As St. Anne’s School is set to mark its 150 Annevary beginning from 18 October, the school can be said to be the forerunner of all-girls’ school in Nigeria.
Our findings show that St. Anne School is the first school in Nigeria to offer formal education to the girl child.
Its history is traced back to the establishment of the CMS Girls Institution in Lagos in 1869 and Kudeti Girls School, Ibadan in 1899. It is the merger of these two schools in 1950 that produced St Anne’s School, Molete, Ibadan.
How St. Anne’s School Began 1899
In Lagos, in the mid-1800’s there were a lot of Sierra Leonean & Brazilian immigrants who had come back home after a period of captivity overseas.
They were referred to as ‘Returnees’ and included Rev T.A B. Macaulay. They had little faith in the primary & Technical Schools available at the time.
And believed instead in a more literary and academic education. Because of their insistence of a Secondary school, the CMS Grammar School was started by Rev T.A.B. Macaulay in 1859.
This school enjoyed popular support and taught more academic subjects like Grammar, Arithmetic, Geography and the Sciences.
This immigrant group had also come to appreciate the virtues of educating women to the same level as men.
As the Eagle & Critic, one of the local newspapers of that period put it, “if the woman is to be the helpmate to the man, it is quite clear.
That the nearer she is brought to the condition of the man the more perfect and congenially would she fulfil her task.
Therefore, a high-class education for women in Africa is an absolute necessity”
The clamours by this group of returnees and the unfortunate expulsion in 1867 of missionaries from Abeokuta all combined to convince the Anglican Mission of the necessity of starting a school in Lagos.
The Beginning and Birth of CMS Female Institution in 1869
This was the beginning and birth of the CMS Female Institution in 1869. Its first principal was Mrs Roper and the schools’ first premises was on what is now known as Broad Street.
Its permanent building is the site of what is now the present house for the provost of the Christ Church Cathedral, Marina.
The school was known as The CMS Female Institution. This was later changed to CMS Girls Seminary in 1891 & to CMS Girls School in 1926.
The school started with sixteen pupils and rose in number as it became more popular over the years.
By the beginning of the 20th Century, it became apparent that it was no longer enough to turn out young anglicized ladies.
And the subjects and teaching curriculum were changed to include even more academic and more vocational subjects.
St Anne Introduces School Uniforms in 1928
Alongside this, in 1928, school uniforms were formally introduced. The colour of the uniform was purple.
The school dress was a simple garment trimmed with mauve. Straw hats bearing a badge with the school Motto – Courage, Modesty and Sincerity. These were also introduced in 1919 as part of the uniform.
Boarders wore white dresses to church on Sundays. By 1931 this change in curriculum had started to produce the desired results.
Two St Anne Girls pass Cambridge for the first time
For the first time in the history of women’s education in Nigeria, two girls from CMS Girls school, Alaba Cole & Omotayo Oyediran sat the Cambridge School Certificate Examination and were successful.
The school continued to grow in size and strength. And the need for more space for boarders and funding became more apparent.
The Broad Street site of the CMS Girls’ School in Lagos had become inadequate. This was when the decision was taken by the mission to merge the two schools.
So, the secondary school segment of the CMS Girls School with Kudeti Girls School were merged. Reason for the merger was for the adequate space for a large population of students.
In 1950, students from Lagos travelled to Ibadan to join Kudeti Girls on the Molete site. The merger produced the school named St. Anne’s with the CMS-inspired motto: Courage, Modesty and Sincerity.