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THE CHURCH AND EDUCATION IN NIGERIA

RUNDOWN
The history of education, not just in Nigeria but in the whole world, acclaims the Church as a lover,
promoter and custodian of education in all its forms. Starting from the Carolingian schools of
Charlemagne through to the University schools of the 13th century and the Dark Ages and on to our
own time, we can testify to that fact without fear or favour. Narrowing it down to Nigeria, we also
see the same trend being replayed. Education, formal education of course, was brought to us by the
Missionaries who came to evangelize Nigeria in the 19th century. Since then the Church has remained
at the forefront in the education sector in Nigeria at all levels. While some private participants in the
sector take it as business, the Church has always understood education as part of her apostolate, an
inevitable corollary to her apostolic life and mission. Unfortunately, the Church was dealt a sudden
and ungrateful blow by those who had hitherto drunk from her milk of education, when shortly after
the Civil War (1967-70), the government of Nigeria seized most of the Mission Schools. History can
avow that that was the beginning of the Dark Age in Nigeria, so to say, not only in education, though
majorly, but in every other institution and segment of our dear country. Among other indices, one
may just consider the alarming rate of students flight and plight abroad. Sure, the government was
running the schools but the difference was clear. Why?
THE CHURCHS RECIPE FOR EDUCATION
One of the unique features of Church education is her dedication to the integral development of the
human person. The Church offers both qualitative and quantitative education. No doubt, the Church
is synonymous with academic and intellectual excellence. However, she does not end there. She
inculcates deep spiritual and moral values in her wards. She trains them in the fear of God as well as
of man. The Church is a promoter of discipline. She teaches properly the rule of law and orderliness.
She understands the meaning of respect, diligence, integrity, punctuality and other virtues on the
parts of both the teachers and the taught. The Church is known to have a fixed, regular and uniform
timetable and syllabus, daily and yearly, and abides by a standard schedule. In addition, Church
education is readily available and easily affordable. The Church has schools and provisions for all
classes of people and her schools are always close by. Also, as much as she can, the Church equips
her institutions with adequate facilities and infrastructure to aid the learning process. There is no
gainsaying that she provides an efficient and conducive atmosphere to enable her students
concentrate and excel. In examinations, both internal and external, the results are usually mouth-
watering. The Church believes in and conducts her affairs based on merit. To work or acquire
education in a Church-owned academic institution, one will definitely have to be qualified and
continue to prove ones worth because there are no shortcut keys. Nevertheless, like a dutiful and
caring mother, the Church does not treat her less bright students with contempt or scorn. She
continues to give them more aid and opportunity to pick up and soar like the rest. She does not abet
delinquencies and criminal activities, whether in or out of school. She is just in handling issues,
never minding whose ox is gored. Church schools are truly a bastion of moral, mental, physical and
all-round fitness. She imparts a balanced and genuine human formation. She not just teaches but
empowers. She believes in her children as the leaders of tomorrow and thus prepares them for the
future through an educative learning of the past and a fruitful living of the present.
WHAT CAN THE GOVERNMENT DO?
We commend the different arms of government who have been courageous enough to seek to correct
some of the mistakes of the past by returning mission schools to the Church. In the same vein, those
who have not are also urged to do so, for the good of the students and the nation at large. Then, for
those who have done so, we further poke ask them to sincerely and properly clarify and define
ownership of the returned schools because some communities are already at loggerheads and even in
court with the Church over ownership of some returned schools. Furthermore, the government ought
to realize that while they took those schools from the Church, the Church did not fold her arms idly
in self-pity. Being ever-resourceful and committed, the Church has built and oversees many more
schools and institutions over the years. Therefore, the government should not simply return these
schools but by way of restitution, pay for the value or perhaps devaluation of these schools all these
years, as if they were on lease and not brutally snatched. Even if they would not offer any
compensation for the long, unjust and degenerative confiscation of the schools, or that the Church
would not accept if they offered, the government should at least support voluntarily and continuously
these mission school to reduce the liability on the Church and help maintain affordable education by
a sort of mission schools subsidy.
Truly, the government has her own schools and other numerous concerns to contend with, but this is
a noble task that would benefit our motherland. Mission schools are schools for the masses. Most of
those in the government and other high places today are products of these mission schools. A large
chunk of our population attends and graduates from mission schools. The government should not
perceive mission schools as rivals to the government schools but as partners and promoters of
suitable education for all. To that regard, both the government and well-meaning individuals and
organizations should endeavour to support the Churchs effort to help all men attain their dreams of
sound education. That notwithstanding, we continue to exhort the government to improve the quality
of education she offers and to equip her schools better. Nonetheless, if she feels she cannot handle
the onerous burden of providing and sustaining standard education, just as she is now privatizing
some of her institutions and agencies, she can also be bold enough to invite the Church to run the
government schools to ameliorate the distressed state of education in Nigeria and to ensure a well-
grounded and holistic formation of her wards.
CONCERNS
Be that as it may, while we extol the wonderful contributions of the Church towards education, we
feel obliged to point out certain pertinent areas of concern in mission schools. The lament of poor
feeding is no longer news especially in mission boarding facilities. Also, the students are made to
indulge in heavy work, even to the point of drudgery. Again, poor remuneration of mission staff
seems to be endemic to the system. Workers are assured of their heavenly reward, according to the
Holy Writ, which same Book also emphasizes that a labourer deserves his wages. The bottom-line is
that the Church also complains of lacks of funds; no money. Ironically, that is the same complaint we
usually hear from the government when responsibilities arise, even though we also frequently hear
from the media how much of the so-called no-money is embezzled. We hope it is not when such
happens in the Church that there would now be money, unexplained and uncounted for. Above all,
the Church should not rest on her oars that she offers the best education and trains the best character.
These days, people rather send delinquents to mission schools for automatic conversion after a
careless and malformed home upbringing. Sadly, some of these are hard to correct and consequently
pollute some of the good eggs meanwhile. So the Church really needs to pay closer attention to
criminal tendencies and criminal elements within her institutions and take adequate measures and
precautions. More still, to ensure a solid orientation of the students with regard to their future plans
and aspirations, the system should provide good skills, career and professional counseling so our
youths do not end up in the wrong career or unsuited vocation, which would bring frustration for
them later in life. Finally, the Church should realize that she is the last hope of the common man for
good education and hence, continue to improve on her laudable standards.