Late Prof.. Aliu  Babatunde Fafunwa

(SEPT 23,  1923– OCT 11, 2010 )

Aliu Babatunde Fafunwa, fondly called Babs was born on 23rd September 1923 in Isale-Eko Lagos, Nigeria , is known both at home and abroad more than any other Nigerian educationist.

He proceeded to the United States  in 1947 and enrolled at Bethune College, Daytona, Florida, for his first-degree programme in 1948.

 In 1951, he completed his first degree and later attended the New York University for his graduate studies where he received

his master’s degree programme in 1952.

 He enrolled for his doctoral studies at the same university where he was given a part-time job as an assistant lecturer and named ‘Chancellor’s Scholar’ and completed his Ph.D. programme in 1955 and returned to Nigeria that same year.

On returning to Nigeria he took up a teaching appointment at the Ahmadiyya College, Agege.

He started to draw attention to himself through publications and sounded strange that the first Nigerian with a doctorate degree in education should be teaching in a secondary school or an oil company.

Opportunity to join the teaching service of a university came with the establishment of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1960.

Fafunwa became the first Nigerian ever to be appointed Professor of Education in 1965.

In 1976 he became the first Chairman of the Teaching Service Commission for Lagos State and in 1981 the first Chairman of the Governing Council of Lagos State College of Education.

He fought a spirited battle to promote the mother tongue in Nigerian education.

During  the 400th anniversary of the birth of Jan Amos Comenius, an international award for achievements in the field of educational research and innovation  was instituted jointly by the Czech Ministry of Education and the Director-General of UNESCO and Fafunwa was one of the 10 laureates.

His bold advocacy for reforms led to the creation of the Nigerian Educational Research Council and the adoption of the‘6-3-3-4 National Policy of Education’ in Nigeria.

 He led the academic members of the Faculty of Education at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, to train the first set of degree holders in education and initiated the long vacation education programmes for primary school teachers.

Fafunwa ensured that the status of the Grade II Teachers Certificate was raised by allowing the holders to be admitted to the degree programme at Nsukka and pioneered the introduction and development of the NCE teacher preparation programme.

In March 1992 he presented the establishment of the Teachers’ Registration Council.

Earlier, he had originated the idea of setting up of the ‘think tank’ in Nigeria in 1975-a National Policy Development Centre (NPDC) which metamorphosed into the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in 1979 and was located in Kuru near Jos.

He championed the establishment of National Primary Education Commission (NPEC) in 1988 and the establishment of two important government parastatals—the National Commission for Colleges of  Education (NCCE) and the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.

On 29 December 1989 Fafunwa was appointed Minister of Education and he  established six units under his ministry between 1991 and 1992.

(i)The Nigerian French Language Village was established in 1991 in Badagry, Lagos State.

(ii)The National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), located at Ondo, was established by Fafunwa on 17 December 1992.

(iii)The National Institute for Languages was established in Aba in 1992. 

(iv)The National Arabic Language Village was established in 1992 and located in Gamboru in Borno State

(v)The National Board for Educational Measurement (NBEM) was also established in 1992 and is currently located in Minna in Niger State and

(vi)The National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) was established in 1992 and located in Benin, Edo State.

His wide-ranging publications are as inspiring as they are challenging.

He received many national and international honours and awards.

He was:

Comparative Africa Education Study Tour of East and Central Africa (1966), International Member;

Kenya Commission on Teacher Education (1966-1968);

International Member, Sierra Leone Commission on Higher Education (1969-1970);

Co-Chairman, African Primary Science Workshop of the Educational Development Centre, Newton, Massachusetts (1963-1966);

Member of the UNESCO Commission on the Review of University Education in Liberia (1975);

Consultant, Workshop on Teacher Training in the Use of African Languages,Monrovia, Liberia (1983);

Togo (1984) and Kenya (1987);

Founders’ Day Special Honours Citation for Outstanding Scholarship, New York University (1956);

Franklin Book Award for Outstanding Contribution to Educational Development, New York City (1976);

Medal for Distinguished Service in Education, Teachers’College, Columbia University, New York City (1973);

Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, New York University School of Education (1982);

Distinguished Fellow, International Council on Education for Teaching,Washington D.C. (1983);

Hon. LL.D., University of Nigeria, Nsukka (1986), Hon D. Litt., Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (1987);

Nigerian National Merit Award Winner (1989);

Honourable Federal Minister of Education (1989-1993);

Fellow, Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (1990) and Fellow, Nigerian Academy of Education (1990)


Source: NTI News Bulletin Bi-Monthly Edition, August September 2019 Vol. 1 No. 020, Page 9

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