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Education Personality of the Week: Alvan Azinwa Ikoku

Written by Brownson Etimbuk

Alvan Ikoku (the man whose face is on the Ten Naira note) easily ranks among the most outstanding educationists Nigeria has ever produced. He was born on August 1, 1900 in the small town of Amanaguwu in Arochukwu Abia State.

Ikoku was educated at Government School and Hope Waddell College all in Calabar.

In 1920, he got his first teaching appointment with the Presbyterian Church of Scotland at Itigidi and two years later became a senior tutor at St. Pauls Teachers Training College, Awka, Anambra State. It was while at Awka that Ikoku earned the University of London degree in philosophy in 1928 through private correspondence.

Ikoku established a co-educational Secondary School in Africa, the Aggrey Memorial College, Arochukwu in 1931. He named the institution after James E.K. Aggrey, the eminent Ghanaian educationist.

At Aggrey, he introduced Carpentry as a subject and called it the ‘education of the hand’. The students were able to make their own chairs, tables and bookshelves.

Following the constitutional changes in 1946 which allowed for more Nigerians in the legislative chambers, Ikoku was nominated to Eastern Nigeria House of Assembly. He was assigned to the ministry of education. In 1947 he went to the Legislative council in Lagos as one of the three representatives of the Eastern Region.

In government, Ikoku exerted his influence to foster the interest of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and promote education. He was instrumental to the legislative councils acceptance of 44 of NUTs proposals for amendments to various educational ordinances.

Ikoku worked for the introduction of uniform education in Nigeria through the NUT. The union made recommendations for the uniformity of education in Nigeria but the colonial government rejected them. Ikoku and his union were vindicated after independence when the recommendations became the foundation of official policy on education.

Ikoku served on various educational bodies in the country. He was a member of WAEC and the council of the University of Ibadan as well as chairman, board of governors of the Aviation Training Centre.

Honours for his contribution to education in Nigeria include an honorary doctorate in law (1965), at a special convocation of the University of Ibadan, the establishment of the Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education and his commemoration on the Ten Naira Note.

He died on November, 18 1971.

Edugist celebrates this foremost educationist and he is our Education Personality of the Week!

About the author

Brownson Etimbuk

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