Katsina Teachers college - The oldest institution of higher learning in northern Nigeria

Community Development Dec 3, 2022

The Katsina Teacher’s College was built in 1921 and it is reputed to be the oldest institution of higher learning in northern Nigeria. It was built with red-baked mud and fired clay. It remains a tourist attraction today and a place that visitors want to see when they come to Katsina town. It was declared a Historic Monument on April 23, 1959. Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello graduated from this Old Training College.

The old school building is another grand traditional architectural master class and a conspicuous symbol of culture and history; more so as it is now turned into Katsina Museum. Situated around the Kofar Sauri area of the city, the red-baked clay structure still tickles the fantasy of tourists. Before the coming of western education, Islam was the comprehensive learning system, which served the needs of the people at the time. For this reason, it was a big challenge for the colonial rulers to introduce western education, they, however, treated the issue with caution, and subsequently, a Teachers Training College otherwise known as Katsina College was established in 1922.

The amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 necessitated the need for western education. After two decades of British occupation, the Northern Provinces could not produce natives who were sufficiently educated to fill the clerical posts in the offices of government departments. The college was therefore founded by Sir Hugh Clifford, governor of the Northern Region to train teachers that will man the provincial schools.

Sir Clifford was quoted to have said at the opening ceremony that the aim of establishing the school was to train teachers who, “as true men could replicate themselves, teachers who could be future leaders, whose characters would have been sufficiently molded to shape society.”The Katsina College is said to have started with an initial intake of 50 students drawn from all the provinces of the northern region.

At the time of gathering this report, the Acting Curator, Mrs. Bintu M.Sadiq, said Sir S.M. Banaman was the first principal of the college and all teachers were Europeans, adding that it was later that indigenous Hausas were employed to teach Hausa and Islamic religion. She said prominent personalities like Sir Ahmadu Bello, former premier of Northern Nigeria, Tafawa Balewa, first Prime Minister of Nigeria in the first republic, Sir Kashim Ibrahim, and others had their post-primary education at the college.

Perhaps for administrative convenience, the college was moved to Kaduna, the regional capital and renamed Kaduna College. Mr. Most, who was the principal at the time could not give the reason for the relocation of the school. He was quoted as saying “we were never told why we had to move to Kaduna. Perhaps, it was for the greater glory of the capital.”

In the same year the college was moved to Zaria and again renamed Government Secondary School, Zaria. In January 1949, the name was changed to Government College, Zaria and later Barewa College, Zaria.

The old Katsina College was recognized as a historical landmark by the Federal Government and declared a national monument in 1959.