Babs Fafunwa

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Aliu Babatunde Fafunwa (born September 23, 1923) is a Nigerian educationist, scholar and former minister for Education. As minister, he was in charge of the biggest school system in Africa.[1] He is known for his early writings on the need to re-appraise the inherited colonial epistemological system in Nigeria and to introduce relevant cultural goals, subjects and local languages into the system in order to accommodate the developmental and cultural pattern of the country.[2] He is also a notable authority on the history of educational planning in Nigeria.


In 1955, he earned a Ph.D. in Education, becoming the first Nigerian recipient of a doctoral degree in Education.[3] He started his University teaching career in 1961 at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. During the Nigerian civil war, he left the east and moved to Ife, and taught at the Obafemi Awolowo University.[4]

While at Nsukka, in collaboration with his colleagues at the education department, the department drafted a proposal to admit grade 11 teachers into a new two year degree program at the Faculty of Education. The proposal was subsequently adopted and in a few years led to the emergence of the Nigerian Certificate of Education[5] and further broadened the acceptance of Colleges of Education in the university system; today a lot of the colleges are affiliated with universities. He also continued an innovative tradition, already in existence at Nsukka, when he began to implement a curriculum for granting a bachelors degree in education, the first faculty in the country to do so. A process which will further expand the career potential of many teachers.[6]

In 1977, a long time proposal of his to incorporate native languages into pedagogy was finally accepted. Today, most Nigerians learn at least one Nigerian language. Fafunwa and a few other African educationists, had argued that embracing whole heartedly without evaluation foreign systems of education and epistemology, can create the potential for epistemological dis-orientation. Introducing, cultural objectives and environmental familiarity will provide a continuity and balance into the educational advancement of a child and his place in his community.

Selected works

  • A History of Nigerian Higher Education, Macmillan.
  • History of Education in Nigeria, 1970. ISBN 0043700470
  • 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 9781530960
  • Memoirs of a Nigerian Minister of Education, Macmillan (Nigeria), 1998. ISBN 9780182594
  • Sense and non-sense in Nigerian Education, 1998


  • 1. ^ KENNETH B. NOBLE, "Nigerian's Plan: Adopt the (250) Mother Tongues." The New York Times, May 23, 1991.
  • 2. ^ Birgit Brock-Utne; Whose Education for All?The Recolonization of the African Mind. Falmer Press, 2000
  • 3. ^ "Thoughts On Babs Fafunwa," (1)
  • 4. ^ Dr. Obasi, "Thoughts On Babs Fafunwa," (2). Daily Champion, January 24, 2007
  • 5. ^ "Thoughts On Babs Fafunwa," 2
  • 6. ^ "Thoughts On Babs Fafunwa," (2)