A SHORT HISTORY OF IBADAN GRAMMAR SCHOOL BY PROF. AKIN MABOGUNJE AND OTHER SOURCES
In the Beginning 1
Ibadan Grammar School started its journey as a leading Christian secondary school providing light in the darkness of heathenism and underdevelopment on 31st March, 1913 with twelve foundation students in a mud-built storey building owned by Mr. Samson Oke and located at what was then Apampa Road at Alekuso, near Bere Square, Ibadan. Right from the beginning, provision was made for the growth of the school with the donation of a 5-acre piece of land by Balogun Shittu, the Are of Ibadan, near his personal residence, at Oke Are.
Established as a Christian School in the best tradition of the Anglican Church, the Founder and first Principal of the school was Bishop (then Revd.) A. B Akinyele, a visionary clergyman who championed the cause of education, making great personal sacrifices, when western education was considered strange and unprofitable by the people. In the words of the Late Bishop S. O. Odutola, one-time Diocesan Bishop of Ibadan, Bishop A. B. Akinyele “in spite of all persecutions, both within and without, amidst teeming population of illiterate peasants, founded the School single-handedly and made supreme sacrifices before achieving his main objective.” Bishop Akinyele’s exemplary work is acknowledged throughout Nigeria and, indeed, the African continent. Despite the fact that Revd. Akinyele was the only graduate on staff, and had but one or two assistants, the population of students grew from a modest 12 in March, 1913 to 68 within a period of three years. With the increase in student population, the storey building at Alekuso became inadequate and the school moved into new buildings (provided through generous donations by individuals) at Oke Are in 1917 with major restructuring into Infant, Primary and Secondary sections. Student population had risen to 79, including eight students in the boarding house, and the number of teachers to five.
It is noteworthy that up to this point in the history of the school, the school relied exclusively on good-spirited individuals for its development (the highest donation at the foundation stone laying ceremony at Oke Are was by Baale Irefin who donated £100), with the Principal and staff making great sacrifices and earning paltry salaries ranging from £80 per annum for the Principal to £48 for Senior Tutor, £21 for Junior Tutor and £12 each for the two pupil teachers. It was not until 1919 that the school received its first financial assistance from government with a grant of £46. The school continued to make very good progress under Revd. Akinyele with the strengthening of the secondary section. The school first presented candidates for the preliminary Cambridge School Certificate by 1925 and the Junior Cambridge in 1928. By the time Revd. Akinyele left office as Principal in 1933, following his elevation to the post of Assistant Bishop of Lagos Diocese, the number of students had increased to 187, comprising 82 students in the primary section and 105 in the secondary section.
Revd. E. L. Latunde succeeded Bishop Akinyele as Principal and during his tenure (1933-1940) the four houses of the school, Irefin, Olubadan, Olubi and Akinyele, were established and the school became a member of the AIONIAN Group of Schools. It was during the time of Revd. E. A. Odusanwo, who succeeded Revd. Latunde as Principal, that the school completely excised the elementary section of the school and, by 1942, it had become solely a secondary grammar school. By 1948, student population had increased astronomically to about 350, and the Oke Are site had been stretched to the limit, necessitating another movement of the school.
It was under the legendary Archdeacon (then Revd.) E. O. Alayande, who succeeded Revd. Odusanwo in 1948, that the school moved into new buildings on a 58-acre piece of land at its present site at Molete on 5th March, 1951. The school witnessed unprecedented development during the tenure (1948-1968) of Archdeacon Alayande as Principal becoming one of the best secondary schools in Nigeria with arguably the best Higher School Certificate (HSC) programme in the country that attracted students from far and wide. There were remarkable developments not only in physical infrastructure with the construction of new science laboratories, a library, classrooms, an administration block, dormitories, staff houses, sports field and a school chapel, but also in academics with the introduction of new academic programmes including the HSC in 1956. The school provided quality education in the arts and the sciences with standard facilities including well-equipped laboratories and an environment conducive to teaching and learning. The school was international in outlook attracting students and staff from all over the world. About 80 % of the student population of about 550 lived in the boarding house with students of diverse social background, from all parts of Nigeria and from abroad, providing a rich cultural diversity that made the Ibadan Grammar School experience unique. Quality of staff was extremely high (several of the teachers were well-trained expatriates from the UK, USA, Canada, the Netherlands, India, South Africa, Sierra Leone and the West Indies) and, with a few exceptions, all the teachers (about 30) were graduates. The school was renowned not only for its academic excellence, but for its extra-curricular activities, particularly sports, including athletics, football, lawn tennis and table tennis. Students of Ibadan Grammar School represented the country in international competitions such as the first All African Games in Brazzaville, Congo in 1965 where the late Dr. Sesan Onafowokan represented Nigeria in the high jump.
Archdeacon Alayande was succeeded in 1968 by Chief Ayo Labiyi, the first old student of Ibadan Grammar School to become the Principal of the school. Even though girls were admitted into the HSC and the remedial science programme for students from other schools with a weak science background in the Alayande days, it was not until 1969 that the school became a full-fledged mixed secondary school for boys and girls. In 1970, under the leadership of Chief Ayo Labiyi, a 10-year development plan was proposed and the Ibadan Grammar School Old Students’ Association with the Late Chief ‘Bola Ige as President, launched the £100,000 Bishop Akinyele Memorial Fund for the development of the school including the construction of a new Assembly Hall, girls’ hostel and boys’ hostel. In the words of Chief ‘Bola Ige, the old students of Ibadan Grammar School have a goodly heritage and must continue to build on the foundation laid by Bishop A. B. Akinyele: “a Christian school with an open door policy; an Ibadan school with a cosmopolitan population; a grammar school that is strong not only in the Arts and Sciences, but also in the athletic world; a town school that looks after the needs of pupils from rural areas.” Regrettably, despite all the good intentions, the lofty objectives of the 1970 school development project were not achieved and the school witnessed progressive decline since then in infrastructure, teaching and learning environment, quality of staff and students, academic performance, sports and other extra-curricular activities. The takeover of schools by government and the resultant problems of poor funding, uncontrolled increase in student enrolment leading to a student population explosion, without investment in additional facilities, and retrogressive government policies inimical to the delivery of quality education further compounded the woes of the school.
1. Based in part on information from “A short History of Ibadan Grammar School” by Prof. Akin Mabogunje and other sources