Formal education in Nigeria is traceable to the efforts of European Missionaries around 1842. Education at this time was regarded as of funda mental importance to the spread of Christianity (Esu 1997). Thus, education introduced at this early stages was interwoven with Christian evan gelism. The missionaries established and ran the early schools in Nigeria. They also designed the curriculum for such schools and devoted their mea gre resources to the opening of schools for young Nigerians
All missionaries who came to Nigeria combined evangelical and educational work together. Consequently, early mission schools were founded by the Methodist Church of Scotland Mission , the Church Missionary Society (CMS) and the Roman Catholics.
By 1882, the CMS. had seventeen elemen tary and infant day schools for boys and girls in var 1 ious parts of Lagos. Nine of these schools were under the direction of the Lagos Church of England School Board while others were managed by the local board of the Church Missionary Society.
However, the spread of western education in the north was not as smooth as it was in the south. This was because the north had enjoyed the Islamic system of education for many years before intro » duction of western education. However, efforts were made by different missions to open primary schools in the north (See Table 6.2.2) The subjects taught in majority of the elementary schools includ i ed: Scripture, English Compositions, English Grammar, Arithmetic, Geography, Music, Singing, Reading, Writing, Dictation, and for girls Sewing (Fafunwa 1974). The emphasis in the infant class f es was on the teaching of the 3 Rs (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic). The growth of schools was, however, limited by lack of funds and sometimes parents' unwillingness to send their children especially girls to school.