Alvan Ikoku Contributions To West African Education

Who was Alvan ikoku contributions to West African Education

He was a visionary. He was a force for change. He was an educator. He was a pillar for uniform education during the revolution that occurred in the 1950s in Africa. You’ve probably been taught about him and/or seen his face on the 10 naira note. But who exactly is he?

Contribution To Humanity By Alvan Ikoku

Alvan Ikoku was a Nigerian politician, statesman, educator and activist. He was a major force of change in the educational discrepancies in colonial Nigeria. He fought for educational revolution in Nigeria, him being an output of enlightenment from his extensive academic career. Being an outstanding educationist, he went on to open his own institution of learning to further his goal of national learning for the unprivileged people and persisted in his efforts for basic educational policies in the country, despite the colonial masters’ redundant rejection.

He is truly a great icon of Nigerian educational development since during his prominent days, changing lives all over Nigeria and paving the way for other selflessly minded nationalists and revolutionaries to carry the torch through to the generations to come. Late. Sir. Alvan Ikoku is what we all call a man to look up to since he lived a committed life to the people during his days and so, we are motivated and obligated to play our significant role in this society to further expand on the work he and other changemakers have done in the past till now, in whatever way we can.

Today, we shall take a short preview of his life, I suppose that’s what you came here for. Let me not waste any more of your time and get on with it.

The Short-Detailed Biography Of Alvan Ikoku

Early life and academics

Alvan Azinna Ikoku was born on August 1st, 1900 in Arochukwu, present day Abia State, Nigeria, where he attended the Arochukwu Government Primary School from 1911-1914 and the Hope Waddell College, Calabar from 1915-1920 where he was a student under James Emmanuel Aggey and was classmates with Akanu Ibiam, another notable revolutionary. He got his first teaching appointment with the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria and Scotland at Itigidi, Calabar in 1920. He became a senior tutor two years later at St. Paul’s Teachers’ Training College, Akwa. Anambra State. While still teaching there, he got his Philosophy degree from University of London through the external program.

Educational and teaching career

He had established the Aggrey Memorial Secondary School in Arochukwu in 1932, a co-educational secondary school which he named after his mentor, Sir James Aggrey who was an eminent Ghanaian educator. The school was prominent in Nigeria for its technological, self-empowerment and sustainability education being taught, majorly due to the fact classes was taught in indigenous languages. Wasn’t that just fascinating? Alvan also taught some of the subjects offered in the school despite he was also the proprietor of the institution. The man was a literal powerhouse.


Political activities

After several constitutional changes that allowed more Nigerians into the legislative chambers, he was nominated to the Eastern Nigerian House of Assembly in 1947 and was assigned to the ministry of education, respectively. He became part of the legislative council in Lagos in that same year, as one of the three representatives of the Eastern Region.

Ikoku became the major push factor for the 44 Nigerian Union of Teachers’ (NUT) proposals warranting the acceptance by the Legislative Council, amending various educational statutes. He later went on to become president of the NUT. He, of course, encounter much of resistance and rejection through the 1950s, when the colonial government repeatedly refused to instate his union’s recommendations to introduce nationally-even education in the country.

However, after the national independence, his union’s propositions were vindicated, later being the basis of educational policy in the independent nation. He also called for an Education Bill of Rights in 1962 which advocated for free primary education for 6 years across the country and for indigenous languages to be taught in schools which was later accepted by the Federal Military Government from 1976.

He is undiminished in his impacts on the educational transformation and development the nation has been fortunate to experience since his active activism days. After retiring from active politics, Ikoku served on various educational bodies across the country, including the West African Educational Council (WAEC) and the Council of the University of Ibadan as well as Chairman, Board of Governors of the Aviation Training Centre to name a few.


He was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE). For his contributions to education in Nigeria including an honorary Doctorate in Law (1965) at a special convocation of the UI (University of Ibadan),  the College of Education in Owerri, Imo state named after him, a major road named after him, the Alvan Ikoku Way in Abuja amongst other streets and roads on the nation, an establishment of the Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education and his commemoration on a bill of 10 naira since 1979.

He died on November 18, 1971 at the age 71. Bonus: He left his legacy to his 5 children: S.G. Ikoku, Chimere, Ekanem, Gloria, Enyinna and Fide


Even though there were regressors, rejectors and resistors of change, in this case the colonizers, Alvan still remained true to his mission along with the members of the NUT. You who are fighting for a course, I hope you can see it is too early to give up.

Ikoku may not have known he would be such a fighter and revolutionary later in his adulthood when he was little, but destiny and right choices always supersede the harsh realities of life and always prevails as ordained. If you feel you’re being called to a certain cause or purpose, and with time, feel that you’re truly meant to put your quota to further that cause, I’m cheering behind you

. If you find something that gives your life meaning, and also adds value to people’s life, you should do everything in your power to further that and instill the spirit of selflessness in younger generations. Difficulties will occur, but giving up is never the way out.


Alvan Azinna Ikoku was a Nigerian people-politician, education enthusiast and educational activist.  His 71 years on this earth, for the most part, was dedicated to making the generations to come, which is us now, to have affordable education and a chance to be enlightened on our basic rights so we can navigate our lives on the basis of giving back to the people and the environment.

Much of Alvan’s personal life isn’t known or recorded, but his public image was protected and respected by the people through his educational and political career. He is truly an inspiration to all of us, in whatever light we see him in, his life and patriotism to the African race and Nigerian community in particular shows his priorities were Afrocentric which should be all our front burner.

Do you wish to make a change in the sector of the country which you think affects you personal or on a national level? Do you want to play your role in your small community, in eradicating a vice which is detrimental to the development and welfare of the people? Do you want to be remembered as a revolutionary, a man/woman who said NO to injustice and stood up for integrity and equality in all areas of the African society?

I hope this story motivated you to keep on fighting and pushing. Till next time then!

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