The Creation of Government College Ibadan

The Phelps-Jones Commission Report on education in Africa (1922) had among other things urged all concerned to distinguish clearly the educational needs which were: The education of the masses, and the preparation of professional men who must pass the conventional requirements of British Universities. It also recommended that the school system in each province should provide a central teacher training school with boarding facilities.

Mr. S.M. Grier, later to become Sir Selwyn as Governor for the Leeward Islands, was Secretary for Native Affairs (Nigeria) in the middle twenties. As it was not, and is still not, unusual in the civil service he was moved from that post to that of Director of Education, Southern Provinces. To Whitehall, direction was direction, be it the direction of the affairs of the natives of His Majesty's territories in Africa or the direction of the education of their children. And if Mr. Grier succeeded in one assignment why should he not succeed in any other? But Mr. Grier himself knew better. He was a modest man, quite aware of his limitations as a non-educationist. He sought and found an ideal partner in Mr. E.R. Swanston.

Until then one of His Majesty's Inspectors of Education, Mr. Swanston was well qualified for his new appointment in Nigeria. He saw at once that Southern Nigeria's greatest need was for more and better teachers. Mr. Grier had a profound respect for Swanston's ability and fully endorsed his policy for better training facilities for teachers for the elementary schools. Already a number of Mission college in Ibadan were training teachers. Mr. Swanston decided that Government itself must go more into the field both to show the Missionary bodies how to do better what they were already doing reasonably well, and to increase the number of teachers available to teach in the elementary school. This is because by 1915, Government had already opened two Normal Colleges for teachers training, one at Bonny (for the East) and the other at Warri (for the West).

Government decided to build two teacher training institutions in Southern Nigeria one on each side of Niger. Umuahia in Owerri Province was selected as the site for the college east of the Niger and Ibadan in Oyo Province was selected as the site for the other west of the River. Each college was to have boarding facilities and a demonstration school. Funds were easily made available for the buildings and not subjected to the protracted delays that are associated today with the release of funds even for approved projects. And so Government College Ibadan was founded on February 28, 1929.

29 students were offered places to report at the College on May 29, 1929.The first Principal was the Rev. Capt. C.E. Squire, M.A., M.C. who was transferred from a school in India. In addition to Rev. Squire, the foundation staff included W.B. Benton-Evans, V.B.V. Powell, G.N. Herington, Dr. W.C. Dale and J. Hoskins. There were two ladies: Miss N.B. Macdonald and Miss K.E. Morley.

~ From Built On The Rock - The First 25 years