aids services in the country.

Intervention from Foreign Bodies

Over the years, Nigeria received tremendous contributions from foreign bodies and organizations. Some of them include the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Ford Foundation, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the Carnegie Foundation, the Centre for Educational Development Overseas (CEDO), as well as the British Council. 

As early as 1962, UNESCO sponsored projects at the Institutes of Education, University of Ibadan. An audio-visual Unit was established in the Institute. Through the institute, UNESCO introduced New Methods and Techniques in Educational Practices. The programmed learning method and its application were also introduced.

Other foreign bodies served different purposes. The Ford Foundation and the British Broadcasting Corporation assisted the old Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (now Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria) in establishing its Schools Unit in 1960.

From the 2000 until Now

Starting from the year 2000, EdTech took a leap in Nigeria. Many first-generation Nigerian universities including Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), University of Nigeria (UNN) and University of Lagos, are now equipped with an Educational Technology Centre.

Educational Technology and Micro-teaching are two courses that students in Colleges of Education must take and pass before graduation. The field of educational technology though relatively young in the country, has produced several Nigerian academics. Among them are: Balogun Taju, Nwabonu Nwaboku, Onyejemezie, Abdullahi, Abolade, and A. Agun amongst others.

There’s been an advancement in the design of educational content and multimedia for learning with the use of teaching and learning packages, online platforms, audio-visual instructional materials, overhead projectors, charts, and other non-book instructional support materials. Designs of multimedia such as CD-ROM, DVD, and VCD (text graphics, audio, video, and animation) have also been explored in recent years. 

Also, the Federal Government is making deliberate efforts to integrate technology into the educational system, through various agencies: Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), National Universities Commission (NUC), National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), etc. 

Wrap-up

We hope this article has done justice to the history of educational technology in Nigeria. We’ve done our best to cover its history from the pre-missionary and post-missionary eras up to its current state.

If there’s any more information you need, you can write us in the comment section.

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