Christian missionaries were the first to introduce academic education into the Nigerian environment back in the day. The schools they established became known as missionary schools, and there’s at least one for every state in Nigeria.
If you’re interested in the history of missionary schools in Nigeria, learning about the best and most popular ones should interest you. So, this article will show you the 18 best missionary schools in Nigeria to help you choose the best for your kids or learn more about the history of education in Nigeria.
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What are Missionary Schools?
As explained earlier, missionary schools are schools created by Christian or Islamic missionaries to introduce foreign education and values to the local population. In the Nigerian context, it’s the colonizers introducing Western religion, language, and values to the local Nigerian people.
The initial goal of missionary schools was to train teachers and religious leaders to champion a religious cause, which explains why most missionary schools were heavily denominational. For instance, St. Patrick’s College in Calabar was established as a Catholic alternative to the Presbyterian colleges that were slowly becoming the majority in that part of the country.
It’s also worth noting that although there were a few Islamic missionary schools, the vast majority are from Christian and Catholic missionaries, so much so that many Nigerians now use ‘missionary schools’ synonymously with ‘Christian schools.’
Over the past few years, there have been efforts by the Nigerian government to seize control of missionary schools, altering their calendars, and making them less denominational. Even with those efforts, there are still a couple left, and the following section will list some of the most prominent.
18 Best Missionary Schools in Nigeria
Here are the 18 best missionary schools in Nigeria:
1. CMS Grammar School, Lagos
CMS Grammar School is reputed to be the oldest secondary school in Nigeria, established by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in 1859. In its inaugural year, the school had only six pupils, led by Principal Babington Macaulay, the father of Herbert Macaulay.
Its original location was Broad Street, like most other old missionary schools in Lagos, but it was eventually relocated to Bariga in Lagos. Most of the early students at CMS Grammar would go on to become clerics and clergymen. Some of the school’s most notable alumni include nationalist Herbert Macaulay, former President Ernest Shonekan, and veteran musician 9ice.
2. Christ The King College, Onitsha
Christ The King College, commonly known as CKC Onitsha, is easily one of the most popular missionary schools in Nigeria. Founded on February 2, 1933, the school has a growing list of notable alumni, including former NBA President Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), and a former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi.
Christ The King College is a frequent entrant on lists of the best secondary schools in Africa, and it’s widely regarded as the best in Nigeria. It’s also one of the few missionary schools in Nigeria with active alumni associations in Nigeria and beyond.
3. St. Mary’s Catholic Model High School
St. Mary’s Catholic Model High is one of the newer generation missionary schools in Nigeria, as it only opened to the public on September 25, 2006. The school is headed by Rev. Sr. Mary Breda Chilaka as principal as at the time of this publication, and the management consists of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ, pointing to its strong Catholic structure.
4. Ansar-Ud-Deen (AUD) Group of Schools
Ansar-Ud-Deen is a Muslim missionary organization founded in 1923 with a mission to develop Muslims academically, morally, and socially. To meet this objective, it started establishing schools across the country. Ansar-Ud-Deen colleges are more widespread in southwestern Nigeria, but their schools are also spread across other geopolitical zones in the country.
Some popular Ansar-Ud-Deen schools in Nigeria include AUD Senior Secondary School, Ilorin, AUD Elementary School, Osogbo, AUD College Girls High School, Itire (Lagos), and AUD College, Isolo (Lagos).
5. St. Gregory’s College
St. Gregory’s College is one of the first co-educational missionary schools in Lagos, founded in 1928 by the Catholic mission in Lagos. The school features boarding facilities and is located barely a stone-throw away from the popular Tafawa Balewa Square in Ikoyi-Obalende, Lagos.
6. Lagos Baptist Academy
Lagos Baptist Academy is one of the oldest missionary schools in Nigeria, established in Broad Street, Lagos, by the Baptist missionaries in 1855, as the name implies. As the school expanded and more students joined, the secondary section relocated to Ikorodu Road, Obanikoro, where it stands today.
7. Methodist Boys High School & Methodist Girls High School
Methodist Boys High School was established by Methodist Community leaders in 1878 as a boys-only secondary school for members of the movement. Like Lagos Baptist Academy, the school was initially located on Broad Street and remained there for over a century before eventually moving to Victoria Island in Lagos.
Recognizing the need for female education, the Methodist Missionaries established a sister school to Methodist Boys High just one year after opening it to the public. This time, it’s exclusive to girls and uses a feminine curriculum that focuses on subjects like home economics and sewing.
Surprisingly, the schools aren’t located in the same area; while Methodist Boys High now operates from Victoria Island, Methodist Girls High is at Yaba in Lagos.
8. Hillcrest School, Jos
Hillcrest is not the average Nigerian’s idea of a missionary school, but it ticks all the boxes and then some. The school was initially established in 1942, but it wasn’t until 1946 that the school moved to its present location in Jos. Unlike most other missionary schools in Nigeria, it was founded by a conglomerate of 10 missionaries and still runs as a private school.
9. St. Teresa College, Ibadan
St. Teresa’s College is a girl’s only missionary secondary school established in 1933 to establish spiritual, religious, and academic knowledge for the girl child. With its unique brown and white uniform, it’s one of the most iconic missionary schools in Nigeria, having graduated notable alumni like controversial journalist Kemi Olunloyo and former Nigerian First Lady Late Stella Obasanjo.
10. Holy Rosary College, Enugu
The Holy Rosary College in Enugu is unlike most other missionary schools in Nigeria, as it’s neither for primary nor secondary school students. Rather, it was originally a center for continuing education aimed at teaching Christian girls to become teachers.
As the name implies, it was originally established and run by the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary, the same organization responsible for founding Queen of the Rosary Secondary School. Since it opened in 1935, it has trained thousands of girls, producing some notable alumni in the process. Also, it has been converted into a regular girls’ secondary school, catering to a wider section of the populace.
11. Lagos Anglican Girls Grammar School
Lagos Anglican Girls Grammar School was established in 1955 by the Anglican Communion to educate the girl child both academically and religiously. The school was taken over by the Federal Government in 1976, but it returned to being a missionary school when Former Governor Bola Tinubu’s administration returned it to the Anglican Communion in 2001, marking an uplifting period in the school’s history.
12. Wesley College, Elekuro, Ibadan
Like the Holy Rosary College, Wesley College of Science in Ibadan was originally a teacher training college founded in 1905 by Methodist missionaries to train the next crop of teachers in southwest Nigeria. Over time, however, it became a regular senior secondary school and is now run by the Oyo State Government.
Due to its age, the college has graduated several distinguished alumni in Nigeria, including veteran Nigerian writer Tai Solarin and the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
13. St. Francis Catholic Secondary School
St. Francis Catholic Secondary School in Lagos is a member of a conglomerate of highly-religious private Jesuit schools geared toward the intellectual, physical, and spiritual development of students. Founded by Francis Cusimano in 1990, it has since been run by the North-West Africa Province of the Society of Jesus as a private school.
14. St. Anne’s School, Molete, Ibadan
St. Anne’s School was formed in 1950 through a merger between CMS Girls School (Lagos) and Kudeti Girls School. Since both merging colleges were missionary schools, it’s only natural that St. Anne’s also automatically became a missionary school.
The school often claims to be the oldest girls’ secondary school in Nigeria, and the claim has some basis. CMS Girls School, established in 1869, was formerly the oldest girls school. Since it was one of the parties to the merger that created St. Anne’s School, describing the latter as the oldest girls’ school isn’t completely untrue.
15. St. James Middle School, Osogbo
St. James Middle School, formerly known as St. James Grammar School, Osogbo, is one of the several missionary schools sprinkled across Osun State. Founded in 1980, it’s not one of the oldest secondary schools in Nigeria, but it’s certainly one of the few prominent ones in Osun State.
16. Queen of the Rosary Secondary School, Gboko
The Holy Rosary Sisters established Queen of the Rosary Secondary School in Gboko to address the absence of secondary schools for girls in Northern Nigeria. As a Catholic missionary school, the school aims to graduate girls complete in both knowledge and character, and it has managed to do that with relative success throughout its relatively lengthy history.
17. St. Patrick’s College, Calabar
St. Patrick’s College in Calabar was established in 1934 to address the growing need for a Catholic secondary school in the Mid-West. Before its establishment, the only options for students after Catholic education were Christ the King College (Onitsha) and St. Charles (Onitsha).
The college operates as a boarding school with provisions for food, extracurricular activities, and, most importantly, unrivaled academic performance. Since its founding, it has consistently made the list of the best missionary schools in Nigeria.
18. Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja
Loyola Jesuit College is a member of the conglomerate of newer-generation Jesuit colleges in Nigeria founded by the Jesuit Society in 1996. It’s one of the more expensive missionary schools in Nigeria, but it’s a full boarding school with top-of-the-line accommodations, so the extra cost seems justified.
60 of the 107 fatalities in the Sosoliso plane crash were students of Loyola Jesuit College, an event that’s probably the darkest period in the school’s history. For what it’s worth, one of the two survivors from the plane crash, Kechi Okwuchi, became a finalist on America’s Got Talent.
Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, a veteran Nigerian technologist and the cofounder of Flutterwave and Andela, is also one of the most well-known Loyola Jesuit alumni.
Missionary schools are becoming fewer and fewer in Nigeria, as the need for fundamental religious education for Nigerians declines; most Nigerians are religious anyway. If you’d still rather send your kids to a Christian or Islamic missionary school, it’s a good thing to know you still have options; at least 18 of them (there are certainly more).
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