a B.Sc (Magna Cum Laude) in Social Science and English
M.A (Cum Laude) in Administration and Higher Education
He was for three years Nigeria’s minister for education under Ibrahim Babangida
Asiwajuof Ikoyi-Ile, 1992;Ardoof Zaria, 1992; OK: Ibweah of Ogbaland;
NNOM, CON, HLR
1. Recipient, Franklin Book Award, New York, 1973;
2. ; recipient, Distinguished ServiceMedalAward, Teach ers College,Columbia University, 1973;
3. UNESCO Award as one ofthe ten best edu cationists in the world, 1994;
A History of Nigerian Higher Education, Macmillan.
History of Education in Nigeria, 1970. ISBN 0-04-370047-0
New Perspectives in African Education, 1967
Education in Mother Tongue: The Ife Primary Education Research Project, 1970-1978 (Editor)
Up and On: A Nigerian Teacher’s Odyssey, 1991. ISBN 978-153-096-0
Memoirs of a Nigerian Minister of Education, Macmillan (Nigeria), 1998. ISBN 978-018-259-4
Sense and non-sense in Nigerian Education, 1998
1. Distinguished Visiting Professor, Michigan State Univer sity, USA, 1972-73;
2. Recipient, Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, New York University, 1982;
Table tennis,swimming,reading,writing and reflecting
9A, Bendel Close, Victoria Island, Lagos State.
Fafunwa developed a straightforward and forthright manner early in life. His activities as a teenager, no doubt, prepared him for a promising adult life. When he completed his secondary school education in 1943, it was evident that a courageous and brilliant leader of thought was in the making. He had his first working experience immediately after his secondary school education.
Fafunwa was appointed as a railway clerk by the Nigerian railways in 1944. He was conscientious and hardworking but would not accept foolish behaviour from anyone, even from his European bosses. Thus, when he finally resigned his appointment at the Nigerian railways in 1947, he concluded his letter of resignation as follows:
I leave the service without regret but with considerable relief because I am gaining my personal independence right now. I will be back to join others in fighting for Nigeria’s self-determination.3
On leaving the Nigerian railways, Fafunwa proceeded to the United States. This phase of Fafunwa’s life was full of struggle, frustration, successes and challenges. He arrived in the winter of 1947 and was welcomed by a terrible wind. He recalled that the shock gave him tremors all over and tears ran involuntarily down his cheeks.
Fafunwa enrolled at Bethune College, Daytona, Florida, for his first-degree programme in1948. While at this college, he had to take a number of odd jobs in order to raise enough money topay his tuition and other basic necessities. In 1951, despite the burden of limited financial mean, he completed his first degree. He later attended New York University for his graduate studies where he received financial support from a woman whom he had met previously at Bethune CookmanCollege. He also worked in a Jewish restaurant while studying for his master’s degree. After completing his master’s degree programme in 1952, he enrolled for his doctoral studies at the same university. As well, he was given a part-time job as an assistant lecturer and named ‘Chancellor’s Scholar’. While he was working on his doctoral degree, he married a white American, Doris ElaineJones, in 1953. He completed his Ph.D. programme in 1955 and returned to Nigeria that same year.
On returning to Nigeria in 1955, Fafunwa took up a teaching appointment at the Ahmadiyya College, Agege, as a senior tutor and acting vice-principal. He spearheaded the formulation of a code of conduct for teachers, along with school rules and regulations for the pupils. He never yielded whenever the issue of discipline came up.
While teaching at the Ahmadiyya College, he came to the conclusion that the Nigerian educational system was too examination oriented. This realization was to have a lasting impression on his approach to education policy formulations in later years. Thus, while developing the Nigerian National Policy on Education, of which he was one of the leading architects, an attempt was made to de-emphasize the importance placed on examinations. Nigeria now has a true educational systemand not an examination system, as was the situation when he was at Ahmadiyya College.
After working for a year in Ahmadiyya College, Fafunwa resigned his appointment and joined ESSO West Africa Limited, an oil company, as employee—public relations manager. He served in this position for five years. While at ESSO, he assisted the company in increasing the number of indigenous staff members by recruiting Nigerians, both at junior and managerial levels. At ESSO, Fafunwa was convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that paper qualifications have their limits. There, he found out that most of the expatriate members of staff had little or no paper qualifications as such. This not withstanding, he was impressed by their background and work experience, as those among them with the lowest qualifications often had fifteen years experience and training on the job. They could truly be regarded as experts in their various fields. All this led Fafunwa to recognize that paper qualifications need not be worshipped. ‘I learnt early in my career that paper qualifications have limits and that ability to perform effectively and efficiently comes with experience,’ he remarked. This understanding also influenced his educational and administrative policies in later years. It was not strange, then, that he experimented with the employment of unsuccessful school-leavers while still at ESSO. The experiment worked. He thus demonstrated that the final school certificate examination result was not an infallible test of a person’s intellectualability.
All along, while Fafunwa was working either at the Ahmadiyya College or at ESSO, he felt that he did not belong in either place. It was at this point that he started to publish articles on education in newspapers. As a result, he started to draw attention to himself through these publications. It seemed strange that the first Nigerian with a doctorate degree in education should be teaching in a secondary school or working as a public relations manager for an oil company. He was all the while looking for an opportunity to work in a truly academic environment.
The opportunity to join the teaching service of a university came with the establishment of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1960. Thus, when he was appointed a senior lecturer at the newly founded university in 1961, he decided to accept the appointment. This appointment enabled him to reach the top of the educational policy-making level in Nigeria.
An entirely new university was perhaps the best setting for someone like Fafunwa to start a university teaching career. He needed an academic environment full of challenges and hopes, coupled with the freedom to explore new ideas. The University of Nigeria, Nsukka, provided that ideal environment. In its pioneering years, the department of education at the university had a strongteam of educators led by John Hanson, an expatriate. When Hanson left the university in March1962, Fafunwa was appointed the substantive Head of Department and acting Dean of the Faculty of Education. Three years later, in 1965, he was promoted to professor and appointed substantive Dean of Education. Thus, Fafunwa became the first Nigerian ever to be appointed Professor of Education. Next, he transferred to the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, where he built a new Faculty of Education from scratch.
He became the first Dean of the Faculty of Education and Director of the Institute of Education, between 1967 and 1976. He left the University of Ife for Lagos in 1976 to become the first Chairman of the Teaching Service Commission for Lagos State. In 1981 he was appointed the first Chairman of the Governing Council of Lagos State College of Education. Both positions he accepted with humility and performed the duties of his office with characteristic dedication to his beliefs. By this time he had started to enjoy a national and international reputation.
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